I consider myself a natural-born leader. Through this, I have played multiple roles as a leader. One of the most notable of these is when I became the team captain of our High School Volleyball Team even when I was only in my sophomore year until my senior year. Since Junior High, I have been a part of the women’s volleyball team of our school. Thus, when I reached my sophomore year, I was elected as the team captain notwithstanding the fact that we have 3 Juniors and 4 Seniors on our team. I knew the cell block of pressure that I had to break into as well as the towering expectation to win a back-to-back championship for our team. Nevertheless, I am proud that I have valiantly faced it. I remember I would lead the morning exercises, so I have to be 15 minutes earlier than the call time. I have to look into every member of our team especially when one is underperforming or not attending diligently. Consequently, I also have to deal with their personal issues and gave them the support they need. I created policies to encourage 100% attendance and address issues on punctuality. Furthermore, I led the study group of our team where we collaborate and cooperate in reviewing our subjects and this has created a system of having a “buddy” from a higher year which would help their lower year “buddies”. During inter-school competitions. I made calls inside the court for plays and even substitutions. I would question referee calls and ask if there was any ambiguity in the player’s position in court. Above all, I would uplift the team when we are struggling to get points and kept them grounded every win. Still, I consider the creation of an academic committee in our team my biggest contribution during my terms as a team captain. This helped the team in balancing their academics and athletics.
Being a leader of an all-girl group, one of the most prominent dilemmas is the presence of girl fights mostly about having a position in the first six, envy, favoritism of the coach, and sometimes boys. I found that we were not jelling well as a team since everyone is focused on their individual skills. Because of these, I initiated and organized a camp where we had an opportunity to get to know each other more and established a more robust connection with each other. Through this, together with constant reminders of the significant role of every member of the team – on the court and on the bench – we effectively found our rhythm as a team. Subsequently, we won the championship for four (4) consecutive seasons.
But I am not a perfect leader. I had my share of mistakes and failures. For instance, I had been rigid during my junior year. I was so passionate to win the championship that I implemented the rules strictly leaving no allowance for understanding the plight of my teammates. What happened was one of my teammates was brought to the hospital because of an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear on her knee. I know I am partly at fault for requiring them to train three (3) times a day for six (6) days a week. This scheme compromised the health and safety of the team leading to the said injury. After the incident, another teammate suggested that we lessen the training time for our bodies to recover. I immediately consulted the team who unanimously agreed. Accordingly, we adopted a reduced time for training. However, I felt guilty for allowing my teammates to be part of the unhealthy and unsafe practice I initiated. Moving forward, I learned to be more consultative with my teammates, the coaches, and other relevant stakeholders before adopting a policy.
Finally, I consider myself a collaborator. I stand by my principle that a leader takes people where they want to go, but a great leader takes her people to where they ought to be. With that being said, I made myself adjust according to every situation. That is, I can be democratic most of the time, but I can also be authoritarian when circumstances call. In one instance, I have dealt with a teammate who always went to training sessions thirty (30) minutes late without valid justification. I have called her attention several times but to no avail. During one of the training sessions, I recommended her to our coaching staff who subsequently expelled her from our team after finding out that she has been attending parties every night before our training. Nonetheless, as a collaborator, I encouraged my teammates to present suggestions in the game and even after the game for our evaluation. This opened conversations that helped improve our team.
In conclusion, the circumstances above prove that being a good leader is difficult. It is not a lone work. Strong foundations, the dedication of both leaders and followers, and content that will ensure that everyone is working toward a successful conclusion are all requirements for effective leadership.
You may seek to believe that the purpose or shared vision of the volleyball team is winning. However, this is different from ours. The purpose of our team is to build a solid connection which is our means to meet our ends which is to win the championship. We have always been emphasizing that teamwork will make the dream work. Hence, we train, play, and meet to strengthen our relationship with one another – inside and outside the court.
Blanchard, K. & Zigami, P. (1985) taught us the leadership is more than the traits, attributes, skills, and abilities of a person – leadership is a relationship between leaders, followers, and context. Following this concept, I may consider myself as a leader with so much more to improve. First, to be an effective leader, one must understand the needs of every constituent and acts according to these individual needs. These is manifested through our socialization program every beginning of the school year and as we check each other daily especially in our subgroups. These subgroups help establish a system of support where a member of the subgroup can freely open in a safe space her struggles and even success stories to inspire the other members. Second, to be an effective leader, one must understand the context of every situation in its societal, organizational, and cultural perspectives. For instance, for athletes, one of the biggest dilemmas is managing time for studying and playing. This interplay of academics and athletics in our team is addressed through the creation of an academic committee which I initiated. This academic committee monitors the academic performance of every member of the varsity team and support them, especially those who needed it most, by creating review materials, assisting in student’s research and assignments, and monitoring the academic progress of every student in the team. Third, to be an effective leader, one must act by making positive influence with a thoughtful understanding of behavior and skills of a leader, needs and expectations of a follower, and the context of a potential intervention. As what I have narrated a while ago, there was an instance when I have become so passionate in winning that I required the team to train three times a day for six days a week. This led to the injury of one of my teammates. The context of potential intervention was redirected from winning the championship to making sure that we are healthy and ready to play against the teams in our league. However, it can only be achieved by being more sensitive to the needs of my team. As a policy, we would always consult one another if we will be implementing new rules for our teams. This includes consultation with stockholders like the parents, the school administration, and the coaching staff primarily.
