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7 Truths of Great Leadership


If I were to ask you what is the most important skill a basketball coach can teach their athletes what would you answer? Is it to shoot a jump shot? Is it to dribble with both hands? It is to read defenses? What if I told you that this skill actually had nothing to do with a basketball? The greatest skill that a coach can teach their players is the skill of being an effective leader. While athletic ability might come and go, leadership is something that your players will be able to take with them for the rest of their lives. However, one the hardest parts of teaching athletes how to be a leader lies with the fact that there are so many myths about leadership.

Here are the 7 truths that coaches need to teach athletes about leadership:

Leadership Truths

Leadership Truth #1: What is Successful Leadership?

At its simplest form leadership is about the ability to get others to follow you. However successful leaders know that successful leadership is about much more than just getting others to follow you. Jack Welch one said, “before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself, when you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” This is worth repeating: successful leaders GROW their followers. While coaches often talk about the importance of leadership to their kids how many are actually taking the time to clearly define what successful leadership is? How can we expect athletes to develop as leaders if we do not clearly define what successful leadership is?

Leadership Truth #2: Leaders Lead by Example

The best leaders are those who are willing to lead by example. By showing followers that you are not afraid to do the work yourself, you will gain credibility and respect which in turn will make your leadership that more effective.

Leadership Truth #3: Leaders Are Made NOT Born

Everyone has heard at least one person describe someone as a “natural born leader”. However, research tells us that this couldn’t be any farther from the truth. The art of leadership is a skill that anyone can learn. Over the past fifty years, theories on what makes a leader have completely evolved; from the “Great Man Approach” (leaders are born) to Trait Theories and Contingency Approaches just to name a few. If you are struggling with where to start when developing players into leaders it’s with this; Leaders are not born. Anyone can learn to become an effective leader!

Leadership Truth #4: To Lead Others, You Must Be Person Of Character.

In order to lead others, you must first be a person committed to following your own set of values. Your values and beliefs will be the foundation of your leadership style.

Leadership Truth #5: Great Leaders Aren’t Going To Be Liked By Everyone

While this might seem a little contradictive at first, this makes logical sense. One component that successful leaders have is that they are able to put the overall group’s interest over that of an individual’s needs. When you are making these kinds of decisions there will always be someone in the minority. One of the biggest reasons researchers are finding why young kids aren’t inclined to step forth and lead is because of fear, more specifically rejection. As a leader, you have to be willing to stand up and voice your opinion. This act makes individuals vulnerable to the criticism of others. Young leaders need to be reassured that IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE LIKED BY EVERYONE.

Leadership Truth #6: Without a Purpose or Goal, People Will Not Follow

Leaders start with having a goal or vision in mind. If the leader does not stand for anything how can he or she expect people to follow? More so, if a leader does not have a goal how can the results of the group be measured?

Leadership Truth #7: Leaders Understand the Importance of Personal Development

Anyone involved in a team knows that the team is only as strong as its weakest link. Great leaders not only understand this concept, but embrace it. This is one of the primary reasons why leaders often encourage others to consistently devote time to personal development. Successful coaches such as Phil Jackson and now Steve Kerr and players like Chris Paul and Stephon Curry have all been on the record saying how important it is for their career that they develop individually. There are books, articles and even videos available for people wishing to develop.

Written By Dave Stricklin

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