10 Qualities of an ULTIMATE Leader in Sport

2nd February 2024
Read time: 1 mins 50 secs

What makes a great leader?

Is it an ability? Is it a skill? Is it knowledge? Is it an experience?

While I think these are truly important to be credible.

There are invisible elements of leadership that we can all adopt RIGHT NOW!

These attributes will take you from being someone who may not be taken seriously enough to someone who others look up to and look towards for guidance and leadership.

These characteristics will have others looking to you to lead them.

And most importantly, these characteristics will not only improve the way you manage others but also how you feel about yourself.

Lets get into them, and in no particular order.

1. Accountable

The very top leaders are accountable.

When they make a decision, it’s on them.

The successes, the failures, and the mistakes—they own them all.

Poor leaders blame others, they deflect the attention to something else.

They don’t take ownership of what they’ve done, which stops the ability to grow and learn.

When leaders own what they do, are accountable, they become respected, humble, and relatable to us.

2. Empathetic

Great leaders care about their people.

Genuinely care.

And to do this, they have to place theselves in their experience.

Trying to understand people as a full.

It’s about creating meaningful relationships.

By trying to understand their situation.

By putting themself in their shoes.

Being aware of their thoughts and feelings, rather than disregarding them for their own needs and wants.

Empathetic leaders use compassion and shared experience to develop their relationships with others.

And when we build meaningful relationships, everyone wins.

3. Lead by example

Do as I say, not as I do.

Great leaders are in the trenches with their team.

Not shouting commands that they would never do or have never done themselves.

Leading by example is the quickest way to gain respect and build strong connections with others.

4. Honest

Keep your word.

Telling the truth about successes and failures.

Giving honest feedback.

It sounds so simple, but you’ll be surprised (or maybe you won’t) at how many leaders don’t.

Being honest with those they are in charge of gains respect.

Dishonesty never works in the long run.

And most of all, they’ll build a reputation as someone who is dishonest.

Choose honesty.

5. Adaptable

Not everyone is the same.

Not every game is the same.

Not every season is the same.

Being able to adapt to different people, environments, and moments is a great characteristic of a great leader.

Great leaders are able to be fluid in their approach.

They aren’t rigid.

They don’t require everything to be perfect.

They allow for change to occur, and they understand that not every person or situation is able to perform best with the same approach.

Being adaptable can be a superpower for a leader.

6. Communication

I think some of the biggest issues I’ve experienced with leaders have been their communication.

On the flip side, the most successful leaders I’ve seen are incredible communicators.

Those who are being led need to know what to do, what is expected, or what advice is given.

Being able to communicate effectively with their people is the way to better understand them, get points across, and build effective relationships.

Coaches such as Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola are known for their communication styles.

Talking to players like people.

Communication is probably the single most important attribute of a leader.

Get this one right, and everything becomes easier.

7. Self-Awareness

We all need self-awareness, but leaders especially.

Being aware of their impact on others.

Self-awareness allows us to grow.

Self-aware leaders are aware of their personalities, their strengths, and their weaknesses.

If leaders want their people to be self-aware, they must practice it themselves to show how it’s done.

8. Integrity

Having integrity as a leader is about being trustworthy, reliable, and, again, staying true to their word.

It could be living the values that they preach.

When people see leaders living what they preach, it shows they have integrity.

Having integrity as a leader is rocket fuel for respect.

9. Humility

Being a humble leader creates connection.

Being a leader who believes they are superior and arrogant creates disconnection.

Having a grounded sense of humility opens up so many more possibilities as a leader.

Humility opens up the ability to know what you don’t know, learn from others, and give credit to others where it’s due. Rather than taking all the success and praise from themselves.

Humble leaders know that sport (and life) is a team game.

We get further together and enjoy the journey far more.

10. Driven

Leaders are looked to for motivation and inspiration.

Drive also creates results, and that’s what most leaders (and those being led) want at the end of the day.

Being driven as a leader helps give drive to others.

It can be infectious.

Especially in moments of challenge.

A driven leader will find a way because they want to find success.

People will need drive when the chips are down, and they will look to their leaders for it.

I’ve had some great leaders in my career, and some not so great.

This list is not the gospel, but I believe if you can practice them, whether you’re a leader now or in the future, you’ll not only be a great leader or athlete, but a good human being too.

Whenever you're ready, there is a couple of ways I can help you:

MindStrong Sport App – Mental Skills Training for Athletes

Personal Mindset Coaching - Contact for more

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