“You Can Always Be a Leader”

“I actually hate this drill.” The words slipped out of my mouth after seeing two goals a fields length away at practice last night. 

Our grad assistant coach inquired why and I told her that drills that look like this mean I get no shots, and when I do they’re unsaveable. She looked at me at me and said “Yeah, but you can always be a leader.”

Her words resonated with me for a second and then I realized how important it is to remember that in any situation, of any caliber, at any time, you can ALWAYS be a leader. 

When you’re a leader you’re someone who is willing to serve, but also guide. You’re influential but approachable, you’re empowering, you’re trusting and you’re self-aware. Being all of these things at once can be difficult, but leadership stems from heart and is something that can ALWAYS be present. It can be challenging thing to remember and an even more challenging thing to do, but if you want to be successful, it is a critical thing to understand.

A leader knows that they are not infallible.

Being a good leader honestly means the complete opposite, it means understanding that there will be moments where you are wrong and not only understanding them but recognizing and addressing them. They still take a bad touch, play the wrong pass and even have their off days, but they take full accountability when they mess up. The best leaders accept their faults and change the things in their power without any sense of self-pity.

A leader understands that they aren’t always the best fit for the job.

This is so absurdly clear in athletics. As a leader, you can’t be the all-star pitcher and catcher, you can’t be the good cop and the bad cap, you can’t score all the goals and stop them. But you can be the best possible person you can be in the best position you can play. 

This goes beyond the field or court. You can be the best CEO to ever exist and need an accountant because they’re better then you with numbers. A football coaching staff has a head coach, but positional coaches because they’re aware the even if their the ‘best leader’ there are still people who know more and can coach specific positions better. 

A leader has to lead others and that is impossible if they attempt to hold all responsibility. A leader understands that their job is to lead, not to control, and with that comes the responsibility to recognize that others have strengths that you do not.

A leader is a constant communicator. 

As a goalkeeper, this is the biggest way I lead on the field. From keeping my backline compact, to words of encouragement, to making sure everyone is marked up in the box on a corner kick; 95% of what I do on the field is communicate. 

Communication keeps things together or tears things apart on the field, in personal relationships and in the work place. Without communication, nothing is accomplished and no one is on the same page; with it, things get done, people understand their roles and there is very little grey area.

Communication is the easiest form of leadership. It takes minimal talent and maximum heart and can be a catalyst in success, on and off the field.

A leader has a strong work ethic.

This is, in my humble opinion, the most important part of good leadership and is exactly what my coach was talking about at practice yesterday. I was annoyed at the drill, knowing I would get minimal action and when I did face any shots the attacker would have full advantage. But being a leader, in that moment, was rooted in accountability. Being a leader meant working my ass off for the 30 minutes during a drill I absolutely hated. Being a leader meant not complaining but buying into the system and buying into the team’s needs even when the odds were stacked against me. Being a leader meant leading by example and putting 100% effort in when given the chance, even if that was just communication, positivity and the two saves I made in a 30 minute drill.  

 

My leadership skills developed and grew on the field and on the court, but have contributed to every single aspect of my life. From soccer to basketball, to group projects and being a sister, to babysitting and waiting tables. 

A leader isn’t perfect, but is teachable, approachable and willing to work. Sometimes we just need the reminder that leading is something we can always do, no matter the situation, the time of day or the place. Sometimes you will lead with your voice, sometimes you will lead with action, but you can always lead.

Sometimes we just need a reminder that leadership is instilled in all of us, and can and should be present in any situation. 

So, thanks for the reminder coach, that you can always be a leader. 

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