Tag Archive - sports

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Leadership is a Team Sport

I find myself turning into one of those dads who brag on their kids. All four of them have strengths and things they’re brilliant at. But Lincoln, my 7-year old, is the athlete of the bunch. He’s fast, athletic, and is a winner (he gets it from his mom). He’s usually the smallest kid on the field, but he doesn’t know it. And he usually goes after the biggest kid on the field. He has that quarterback personality that people are drawn to and he simply believes he can’t lose and that he shouldn’t lose. It’s just hard-wired in him.

Don’t worry I’m not that delusional dad who is set on his kid being a D-1 athlete. But I am glad he’s playing team sports. Because leadership is a team sport, and he’s learning some incredible leadership lessons at a young age that will serve him well the rest of his life.

Most of us adults who are leading would do well to remind ourselves of some of those leadership lessons we can pick up from playing team sports.

1. Learn to Lose

Unless you live a very, very, very blessed life you’re probably going to experience some losses in life. Learning to lose gracefully and bounce back from a loss is a key to team sports. It’s one thing to be beat and lose, it’s a completely other thing to adopt a losers mindset.

2. Learn to Win

The point of playing the game is to win (forget all that don’t keep score and everybody gets a trophy stuff). If it’s worth playing, it’s worth winning. You want your team to adopt a winning mindset and get in the habit of winning. Let’s face it losing isn’t fun. People want to be a part of a winning team. But there’s a reason coaches tell players to, “Act like you’ve been there.” Pride will destroy a team.

3. Authority

At some point every talented player, if they’re going to be a great player, has to learn to submit to the authority of the coach. That it’s not their team, that they’re not running practices, making decisions, or calling the plays. Coach is. The faster everyone realizes who’s in charge and submits to his or her authority the faster the team can get on with winning.

4. Coaching

World-class athletes need coaching. In fact one of the reasons that they’re world-class athletes is because they recognize that they need coaching. They know how to receive, embrace, and learn from their coaches. Even though they’re at the top of the game, the pinnacle of their industry, they’re literally life-long learners when it comes to their craft.

5. Teamwork

You can go fast alone, but you can go far together. When it comes to team sports, mediocre players that have a great team mindset will always beat great players that have a mediocre team mindset. Relationships are key to any winning team. Winning teams don’t win alone they win together. They work hard at the relational integrity of the team. It leads to trust. And a talented team that trusts each other can go far together.

6. Hard Work

Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. You want to play to win you have to practice to win. Winning isn’t easy. The old adage still rings true today, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

7. Playing Position

Not everybody can play every position on the field. Each position takes a certain mindset, skillset, and body type. When you play to each player’s strength by placing each player in the right position, and when they stay in position, the team has a chance to win.

8. Team First

When you play a team sport you quickly realize that while there may be many players on the field, only one player can have the ball at any given time. And if you want to win, you’ve got to learn to put the team before yourself.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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Why Selfish Players Lose But Sometimes Win

If you’ve ever been on a team you know that from time to time you’re going to come across a ball-hog. You know the type, a selfish player whose goal is to become a human highlight reel in order to get to the next level. They don’t care about the team or respect the game. In fact they use the game and the team to get what they want, which usually means notoriety and the admiration of others. The sad truth is that this doesn’t just show up on the field or on the court but it shows up on church staff teams as well.

1. Selfish Players Wear Everyone Out

It’s exhausting to have a selfish player on the team. They have to talk in every meeting, their idea has be the one that is used, they have a tendency to blame others when things go wrong, and the coach has to handle them with kid gloves. An exorbitant amount of energy gets put into managing around these players’ and it’s usually tolerated because of the talent they bring to the table. But the reality is no matter how appealing it may look to have that talent on the team, eventually the price you pay in keeping them on the team ends up wearing out the team.

2. Losing with a Selfish Player Accelerates the Process

Losing is no fun for anyone. But it gets worse when you have a selfish player on the team. When you have a player that has to be the center of attention and the game starts slipping away and you begin to lose, that player simply becomes more of who they already are. They pass less, they take shots earlier in the shot clock, and they get visibly upset with other players. If you’ve got a selfish player on the team and the game goes south, everyone else on the team will have the tendency to give up and throw the towel in faster due to the lack of morale on the team.

3. Selfish Players Win Sometimes

You can win with a selfish player. In fact depending on how talented the player is you can win a lot of games with a selfish player. But you can’t win championships with a selfish player. Players on championship teams have to give up their own interests and ego and become a role player on the team for the betterment of the team. Many churches are stuck because they have an incredibly talented player that has carried the team on their back, but has taken them as far as they can on their own. To move forward will mean taking a new approach and playing a role on the team instead of carrying the team.

4. Great Players Make Good Players Better

The greatest single determining factor between a good player and a great player is that good players play their role and carry their load, while great players not only play their role but they elevate everyone else’s game by the way they play. They find the open player in transition; they know how to distribute the ball and who to get it to in what situation. They know when to push the tempo and when to slow things down. When things go wrong they gather the team together and look everyone in the eye and encourage the team to get on the same page. They don’t shrink back under pressure and in clutch moments not only do they want the ball, but the other players on the team want them to have the ball.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing