Good story in one of the Bay Area papers this week about Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand, who is "the leader" of the team according to teammates.
Six lessons from the article:
1. Players recognize other players who've paid the price: "Nobody in this game deserves respect," Rowand said. "You have to earn it." Said one of Rowand's teammates: "He talks the talk, but then he does it on the field." Rowand arrived early to training camp and helped establish the clubhouse rules for the season. Said Rowand: "I wouldn't do or say anything that I wouldn't do to myself," he said. "I'm not better than anybody else in this clubhouse. I don't think anybody else puts himself on a pedestal. We're all equals."
2. By nature of their experience, veterans should lead: "All the veterans lead. Either you're a vocal leader or you lead by example or you do a little bit of both. At some point in the season, you need everybody to step up and pull his own weight. It's up to the older guys on the team to help the younger guys out, to mentor, to police, to be the guys who are responsible for bringing everyone together for one common goal, to win ballgames together as a unit."
3. Leaders aren't necessarily the most popular players on the team: "I think being a leader, you've got to not be afraid to call people out, not be afraid to ruffle some feathers," said Giants pitcher Jack Taschner. "A good leader isn't somebody whom everybody likes, but somebody everyone respects. Everybody does like Rowand because he's got a good personality and he will talk to you. But he's not a guy who's going to beat around the bush. If he doesn't like something, he's going to speak his mind."
4. Coaches rely on players who can "lead from within": "On every club, you need guys to take on that role because we're the ones spending the majority of the time with each other. It's not the manager's job to baby-sit."
5. With leadership, comes responsibility: "Barry [Bonds] just didn't do it very well," according to one of Bonds' former teammates. "It was his clubhouse, but he didn't want that role. He wanted the title. He wanted it to be his clubhouse, but he didn't want to do the team-building stuff, so we kind of worked around that. We didn't have one leader."
6. The ability to manage strong emotions is important for a leader: "Rowand said he tried to maintain a consistent personality. Panic and anger are not good examples to set for someone who views himself as a leader."