Captain, my Captain



This week I had the amazing opportunity to work with a team. A real team. A soccer team. A group of individuals that must work together to achieve a collective goal.

I reference ‘real’ not to be hyperbolic, but because sports offer a window into what teamwork really can be. A truly collective effort. I say this, as compared to organizations that can function under the veil of ‘team’, but often times can achieve their goals with, or without the collective effort of everyone.

My son’s former soccer coach and a dear friend, invited me to speak to his Ontario Provincial Development League (OPDL) 2006 girls team, about what it means to be a captain. His captaincy program would have each member of the squad (at some point in the season) wearing the arm-band signifying their appointment. As most know, this is typically an honour bestowed upon one individual on a given team.

Sort of like a manager.

In this case, it would be shared. What a novel concept. Shared responsibility. Shared leadership. Shared appreciation for the challenges faced on and off the field.

His approach, made it even more important that everyone enjoy a common set of captaincy values. As I said in a previous post, for those values to be collectively embraced and to have maximum impact, they would need to come directly from the teammates themselves.

That’s exactly what happened.

Through a very simple leadership exercise, the girls sought about first identifying, then explaining what made particular leaders (past, present and future) successful. What values did they exemplify? Then, from this larger list of values these OPDL athletes, distilled out the most important values to them, as a team and as future captains.

I am rarely in awe watching participants engage in training efforts. But this was different. It was awesome to watch these budding superstars, of a sport I love, take on this challenge and with an enthusiasm I wish every organizational leader would exude. I was honoured to be part of the process.

For what it’s worth, their selected values were as follows: Helper, Determined, Fighter and Leads by Example.

There is a lesson for any leader in those values.

Amazing to think what we could all achieve if we approached our teamwork like these girls did...

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