Drawing the Lines of a Leader Written By Shannon Murray
Almost every softball team votes or has designated team captains. Normally these are the girls that are seen as the best players on the team or have the most outgoing personality. But did you know that team leaders don’t have to be captains? If you didn’t, then you may not even know that you are seen as a leader on your team. Captains are meant to be the leaders of the team, but they are not the only ones. Is there one criteria to be met in order to be seen as a captain? These are some of the questions that come to mind when we are determining how to draw the lines of our team leaders.
Personally, I prefer to refer to team captains as team leaders. In my opinion, the word leader presents a stronger emphasis on the definition of the word, and in my personal experience has given a little more push to those girls trying to fulfill those roles. Diversity comes in handy when it comes to selecting the leaders of your softball team. Every girl has different strengths and weaknesses that should be utilized and accommodated for. Some girls on the team will be more vocal leaders and others will lead by action. Either of which can make a great team leader. I believe in having more than one team leader on the team to balance out strengths and weaknesses. Not only is there diversity in leadership skills, but also in the way the rest of the girls will respond to each captain’s leadership style. It would be rare to say that every girl on the team could one hundred percent agree with one team captain’s leadership ways. That is why it’s good to have some mix in the leaders. No matter what girls are selected as the team leaders, they should all understand that being a leader means you are there to serve the girls on your team and not yourself.
However, there are plenty of leaders on the team that are not official. They are the girls you see encouraging their teammates after striking out. These are the young ladies that stay after practice to take more swings or grounders and the rest of the team follows. The unofficial team leaders are the girls that will pick up equipment, share their gear and lend a helping hand all without being asked just because they know it’s what’s best for the team. They don’t see these tasks as beneath them or for anyone else but every girl on the team. Just as much as the official leaders on your teams, they too deserve to be recognized for their hard work and selfless dedication to making the team better. We must not forget these girls and their good service to the team that sometimes goes by right in front of us.
So what are the qualities to look for in team leaders? For this answer, there is no one answer. There are many and the right one will vary for each team. Every softball team has a different team dynamic and therefore requires a little bit of research to determine who will make the best team leader on it. Overall, there are some qualities that I look for in team leaders that could be taken into consideration on any team. I seek girls that are motivational. They want to win, reach goals, be a team play and a positive influence without even trying. This is their personality and it speaks to the team with or without words. Good team leaders have a vision. Their vision is realistic, inspirational, contagious and is one for the whole team (not just themselves). A good leader to me is a young woman that can exhibit good sportsmanship and get everyone on board with her vision.
Now that we’ve thought about what a good leader for a softball team is, what do we do as coaches? As any coach knows, we are not just building exceptional softball players, but also exceptional young women. By doing so, when we pick our team captains we are building future leaders. As the coach it is our responsibility to guide our team leaders and encourage them to embrace their leadership skills. You never know, you could be coaching a future college coach, the future president or CEO of a major corporation. But as we give them support and encouragement in these leadership roles, we can develop confident young women.
Let us remember that leaders aren’t born, but rather made. They are created by a large amount of factors, but how they built in softball is something we can help with. Educator and author Peter Drucker said, “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” Let us draw the lines of our leaders beyond their thinking of what is their limits, and show them they can lead teams to success farther than they could imagine.
Shannon Murray Originally from Lawrenceville, Georgia, Shannon graduated in June 2013 from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. She played four years as a starting Pitcher and Utility player for the Vikings. She is now an Assistant Coach at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, IL. Going on 9 years of coaching experience, this is her first position at the collegiate level. She plans on coaching for many years to come and give back to the sport that gave so much to her.
Shannon’s ultimate goal is to teach her players that they are astounding young women with the potential to be great softball players through hard work, dedication and sacrifice.
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