There are many lessons that young people learn through involvement with a team - whether it is an athletic team, speech and debate team, or a Science Olympiad team.
One of the obvious benefits for all participants is learning how to work with others to achieve a common goal. At the heart of the team are the talents and abilities of individuals. These individuals all need to learn the important personal attributes that are required to be an effective team member, including: development of self-discipline, taking responsibility and being accountable for their actions.
A useful resource to promote the development of these attributes is Proactive Coaching, whose resources help coaches and teams intentionally create positive team cultures and develop confident competitors, among other characteristics.
A key word in their approach is intentionality. As coaches, teachers and leaders of young people, we must be explicit and intentional about communicating with them the attributes they need to develop to be successful now and into the future as individuals and members of a team.
Proactive coaching promotes the following ten disciplines for athletes, which I have slightly modified: 1. Arrive early and energized; 2. Focus attention and effort for the entire training session; 3. Respect authority and opponents; 4. Take responsibility and be accountable for your actions; 5. Listen with positive intent and to learn; 6. Control your emotions and reactions even when others do not; 7. Maintain strong, confident body language; 8. Focus on details…do the small things well; 9. Earn your success…taking short cuts does not lead to success; and 10. Finish what you start and finish strong.
All of these disciplines require practice and repetition. Coaches, educators, and leaders need to recognize the efforts of individuals and positively reinforce their efforts to practice these disciplines. If you positively recognize and reinforce an individual when they use one of these disciplines, such as being early and energized, you will see the habit continue and develop.
One discipline we all need to help younger people develop is taking responsibility and being accountable. For example, when our child does not get the playing time they think they should have, there is a tendency to blame the coach. Or when the student does not get the A, it must be the teacher's fault. I would encourage all of us to step back and consider the extent to which the player/student took responsibility to get done what they needed to do to achieve the results they expected. Before shifting the responsibility to the coach or teacher, the player or student needs to be accountable for their actions.
More on this in upcoming editions.
Dave Gosselin coaches soccer and is the author of Focus on Them: Leading the mindset revolution for coaches educators, and business leaders.