A lesson in leadership: How the Janssen Leadership Model is helping Neumann student-athletes

Women's lacross huddle

 Neumann University’s Athletic Department and the Institute for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development utilize the Jeff Janssen Team Captains Leadership Manual to assist in the development of NU athletes as reflective, strong leaders by example who hold themselves and their teammates accountable and set a positive tone for collective success. Here, Neumann Senior Koula Gregor, co-captain of the Women’s Lacrosse team, shares her experience with the program. 

Janssen’s Team Captains Leadership Manual has done a lot in the development of the kind of leader that I have become. When I first spoke to Clare Devine, the Coordinator of Campus Programming for the Institute for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development (ISSCD) about the leadership meetings we would be having along with my co-captains, I was skeptical. Wasn’t I already chosen to be a captain for my lacrosse team? Shouldn’t I already understand how to lead my team? Why do I need to go to meetings on how to be a leader, shouldn’t it be in me?

I was wrong.

Each week we reviewed a new chapter out of the Team Captains Leadership Manual. We would sit with our coaches, captains and Clare to discuss the different chapters and go through the exercises within each chapter. We reviewed a lot of different concepts on how to be a successful leader.

Koula Gregor
Koula Gregor on the field for the Neumann Knights.

One of the main tools that stuck out to me was the Commitment Continuum. We discussed each player’s position on the scale and it helped us better understand how to communicate with our teammates. The process gave us a better vision on how to pull those players towards an active commitment to our team goals.

I also enjoyed the Janssen Leadership Model as a whole, which showed us how to lead by example through our actions to uphold commitment, confidence, composure and character, and how to balance vocal leadership between being an encourager and enforcer.

The whole course really helped me learn how to effectively communicate with teammates of different personalities. Taking the time to learn about how to communicate effectively with players on and off the field helped to develop my relationship with my teammates as a leader and taught me a lot about myself as a player. I learned the type of player and leader that I am and what I need to do to improve myself.

I was surprised to learn as much as I did about leadership and how to effectively communicate with players, and I truly did not expect how Janssen’s Team Captains Leadership Manual would affect my communication skills outside of lacrosse. I saw myself referring back to the different learning models in different places such as work and my internship. With my major being Communication and Media Arts, I think that this manual is not only effective for captains, but for anyone in my field who would want to be a leader.

I am grateful that we not only have the Institute for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development, but that Clare and the rest of the department found this manual and implemented it in the growth of the team leaders. Not only did going through this manual help my transition into captaining my first season, but it grew me into a better leader in lacrosse, and outside of the game, in life and my future career.

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