Every athletic program has an influx of student-athletes every year while simultaneously our economy gets an influx of our graduating student-athletes every single year. When these student-athletes are in our care for 4 maybe 5 years what have they learned by the time they leave?

The businesses who are hiring like to look at student-athletes because the general hope is that they understand best how to work on a team, how to deal with disruptions and frustrations and how important team atmosphere is to success. But do our average athlete truly know these things?

In these days the world of work (economy) are looking for core competencies in their hires. They’re looking for the foundation of great leadership in their applicants. Job duties are important but leadership ability is priceless.

Kathy Cavallo, Psy.D. (an organizational psychologist known for the leadership study she did with Johnson & Johnson) & Daniel Goleman (a world-known science journalist and recognized expert on Emotional Intelligence) both share the findings that leadership excellence in the workplace is not a function of IQ but EQ (emotional intelligence).

Why do I mention this?

Because our student-athletes in our programs can get a jump on purposefully learning the core competencies of leadership while in our athletic programs without the title of “leader”. Here’s what both Kathy and Daniel found:

There are at least four components across the board in any field that is common to high leadership performance.

  1. Self Awareness – the ability to recognize your emotions, moods, values and personality and to know why you’ve held to them and their effect on others. This ability is seen in a person who gives realistic self-assessments. One can only do that if they are able to observe their inner world.
  2. Self-Management – the ability to control your impulses and direct your attention and behavior for the benefit of a stated or unspoken purpose. This ability reveals a person who can handle unexpected changes, manage their emotions, stay in the present and problem solve step by step. Adaptability. Mental Strength. Mental Toughness.
  3. Empathy (Social Awareness) – the ability to understand the emotional make-up and/or needs based on the emotions of other people (including programs and organizations). This ability is seen best within conversations when a person is consistently asking questions to get a better grasp of who someone else is and their take on things. Afterwards that person shifts the way they behave towards that person because of what they found out.
  4. Social Skills (Relationship Management) – the ability to find common ground and build quick rapport with other people. The person with this ability knows how to persuade, develop and influence others, knows how to navigate through conflict and knows how to inspire team collaboration.

A winning season is what all athletic programs should want but lets be honest, the Wins and Losses column is for the coaches career but gaining these competencies before our student-athletes graduate are for their career.

What program do you have set up within your athletic program that specifically pinpoints the purposeful development of these core competencies? Nothing is developed without a catalyst and just putting a bunch of people together on a team is not the catalyst to develop these skills. Whatcha got??! #PushForward

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