Dear Team Captain:
As a team leader your task is to evoke excellence in others. Great leaders are eager to help someone else improve at what he or she wants to do. The key question you should ask on a daily basis is "How do I contribute to a teammate's competence in a respectful, dignified, and effective way." The answers will help you become an effective team leader.
Here are five core concerns that you should be aware of as you work to build respectful relationships with your teammates.
Concern #1: Appreciation
Every member of your team wants to know that their thoughts, feelings, and actions are valued by the coaches and teammates. Everyone on the team puts in a tremendous amount of time and energy to achieve shared goals. Try to find ways to show your teammates appreciation for their commitment to the team. Encourage teammates to demonstrate appreciation for each other.
Concern #2: Association
Your teammates wants to be treated as an integral part of something meaningful. They want to be valued by teammates and not excluded from team functions away from the playing field. That is, each student-athlete will make a deeper commitment to the team when they feel a strong sense of association.
Unfortunately, sport teams all too often breed an in-group out-group mentality. Injuries too can seem alienating to team members. When teammates can't participate because of injuries be sure to keep them close to you and the rest of the team.
Concern #3: Self-Management
Student-athletes want to be respected for their ability to make decisions in their best interest. Most of your teammates will possess a desire to be self-directing. However, this does not mean they don't want your help. It just means you need to help them set their direction and stay on course.
Concern #4: Status
Every team member is concerned with his or her status on the team and their "relative position" to teammates. Bench players, in particular, want to be given recognition and not to be treated as inferior to others. While it is generally evident who the best players are on the playing field, the contributions others make in the various roles should not be relegated to second-class status by you and your teammates.
Concern #5: Role
Each of your teammates desires a role to play and truly wants that role to be fulfilling. It's common for athletes to perceive their role in an ambiguous way. Through patience your guidance can help teammates understand, accept, and grow in their respective role. You can point the way by helping teammates make sense of their role on and off the playing field. Your teammates will be seeking and serving in a variety of roles throughout the season. Some more vital than others. Always pay attention to your teammates and help them to find value in their role.
In summary, each teammate will have a different perception of how his or her 5 Core Concerns are being met. Perceptions should be visible in their various behaviors, attitudes, emotional reactions and thought patterns. Your leadership task is to continually work at identifying underlying problems and find solutions. This is best done when you actively engage in honest conversation with your teammates building solid relationships. Great leaders care to know their teammates.