After writing the post about the characteristics of a good team captain, I recalled something worthwhile on the subject of leadership. It’s applicable equally to captains and coaches, so I thought I’d share it here.

One of the great cinematic works of recent times is the HBO series Band of Brothers. If you haven’t seen this World War II story, and can deal with a fair bit of graphic war oriented footage, I strongly encourage you to watch the series. It is based on a book of the same name which documents the history of a real unit of US paratroopers – Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment – from their initial training through to the end of the war. The series includes interview footage of the surviving members of Easy Company and generally provides a good soldier’s perspective.

One of the officers for Easy Company is Dick Winters, who ends the war as a Major. He authored his own book titled Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters. In it he not only tells the story from his own perspective, which is a little different (though not dramatically so, just more a matter of perspective), but he also shares a number of his insights into leadership. At the end of the book there’s a page titled Leadership at the Point of the Bayonet. There, Winters shares his principles for leaders. I think they are well worth reviewing for volleyball coaches and are something which can help in the development of good team captains.

Ten Principles for Success
  1. Strive to be a leader of character, competence, and courage.
  2. Lead from the front. Say, “Follow me!” and then lead the way.
  3. Stay in top physical shape – physical stamina is the root of mental toughness (an interesting observation in light of what you can read in The Brain Always Wins).
  4. Develop your team. If you know your people, are fair in setting realistic goals and expectations, and lead by example, you will develop teamwork.
  5. Delegate responsibility to your subordinates and let them do their job. You can’t do a good job if you don’t have a chance to use your imagination and creativity.
  6. Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Don’t wait until you get to the top of the ridge and then make up your mind.
  7. Remain humble. Don’t worry about who receives the credit. Never let power or authority go to your head.
  8. Take a moment of self-reflection. Look at yourself in the mirror every night and ask yourself if you did your best.
  9. True satisfaction comes from getting the job done. They key to a successful leader is to earn respect – not because of rank or position, but because you are a leader of character.
  10. Hang Tough! – Never, ever, give up.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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