So many teams, coaches, organizations etc are looking for leaders. It seems to be one of the biggest weaknesses in society (much more than just a soccer team problem) yet we, as coaches, frequently get rid of some of our leaders.
Too often, we think of leaders as being the positive role models (some vocal, some simply by action) and while those people are leaders, there is another group of leaders which we frequently try to ignore at best, or try to get rid of all together. These would be the negative leaders.
An example of a “negative leader” is the class clown. A class clown doesn’t just want to have fun but also wants to have other people do what he is doing. A class clown fails if he is ignored so they act out to get attention and to get followers. The class clown is a leader but a leader in the wrong direction.
When a team has a negative leader (and most have at least one) it’s common for the coach to try to isolate the negative leader and if they can’t do that, the coach tries to get rid of this player. So we as coaches get rid of leaders and then complain we don’t have enough of them! We need to do better.
The reason many coaches fail dealing with negative leaders is they try to convert them from a negative leader to a follower. While it’s not impossible to do this, it’s not easy.
It’s much easier to take a negative leader and help them become a positive leader. The reason for this is leaders are leaders and in many cases they lose some of their greatest qualities when you make them a follower.
The key to helping a person make the transition from negative leader to positive leader is figuring out what the negative leader is after and then finding a way to reward them in their pursuit as long as it’s a positive manner.
As an example, if a negative leader acts up mainly during fitness work, try to find out what the problem is. If the problem is they hate fitness...well that could be a problem. On the other hand, it’s not unusual to find that the player feels he is slower than other teammates and doesn’t want to look bad. If that is the case, you can find ways to help overcome this (extra training with a speed coach, different forms of fitness that might not be so obvious in terms of who is fastest and who is slowest etc).
The point is, if you can convert a negative leader to a positive leader, it’s the ultimate in win/wins. You get rid of the negative influence and have another positive influence
Just something to think about