Mental Skill #9 - Leadership

Unlocking the Leader Within: Empowering Athletes to Start a Leadership Journey


Leadership is an important quality for athletes, both on and off the field. Many of us interpret leadership by way of leading others.


In order to lead others, you have to be able to lead yourself first!

In this article we will discuss the importance of leadership for you as an athlete, the key attributes of a good leader, and how you as an athlete you can develop leadership skills. In future articles we will break down how to lead yourself, and how to lead others in more detail or you can check out our signature courses on leadership below.

The Importance of Leadership for Athletes

Team Success: Effective leadership can be the driving force behind a team's success. A strong leader can help foster a positive team environment, encourage collaboration, and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal.

Personal Growth: Developing leadership skills can help you grow both personally and professionally. It can improve your communication skills, decision-making abilities, and overall confidence.

Role Model: Athletes who display strong leadership qualities often become role models for younger teammates. You can inspire others to work hard, stay committed, and strive for performance excellence.

Key Attributes of a Good Leader

Communication: Effective communication is crucial for a leader. Leaders must be able to clearly express their thoughts and ideas, as well as listen to and understand the perspectives of your teammates.

Empathy: A good leader is empathetic and can relate to the challenges their teammates face. Leaders are supportive and understanding, helping others overcome obstacles and improve their performance.

Decision-making: Leaders must have the ability to make tough decisions under pressure. Leaders should be able to analyze situations, weigh the pros and cons, and choose the best course of action.

Confidence: A leader must have confidence in their abilities and decisions. This confidence can instill trust in your teammates, allowing them to follow your guidance with assurance.

Accountability: A strong leader takes responsibility for their actions and the actions of their team. They are willing to admit when they are wrong and work to correct their mistakes.

Adaptability: Effective leaders can adapt to changing situations and remain composed under pressure. They are able to adjust their strategies and tactics as needed to achieve the desired outcome.

Developing Leadership Skills

Self-reflection: As an athlete you should regularly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. This self-awareness can help you identify areas for improvement and develop a plan for growth.

Mentorship: Seek guidance from coaches, teammates, or other leaders in your sport. Learning from the experiences of others can provide valuable insights and lessons.

Education: Reading books, attending workshops, or participating in courses on leadership will help you develop leadership skills, just like you would your technical sport skills. These resources can provide valuable information and strategies for developing your leadership qualities.

Practice: Like any skill, leadership requires practice. Seek opportunities to lead both on and off the field, such as captaining a team, organizing events, or volunteering in your community.

Feedback: Be open to feedback from your teammates and coaches. Constructive criticism can help identify areas for improvement and facilitate growth as a leader.


Leadership is an essential skill for athletes and it is no wonder it is one of the mental skills in the list! It contributes to both personal and team success. By developing strong communication, empathy, decision-making, and adaptability skills, athletes can become effective leaders and role models in their sport. Through self-reflection, mentorship, education, practice, and feedback, athletes can continuously improve their leadership abilities and contribute to the success of their team.

Key Take Aways

  1. Self-leadership is essential: Before your can effectively lead others, you must first learn to lead yourself. Developing self-awareness, setting goals, practicing self-discipline, managing time effectively, enhancing emotional intelligence, and much more are key principles of self-leadership.

  2. Leading others contributes to team success: Effectively leading others can contribute to the overall success of your team. Effective communication, empathy, inspiration, delegation, decision-making, and adaptability are key principles of leading others.

  3. Continuous growth and development is crucial: Developing leadership skills and abilities is an ongoing process. You should engage in self-reflection, seek mentorship, pursue education, practice leadership in various settings, and be open to feedback in order to continuously improve their leadership qualities.

Reflective Moment

How can I apply the principles of self-leadership and leading others in my own athletic journey?

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