Whether you're a coach, a parent, or an interested observer, you bring more than your lawn chair to a game. You bring your ability to spot leadership, form a thought about that leadership, courage to share your thoughts, and an ability to express yourself. These are powerful tools!Accidental leadership may not even be noticed by the person leading or it might be attributed to something other than reality. But when you see and recognize leadership in action, it's awesome! This is something that gets me excited after three decades of leading people and after ten years of coaching. Are you cultivating leadership around the game? How I Define Accidental LeadershipI've been in the leadership game for a long time. I've mentored many leaders from complete newbies to seasoned veterans who have been leading others for decades. Some of what we do as leaders is learned. Some of it comes from who we are - whether we realize it or not. Accidental leadership happens around us all the time. People are doing things that bring others together, that help people overcome challenges, and that help others become the best versions of themselves. Many times, accidental leaders don't even know that they are having this positive effect on the world - or they attribute the positive things going on around them to other things besides their leadership. This phenomenon of having positive leadership effect, or not intentionally acting as a leader, and perhaps not realizing what they are doing is what I call accidental leadership. This Episode Inspired by Coach EmilyThis past week, I brought together half a dozen of my coaches - mostly from my 11U recreation program. Two of these coaches are doing their first season in recreation. Two have a few seasons under their belt. One is a veteran. We came together to solve a problem. The teams were wildly unbalanced this Spring and scores of 10 - 0 were all too common. We were working through the process using one of my favorite problem solving models:What's the problem? What are the causes of the problem? What are the potential solutions to the problem?What is your (our our) recommended solution to the problem?We were brainstorming our way through the discussion and Emily brought up that she had her 11 year-old recreation players teaching her 9-year-old recreation players certain skills. She saw this as a positive for her team and the reason why her team gelled so nicely on the pitch. She told the group that a father from the opponent's team commented on her's teams cohesiveness after a game and asked her what her secret is. Emily was convinced it was her 11-year-olds. I asked her to describe how she ran her practices. She, a teacher by trade, not having much experience with soccer, explained that she set up some friendly competitions. She told her players that whomever is able to do the skill they were training the best would be able to teach the others how to do it. Her 11-year-olds most often got the skill first and then took great pride (and had fun) demonstrating the skill for others, then guiding them through improvement. To be clear, there is a very valid reason to use players, assistants, and/or trainers to help demonstrate a skill during practice. As coaches, we are not likely going to be the best at demonstrating every technique that teams need to learn. For some of us, soccer wasn't our sport. For some of us, it's been decades since we've played. For some of us, the idea of dropping a bicycle kick shot on goal makes us wince. Using talented players, bringing in players from older teams, bringing in volunteer coaching assistants or trainers... all of these have their place in a good season. However, that's not exactly what was going on here. Teaching others how to do a skill was clearly framed, in Emily's example, as a reward. But she was establishing culture. Encouraging her players to do their best, seasoning her practices with friendly competition, and creating an environment where players were rew...
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