In our most recent Student-Athlete Leadership Team meeting, a student asked a question that had the rest of the group nodding in agreement and adding their two-cents worth to the conversation.
“How do I get my teammates to listen to me”?
There are many variations to this question, but they all come down to student-athletes wanting to influence their teammates in some way. John Maxwell, the #1 leadership expert in the world, says that “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Sometimes we look at our team and see the negatives. We want everyone to respect us and follow us. This may not always be possible. Don’t worry about everyone. Worry about those that you can influence.
Any player on a team probably has 2 or 3 close friends on that team. Those are the people that you should focus on leading and influencing. If they are not willing to follow you and do the positive things that you are doing, then you need to analyze why not? There are only two reasons a close friend will not follow you: (1) they don’t respect you; (2) you have the wrong close friends. Let me explain…
Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less. However the absolute first person you influence is yourself. You should be doing the right things. Your character should be strong. If a friend doesn’t respect you enough to follow your example or words, then you need to make yourself more respectable. Be a person worthy of having followers.
If you are worthy of respect, are walking the walk and talking the talk, but your close friends still aren’t willing to follow your lead, then you need to analyze who your “close” friends are. If your character is strong and you have the right personality, then why wouldn’t your friend want to follow your lead? Be careful of these people. There are two types of people in your life: those that make you better and those that don’t.
If you are leading yourself correctly and have the right people around you, then focus on influencing them. What you’ll find is that there will now be 3, 4 or 5 people that are influenced in the right way and are doing what is needed for your team to experience success.
Now imagine if one of those friends you influenced has a close friend that you don’t have a strong connection with? You can’t influence that other person but your friend can. You helped influence your friend so indirectly you have helped influence this other person.
To influence someone, you must have a strong connection. You can’t reach everyone but you can lead yourself first and then influence those that you have a good relationship with. Through your good influence to a few, that can possibly multiply to the whole team.
Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Don’t worry about the teammates that you don’t have a strong connection with. Worry about leading yourself and influencing those nearest to you.