Biggest Leadership Challenge

Thank you for the question coach.

It’s a question I get asked often.  Each program is unique but I believe the players within each program are more similar then they are different.

Regardless of the program I’m working with, a common challenge I face is trying to move players beyond what I call “momentary leadership.”  

Our players have tendencies to behave as leaders “sometimes” or “at times” rather then all the time. They step up on game days but are silent in practice.  They make their presence felt in the locker room but are distant in the hallways.  They are fully engaged during the season but go missing in the offseason.  You have any players or teammates like that?

To produce the impact leaders can make, your leadership needs to be lifestyle, not just something you do only in moments. You can’t pick and choose the days you feel like acting like a leader.

It doesn’t work like that.

There’s two reasons momentary leadership fails us.

1 – Your teammates won’t respect you enough.


You’re not consistent enough. Players try to assert themselves as a leader, but their teammates don’t respect them enough to fully listen because they’ve seen their previous behavior.

I feel bad for my players when I see this playing out and it happens often.

I’ll see a player valiantly attempt to get their teammates fired up, get them going and keep the spirits high. I can feel in that moment the player desperately wanting to move their teammates but their teammates aren’t moving. What the player is doing isn’t a negative but their effectiveness is limited based on their own inconsistencies.

Being a leader at times, sometimes, when I feel like it, against our rivals, during the playoffs, when Coach plays me… doesn’t cut it.

You can’t make the impact leaders have the potential of making when you approach leadership that way. It needs to be a lifestyle and who you are.

2 – You won’t be equipped

Leaders aren’t leaders because they woke up one day and became one.

They’re leaders because they’ve worked at it. They’ve developed the habits and worked on their behaviors that have put them in the position to lead.. They’ve made a point to live their lives to a higher standard. They have reached out and built relationships with their teammates. They frequently think about leadership stuff; how to get the most out of their teammates, how to raise the energy of the team, how to best hold their teammates accountable and more.

They’re constantly making deposits (learning/practicing) so when it’s time to make a withdraw (have a tough conversation, move their teammates) they’re able to do it without bouncing the check.

When you only lead in moments you’re never fully equipped to effectively handle the situation. You’ll try to have that tough conversation with a teammate and it blows up in your face. You’ll attempt to speak up in a players-only meeting and it’ll do more harm then good.

It’s like when a defender in basketball makes you go left but you don’t really practice using your left hand… we all know what’s coming… turnover!

Many of us are trying to lead our teams while subscribing to a momentary leadership approach.

You’ve got to spend more then just an occasional moment developing your leadership skills if you hope to lead effectively when the moments need you most.

This leads us to another set of questions; why do players subscribe to “momentary leadership” and how do we move them to serving in a leadership role more consistently.  Both great questions for future blogs.

Stay-connected to Lead ‘Em Up for more leadership content.