Almost all high school and college teams have captains. Typically the captains are upper classmen that are well respected among their peers.
But…are your captains comfortable being role models and effectively leading? Do they model the way for their teammates and “walk the talk”?
If you want to help your team captains become better leaders and truly model the way…this post is for you!
You will learn the key behaviors that drive commitment and behaviors that drive change.
You may be a coach that is trying to create a new culture for your program. Or implementing a new style of play for this season. Either way…you and your players will have to deal with constant change. But how do we set ourselves up for successful change? There are many different strategies, but one specific strategy is most important…your team needs role models!
Great captains can’t pick and choose when to act like a role model. It must be all the time. Consistency is key. Leading the way should be a daily responsibility for the team captains.
But if being a role model is so important for the captains and the team, why don’t many do it? A study by Keller and Aiken (2009) revealed that many leaders (i.e. captains) do not see themselves as part of the problem. Therefore, they do not think they need to make a change. Especially when the captains are the best players on the team…of course it’s not their fault! Regardless, it’s their responsibility to lead the change.
Now the first part to leading change is building commitment…from everyone on the team. Great leaders don’t do just one thing well, they do many things well. Zenger and Folkman gathered data from 100,000 direct reports and uncovered the 9 most important behaviors that drive commitment. They are…
Share this list to your team captains and have them rate their own ability for each behavior above (use a simple rating system like; needs improvement/meets expectations/exceeds expectations). Then have the captains commit to deliberately practicing ONE behavior for the following week. After a week, have the captains share (1) what went well, (2) what obstacles they encountered, and (3) the impact their behavior had on the team.
The next key to successful change is to drive the change. In another study by Zenger and Folkman (2015) they identified 7 behaviors that drove successful change. They are…
Just like the previous exercise, have your captains rate their own ability to execute the behaviors above. If they could personally develop one of these behaviors, which would have the greatest impact on the team? Have them pick ONE behavior for the following week that they would like to practice to help drive successful change. Also, have them share specific examples about how they will demonstrate the behavior.
Helpful tip: Often times, team captains feel like they need to be “nice” or giving advice to their teammates. But they may be surprised by the results from the same study by Zenger and Folkman that found 2 behaviors had little to no impact on leading change: (1) being nice, and (2) giving advice or suggestions that may feel like nagging. So how can your captains replace ineffective behaviors like being nice or giving advice? Lead a brief discussion and help guide them to discover new solutions, and help them enhance their leadership abilities!
Share this post with your team captains and get them involved in leading the way for your team.
And always remember…keep hustling and keep shooting!
[This post was originally posted on Medium]