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Leadership Learning: Models of Team Leadership (Part III)

Throughout my years of working alongside collegiate teams and their coaches, I have had the privilege of seeing a) leadership models which work, and b) models that aren’t as effective (in my opinion). I have been asked a lot this year about which models of team leadership I have seen be most successful and which I recommend, so I decided to lay out some aspects of effective team leadership I have learned over the years.

Disclaimer: There are many ways in which team leadership can be great, functional, and effective, so my way is not the only way. I am simply offering a provenly-effective model for which I have used in hopes that it will either help you and your team or allow you to mold your leadership model to best serve your team. This is part three of a three-part series that covers Identifying Leaders and Team Captains (Part I), Non-Captain Leaders & Cultivating Future Leaders (Part II), and my preferred Model of Team Leadership (Part III) to wrap it up.

Preferred Model of Team Leadership

In this final part of the “Models of Team Leadership” series, I would like to lay out a model that I have used for a number of years with different teams. This model addresses how to properly engage team captains, non-captain leaders, and work to ensure the recurring cultivation of future leaders throughout the years. This model can always be modified to fit individual programs, but the most commonly used version is what I will display below.

Structure of the Leadership Group

The best way I have seen this type of leadership group work is to adhere to the following recipe for success:

To wrap up, team leaders are the ones who drive the culture of a program, even when the coach is not present. Investing in leaders within a team is not only the smart thing to do, but also the right thing to do. It will help players be better leaders within the institution, their friend groups, their families, and in their future careers. Leadership learning teaches skills that go far beyond the court and the campus. If this season in NCAA Division III Men’s Volleyball taught us anything, it is that anything is possible, great teams can lose to unranked teams, and culture matters. As much as coaches focus on skill, talent development, film, and practice plans, they should equally focus on leadership and player development throughout the year.

As always, if this resonates with you or you have questions/comments about this topic, feel free to email me at I love connecting with players and coaches throughout the landscape to talk about leadership, the mental game, team culture, and more!

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