Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Often, we perceive a leader as only being the fastest member of the team or the oldest. But that’s not always true! No matter your age or your ability in and out of the water, you should never limit your potential to be a leader! Even if you weren’t voted team captain or you are a younger member of your team, you can contribute in many different ways.
The definition of a leader is “the process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal." On any team, there are informal and formal leaders. Typically, the formal leaders are the ones appointed by someone in authority to have this role. This might be your coach, athletic trainer, and even a school teacher. Then there are informal leaders that typically rise from within groups. These types of leaders can greatly effect a team since they have the respect and support of its members. These leaders include performance leaders that have a loud voice on deck, culture leaders that uphold a team values and visions, social leaders that help bring teams together, and organizational leaders that represent your team to the rest of the community.
Now think of your own skills that you bring to your team. Are you someone that is always cheering for your teammates so that they can do their best in and out of meets? Then you might be a performance leader! Or maybe you are a cultural leader that makes sure traditions and other expectations are kept apart of a team’s dynamic. Or perhaps you are the person that notices when someone is having a hard time, and they know that they can come to you for anything. Someone like that might be a social leader! Then organizational leaders typically represent your team in aspects such as student government, being a member of your LSC or maybe help represent your team at school meetings.
You don’t have to be just one type of leader either - all are equally important, and having multiple people that fill these leadership roles can really help a team succeed together! Strong leaders have accountability, confidence, loyalty, patience, and integrity. Never be afraid to stay true to who you are and continue to learn from the people around you.
Resources: Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, by Robert Weinberg and Daniel Gould