Leadership in Athletics: Peer Accountability

Team captains are asked to do a lot, but there may be nothing more difficult than being asked to hold their peers accountable.

And there may be nothing more important. As the former Detroit Piston Joe Dumars said, "On good teams, coaches hold players accountable; on great teams, players hold players accountable."

Peer-to-peer accountability can only be effective when the teammates trust each other. Trust is a popular subject in leadership research and literature. Although it varies, there are four consistent components of trust:

  • Character – involves consistently doing the right things for the right reasons. It means having good judgement and putting the team first.
  • Competence –involves constant improvement and being good at your craft. You need to be reliable in delivering results.
  • Connection – involves building relationships with your teammates and showing you care about them. You have to be willing to put someone else’s needs before your own.
  • Commitment – involves showing your teammates that you have the grit and perseverance necessary to overcome obstacles and fight through to the end. Your team needs to know that you will be there for them in the good times and bad.

Doug Collins, an NBA analyst, was on to something when he said; When your teammate looks you in the eye and holds you accountable, that’s the greatest kind of leadership there is.”

The leadership Collins is talking about is based on trust. This goes beyond sports. If you want to hold your peers accountable, build trust first.

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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.