A few weeks ago I asked the MHSAA Student Advisory Council to help me prepare for a presentation at a leadership program for students of a league in southeast Michigan. I asked the SAC members what qualities they looked for in a team leader. They listed 13. In alphabetical order, they were:
- Being a good citizen.
- Being compassionate.
- Being competitive.
- Being confident
- Being encouraging/motivating.
- Being hard-working.
- Being honest/trustworthy.
- Being humble/modest.
- Being a good listener.
- Being a mediator.
- Being a skilled athlete.
- Being a quick thinker.
- Being vocal/loud.
Then I asked the SAC members to vote on the relative importance of the 13. Each member was allowed two votes, and each could split his/her vote, or put both votes on a single trait.
- Do you know how many votes being vocal or loud received? Zero.
- Being a skilled athlete? Only a few votes.
What got the most votes, by a wide margin, were being competitive and being hard-working. It is being a hard-working competitor that leads people. That could be, but isn’t necessarily, the best athlete. The more essential qualities of a team leader are not physical – not being the biggest, fastest or best athlete. The essential qualities are more intangible; and they are attainable for all athletes, regardless of their size or athletic ability. It’s leading by example.