Michigan Football: Coach’s Corner — Is Leadership Natural or Developed — Part III
Ever since the mid 20th Century, practitioners of psychology and related human endeavors have fired volleys in the environment versus genetics skirmish. The guns are down with both sides agreeing that both play a large part in development and success. But both still trumpet that “their” chosen side is a little over the 50% mark.
So it is with leadership in any arena including sports teams. The natural leader, now under attack as a myth in some quarters, would be genetically enabled, while the developed leader would be almost the direct result of environment, in this case a purposeful leadership training program.
Those opposed to the natural leader position may state that everyone has qualities, some good, and some maybe not so good. These qualities are developed from birth by interaction with others in a setting simply termed an environment. And so the argument may continue from this premise to the conclusion that all qualities related to leadership are developed from environment.
As always in this nice pendulum argument, the genetic side would say that environment is similar for a majority of the population and that some people just simply have the characteristics, physical and otherwise, that clearly indicate high leadership potential. This same school would also place forward as examples those from environmental settings not ideal and note these specific instances show athletes with better leadership traits than those from the best environment. Society typically refers to those who overcome environmental impediments as success stories.
Leaders are frequently strong extroverts and strong introverts may tend to be followers. Extroversion is not how much a mouth runs at the mandibular notch, it is about actions based on a view of the inner world and outer world. Extroverts have a strong desire many times to talk, run the show, be first, and in general ascend to the top. They act in a stimulus/response mode based on what is immediately happening in their environment. Introverts retreat to the center of their being, and sometimes leadership may be difficult. But we have all heard of the quiet leader, one who leads by example. In contemporary sports, this is not enough, and many programs want/need multiple leaders, in short, as many as possible. And the expectation is for leaders to be active, not passive.
So, the modern coach could care less is a leader is natural or developed, the coach needs leaders. This is a result of the realization that sports teams, especially football teams, can no longer function with trickle down leadership from one head coach. Even an entire staff of good leaders is insufficient. The next best scenario is a coaching staff and a few selected athletes as leaders. Historically these types have been elected as captains, with roles that vary from team to team. But things have changed, and universal leadership is now a common quest. Next up is the final installment of the leadership series: Part 4- How to make leaders.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu
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