Be a Model Before You Are a Role Model

You have to be a model before you are a role model.

I give speeches. It’s the job of the one who has a position of authority to speak to the group. But, I’ve read a book recently called the Captain’s Class that questions the weight put on public speaking as a leadership technique.

In the book, the author Sam Walker studies the most successful athletic teams in modern history. His goal was to identify the key element that would make the team a dynasty. It turns out the key wasn’t what you might expect: an ultra talented star or a great coach. The defining characteristic was the presence of a “captain.”

We have an image of a “captain”: best player, most charismatic, highest profile, heroic. According to Walker, the prototype captain doesn’t turn out to be the most effective.

The best captains are great one-on-one. They have a gift that allows them to speak with teammates as a peer. They counsel teammates both on and off the field. They encourage and motivate. They challenge and hold others accountable. They enforce standards. They wander into conflicts and are agents of reconciliation. They set the tone. Every day.

Many people resist leadership because it feels too “public.” While it is sometimes necessary to be public, this book reports that there is much effective leadership done one on one.

You see things that should be addressed.

A new teammate doesn’t have the right technique. Teach him.

A safety procedure is being ignored. Point it out.

Someone isn’t pulling his weight. Challenge him.

Be the teammate that helps. Be the model of effort and energy for the team.

Do it today. Repeat it tomorrow

You don’t have to be a public speaker to lead. Be your best self. Your teammates will notice.

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