There is an emerging legitimisation and recognition of a previously informal but important leadership role in sports teams. The role of peer leader has now been recognised as important to the success of a team.
Peer leadership is defined as that leadership provided by team members and not by the coach or other non-members of the team. When a team loses a game, you may hear a coach make the following comments:
- We did not have the mental ability to win
- There was no team unity, and nobody stood up to lead
- There just seemed to be a lack of leadership and accountability
The structure of a leadership on-field program is based on influence and trust and set out are some leadership quality behaviours.
- Congratulating players who perform well
- Encouraging team members particularly during difficult situations
- Giving direction that improves play
- Conferring and talking to players on specific issues
- Leading by example through specific action on the field
In organisations especially in business or government, key leadership behaviours have been identified over many years and people have had their performance appraised from a relationship point of view. In sport, on-field leadership is not exclusive to the Captain/Vice Captain or senior members but every player must demonstrate peer leadership for their team and be accountable for their performance.
The use and leverage of peer leadership to improve team performance through the development of a better team culture is a major source of advantage in team sport competitions.