Here is a little assessment for the athletes out there, but it’s also for anyone who works with a group of people. If you feel you have potential to be a good team leader you should be able to identify with each of the following 10 paragraphs. Give yourself a point for each one that describes you.
Would your team/work mates describe you as “Reliable”?
Often the work of others is dependent on the work you do. If your work is late, sloppy, or incomplete it may set back the entire team. In the gym, team mates are often relied upon to set up stations, lead a drill, or help spot an area. Maintaining a healthy team culture means that everyone can count on their team mates. If your team would call you reliable, give yourself a point.
Would your team/work mates say that you “keep it too safe”?
It has been a great mistake of adults to try to amend the life experience of children to eliminate failure or feeling low over losing. In fact, people hiring in the job market today frequently ask about loses and lessons learned from loss. If that’s the case, why would we think it beneficial to reduce exposure to set-backs and losses? When a person plays it too safe they often do not move ahead, they encourage stagnation by complacency and this sets a tone for the team to stay in place and halt forward progress. This is not a good example to set, nor is it motivating to another team member. Give yourself a point if your team would say that you like to push the envelope and keep your eye on moving ahead.
Would your team/work mates describe you as “territorial”?
Not only is good and open communication essential, see the points below, but being open to sharing space and time is as vital as sharing information. I have seen team members who hoard time, take mats from other people’s drill sets, or even conspire to block a team mate from getting equal access to coaching or equipment. This type of negative territorial-ism will destroy a team. It is essential that all team mates feel supported by each other and understand that by sharing the resources there will always be more for everyone. Give yourself a point if you are a good sharer.
Do you “Listen” and “Speak up” as a team mate? Do you give everyone a voice?
Often when a coach explains what is to be done there might be questions that the athlete has. They may not understand the instruction, or maybe they have input on the instruction that might make it better. Usually questions are not owned by only one person, if one person asks it, usually a few others were thinking it. I love to get input from my gymnasts (Often I have to say “no” to them, but I still love the input).
The paragraph above praises two-way communication, but when you are in a group setting, do you allow your team mates a chance to say their opinion too. Our teams are often full of mixed ages of kids. Some kids are quiet. Some are not. A good team leader will remember that even the youngest or quietest should have the chance to say what they think. Get one point if you encourage others, even the little quiet ones, a chance to speak up.
Do you have an idea of where you are leading people?
I have seen team leaders who act negatively. They can be distracting, or even demeaning to other gymnasts. First I explain that they are a team leader, often by default (by being a higher level or an older gymnast), then I ask them if they are aware of where they are choosing to lead the team. A true leader knows how to build people up, offer guidance, and has a positive direction. If your team mates would say you have set a good direction for the team, give yourself a point.
Will your team/work mates say you dwell on the dark side?
I often wonder what it would be like to work on the Star Wars Death Star. All the leaders on the dark side of the force must make for a really unhappy team atmosphere. Everyone can have a bad day and feel down, but when people try to drag their mates down just to feel better, the team morale will plummet. If you are hard to work with because you always see the glass as half empty, you must realize that you are damaging the training environment for everyone else. It’s not likely you will be a ray of sunshine every day, but no one feels good around someone who has a raincloud overhead 27/7/365. Give yourself a point if you try to keep the team atmosphere light and positive, even on down days.
Will your team/work mates say that you help strengthen the team dynamic?
As I mentioned above, communication, sharing, allowing people to be themselves are all essential to maintaining a good team dynamic. Team dynamic denotes the team’s ability to work together to achieve productive results. If you embrace the individuals in a group setting, give yourself a point.
Do you know your limits? Do you know the team’s limit?
Being a part of a team means that you must understand what the team can realistically do. As a coach I often give assignments that are more than can be accomplished in the allotted time. My leader gymnasts usually ask if I intend them to get it ALL done, or if they must do it in order (knowing that I put the priority items first on the to-do list). What that tells me is that they know what they can get done and what is realistic. I think this is essential to teaching them that they can A) ask questions, and B) say “No” if they feel that it cannot be done. Another communication point for you if you are not afraid to say that you and the team have limits.
Can you be described as a problem-solver?
A good team leader does not accept that results are final and that better is not possible. A leader looks for solutions to keep the team moving forward. This might be anything from increasing challenges to asking for help. The leader should see opportunity in every set-back. Give yourself a point if you are a solution-oriented person.
A Team Leader never sits back and watches the game
To effectively lead a team, a person needs to always be engaged with the process of learning. Whether refining skills, setting goals, or cheering on the team, the leader always keeps focus on forward progress, for themselves to set an example, or for the team to achieve victory. Give yourself a point if you are willing to do the little extra things it takes to succeed.
Let’s total up your points: How did you do?
- 10 points: You are a natural leader and any team or work place would be lucky to have you. Napoleon, Jack Welch, or Barack Obama have nothing on you
- 8-9 points: You are a good leader. Your team is likely very loyal to you and holds you in high regard.
- 6-7 points: You most often have good leadership qualities. One day you will be asked to step to the front of the group, will you be ready?
- 4-5 points: You are probably a good support person to a strong leader, but your own leadership skills need work. Understand that you are an example to many on your team and even outside your team. Try to identify your strengths and capitalize on them.
- 2-3 points: You have some work to do. You may not have leadership potential now, but how about in the future. Can you develop some of the traits above? Your team may be counting on you.
- 1 point (or less): Uh oh. You are likely the type of person who needs to be led. No worries, without people like you, leaders would be all alone. Try to step it up and be a part of the team solution. Be sure you are not part of the team problem.