women's soccer team

Captain vs. Coach

Team Development

The term coach is often used to summarize the leadership traits we should exhibit when we lead a team. The coach provides the vision, creates the next steps or plays, and mentors all those under her.  At the collegiate or professional level, the coaching staff will strategize while the team is resting.  But during the game it is the coach and staff who is on the sidelines.

There is another leader that has a crucial component to the success of the team and that person is the team captain. I like this analogy because the team captain not only leads but gets dirty with the team. They are out there on the field taking the hits like anyone else.  Team captains are responsible for executing the vision of the coach while playing their role in the game. The successful team captain is selected and recognized by their peers as a leader.  That is, it is both an honorary position as well as a position with added responsibilities.

Their responsibilities may include:

  • Strategy – the coach will work with captains on the strategy to be executed
  • Teamwork – they are the voice in the middle of the intense action that the team will hear
  • Interacting with officials – they assist with the application and interpretation of the rules for the team.
  • Lead teacher/instructor – most often a gifted performer on the field in their position, they assist other players to achieve their potential

Captains are necessary for execution. The adaptive leader will know how to be both coach and captain to lead their teams to success.  If you are leading a large organization then you need to cultivate team captains throughout your organization to ensure it’s success.