leadLeadership is a fun buzzword thrown around in sports circles.

Everyone is urged to “be a leader,” to exemplify guys like Derek Jeter, Mark Messier or countless others that have made their names becoming leaders on some of the most successful professional sports teams ever.

But how can this be accomplished? There is no hard-and-fast rule book. Some have an innate ability to be a leader. However, there are things you can do to be a leader. Here are three small things that can go a long way.

1. Be An Example, Not a Loudmouth

Often, being a leader is confused with being “vocal” or the loudest player. But you do not have to be a “vocal” type to lead, and often, the best leaders are those that do so by example.

Leadership stems directly from respect. In order to gain the respect of your teammates, you have to earn it. A fast way to do the opposite is to start barking at your teammates, being negative and otherwise unhelpful.

If you want to be a good leader, do the little things to the best of your ability. Encourage your teammates positively. Be the first in line for drills. Show up early and stay late. Work the hardest.

Bringing teammates along is a part of being a leader, but it can only be done from the trenches – not on top of a soapbox. Your words will go farther, and have more gravity, if they are fewer with meaning.

2. Continue Leadership Outside of Sports

Being a leader does not stop in the hallways at school or in the classroom. Be a role model off the field, and work as hard as possible in all of your endeavors. You will be surprised at how far these things can go.

It’s very easy to be “too cool” for anything in school, for fear of putting yourself out there or feeling like a kiss-up.

However, leaders must elicit trust from coaches, teachers and teammates. In order to do that, it must happen everywhere. This is often one of the most overlooked parts of being a leader, and in some ways the most crucial.

So take it to heart. It doesn’t have to be some huge action, or some grand proclamation. Life is full of many little choices that make up who you are. Just make the right ones more often than not, and you’re on your way to leadership.

3. Don’t Take Drills Off

Coaches admire athletes who demonstrate a winning attitude, mental toughness, take charge of workouts and show composure under pressure. These traits will not only make you a better athlete, but they will help you elevate the ability of your teammates as well.

Make it a point to do everything in practice to the best of your ability. Even the mundane, everyday things like stretching or warm-ups.

Leaders do what others can’t or won’t. And it’s not easy. But, being someone that your peers can look at for motivation can go a long way.