Webster's Dictionary describes a leader as a first or principal performer of a group. Somebody who has a commanding authority or influence for whoever they represent. Whether it be a party, or a team, or even a country.
But what is the best example of a leader?
Is it somebody who leads by example?
Somebody who takes charge of a situation?
Or is it somebody who brings progress?
Each of these examples can be used in all aspects of life, but how many can be used in sports?
When we think of leaders in sports, most of us think of a strong individual who motivates his team not only with words, but by example as well. Leadership is measured by success, after all. I mean, if somebody is leading but not producing, then how good of a leader can they really be?
There has to be progress. There has to be some sense of accomplishment after a certain amount of time. If you give a person the opportunity to lead a team and the team under-performs, then the leader is the one who pays for that failure.
I know this because I am a sports fan. All of us here on B/R are sports fans—young and old—and we all have taken somebody's leadership into doubt whether it be in sports or real life.
We can't help it. It's our nature, whether we are right or wrong. We always have to question someone's leadership whether it be on the ice, field, or court.
But it's OK, because with leadership comes character. Character comes from being in all situations good and bad, and because they have been in these situations, they're able to cope more effectively with whats going on around them and make smarter decisions.
The problem with this is some people in sports don't get the chance to use what they learned from their mistakes. Instead, they are passed on for someone else while they are left waiting for that second chance.
But out of all of this, one thing best prepares a person to become a leader, and that is confidence.
When a person has confidence, they have the ability to show their team they can do anything. That they can step out on that field and throw that great touchdown or make that amazing play to change the course of the game.
That is what makes a leader—performing in the clutch.
Great leaders have the ability to bring out the best in people and those around them better.
Brett Favre is the best example of that. Right now he is playing for a team that without him, would be 7-9 AT BEST.
But with Favre playing, he has the Jets in playoff contention and has the entire team making plays on both sides of the ball.
Another example is Mats Sundin when he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He always played with average players and never had another superstar to play with, but instead of complaining, he took what he had and he made them better.
That is what a leader does. He makes people better while leading by example, and that example is playing with class, heart, and a determination that inspires people to rise up and better themselves, both as a player, and as a human being.