Dwayne Haskins NFL Combine

Leadership in Athletics: Emergent Leadership and the Combine

The world of sports had their eyes on the NFL scouting combine that took place March 1–4 in Indianapolis, where the top college football players were invited to showcase their talent for professional teams. These players were hoping to improve their draft position. There is lot at stake to include millions of dollars for athletes and the pro teams alike.

One of the things teams were looking for is emergent leadership, which occurs when other athletes perceive someone as the most influential on the team. NFL team leaders know that leadership is a difference maker, and those team leaders are looking for athletic ability as well as emergent leadership.

So how does one measure the leadership of these athletes?

The teams assess each athlete’s leadership through interviews, the Wonderlic test and psychological evaluations. The Wonderlic test determines the athlete’s capacity to think, learn, solve problems and follow instructions. The psychological evaluations are used to learn about the athlete’s personality.

The most important assessment comes from the interviews. Teams interview the athletes to get a feel for their leadership ability and often ask behavioral-based questions to learn about the potential of the athlete to be an emergent leader. Teams also interview the athlete’s former coaches and teammates to learn more about their specific leadership ability. This part is critical.

Some teams place a higher emphasis on leadership than others. Several teams are actively working to improve the process of assessing an athlete’s leadership ability. Leadership is what separates certain athletes from others, and it is exciting to see how the process for leadership assessment will improve in the near future.

Photo Credit: Maize & Blue Nation

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