The first step in the decision-making process is finding one’s voice and value. Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2017) have taught us that finding one’s voice and affirming shared values are the keys of directing an organization. This means that the leader’s values are the values of the organizations. Consequently, decision-making process requires the use of these values to meet the goal of the team. When I was appointed as the captain of our team, I initially planned the track of our team which I presented to them. I remember telling them that everyone will have to step-up as I will not be a leader who will tolerate mediocrity. They were all startled and terrified at the outset, but I cleared to them that they should approach me should any problems arise – may it be personal, social, emotional and physical. I asked for what they expect of me and I took down notes in order to adjust to their expectations to make both ends meet. This first step has helped me make good decisions for our team such as the creation of an academic committee, initiated a yearly camp to foster more effective communication, and prepared the team well which resulted positively when we won the back-to-back championship. However, there are decisions which I consider having done differently. For instance, I made my teammate cry in the middle of our training session because I warned her that I will be escalating her case to the coaches because of persistent tardiness not knowing that she was going through so much in her personal life. Maybe I could have been more understanding as a team captain. Because of this, I learned to realize the value of open communication. Before coming up to a conclusion and before acting, one must always consult and see the six sides of the cube.
I believe in the importance of communicating one’s vision and values. First, during the time I was elected as the Team Captain, I have laid down my expectations for the team – I instilled excellence and respect as the two core values of the team. These values were not only instilled but I made sure that I myself strives for excellence and fosters respect among my teammates and colleagues. Second, every training session, I would always establish out goal for the session and remind the long-term goals to motivate my teammates. This is important to have a common expectation and movement as a team. Third, I call meetings whenever necessary such as when there is a need to tackle policies and redirection of goals. This will help in having a more centralized team where everyone is involved in the decision-making processes.
I am a leader who fosters collaboration. In an article by Goman (n.d) in Forbes, there are eight ways leaders foster collaboration.
First, rewarding collaboration. Every team practice we would always have certain goal and when we accomplish our goal, we will have additional 30 minutes of play time. For instance, we wanted to create a new play routine. We would work hard to perfect our new routine for us to have additional play time.
Second, communicating transparently. Transparency in communication is the key for mutual understanding since it is in the way information is handled which determines whether it becomes an obstacle to or an enabler of collaboration. I have been transparent in communicating my concerns with my teammates especially when there are issues that are needed to be addressed like punctuality, performance, and academic challenges.
Third, encouraging networks. As a team captain, I am also in charge of communicating with different women’s volleyball team in our place for tune-up games. Through this, our team were not just confined with the learnings from our training sessions and those given by our coaches – we also master learning from other people – their plays, their composure, and other useful techniques.
Fourth, creating alignment around unifying goals. Alignment and unified goals are the foundations of a successful organization. Indeed, in our team, I would always remind them of our goal – every training session, every meeting, and every game so as to establish pacing. Consequently, every beginning of the school year, we try to revise our mission and game plans to align with new adjustments in our role in the team recognizing the dynamics of having new teammates and experiences.
Fifth, increasing innovation through diversity. One of the most creative projects I initiated in our organization is our annual camp. Here, every member of the team pitch in ideas and lead different committees to make sure our camp would be a success. This innovation through diversity encouraged other skills of my teammates be discovered, appreciated, and exposed. For example, one of my teammates then was so great in cooking that she now owns a restaurant in New York City.
Sixth, focusing on the customer. Since there are no customers in volleyball team, the pride of our school is our priority. Focusing on this goal persuaded collaboration on our team since we all would want to give pride to our school. It made us be more excellent individually and as a team.
Seventh, building relationships of trust. Trust is the belief or confidence that one is reliable, with unquestionable integrity, and honest. This is achieved through open communication which I maintained with the team. Should problems arise, I step up to fix it most especially when relationship with one another is affected. There was one time when our team was divided because one of my teammates cannot accept that she will not be in the starting six. I called for a forum and explained the selection process – this includes explaining the reason why some members will not be the starting six. Through he help of our coaches, we were able to maintain the trust of our teammates with one another and with the process we were accomplishing.
Eight, redefining one’s role as a leader from a commanding leader to a collaborative leader. As a team captain, I should be both a commanding and a collaborative leader, but the role must be adjusted according to the need of the team. During the game, most of the time I opt to be a commanding leader because I call the plays, the positions, and the game plan. But during timeouts and pre-game and post-game, I am a collaborative leader who encourages the team especially when our score is down. For instance, my teammate committed multiple simultaneous errors, but she has no substitute player for her position. Her morale sunk. As the team captain, I asked our coaches for a time out and they call for it. In the huddle, I talked to her personally and gave her words of encouragement. After this small talk, she slowly regained her composure and eventually we won the game.
These eight ways motivated my teammates to realize our vision which is building stronger connections as our means to being champion in the inter-school tournaments. These ways to foster collaboration have been effective as we were able to realize our vision where we won back-to-back championship title for our school.
Blanchard, K., & Zigarmi, P. (1985). Leadership and the One Minute Manager. New York:
Goman, C.K. (n.d.). 8 Ways Leaders Foster Collaboration. Retrieved from
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2017). The leadership challenge: How to make extraordinary things happen in organizations (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.