I searched for my resource on this and I could not find my original notes, but I believe that I first saw this in a clinic presentation by Gregg Brandon when he was the head coach at Bowling Green State University. I really liked how this simplified the idea of the levels of leadership, and this became a tool that I shared with my seniors in the off season.
The first part of every off season really began as more of a coach driven setting that we would turn over the reins more and more to our leaders, who were primarily seniors. At the beginning of the off season, which was typically around January, the focus would be individual goal setting. We wanted players to first to be concerned with what they needed to do to prepare themselves individually for the next season. Their role was to become the best they could be for the team. As our leadership meetings began, we would start to share information on leadership and help our seniors become better leaders.
Spring was always the time where we really wanted to begin an emphasis on “team,” not that we weren’t building it all along, but we needed to prepare our seniors to take on the leadership role and be able to influence others in a positive way. It was a process of moving away from self and into serving others. Again, don’t imply this as we weren’t building team; the first part of the off season was more about coaches modeling positive leadership. It should be noted that if players see coaches approach individuals who are not doing things in the right way with negativity, most likely when it’s the players turn to step up they will handle their teammates in the same way. As frustrating as it might get at times, positive approach will get better results. If you have to make a tough decision to let someone go, then do it, but don’t let a few negative individuals turn your environment into one of negative reinforcement.
Coach Brandon’s leadership ladder clearly defines the levels of leadership that you would like your players to work towards. The idea for us was to move everyone to at least a “level 3 unselfish.” Seniors were expected to be at the level of “self sacrifice” and “high investment in others,” and obviously those who were captains needed to be at the top of the ladder.
Spring then became about creating opportunities through team competition and activities for our leaders to show what they were becoming as leaders, and the daily leadership of workouts was turned over to seniors more and more.
At this point, the coaches modeling from the first few months of the off season should be reflected in your players. Now the focus for the coaches becomes finding great examples of self sacrifice and high investment in others and pointing those out to the team and privately reinforcing that with the individuals who are displaying that behavior. “Johnny, I really liked how you helped that freshman lifting group today. That’s the way to help us get better!” Attention to what your players are doing to help each other will breed more of it and push your team up the ladder.
I attached a Word document for you to use if you like this idea.
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