There are 4 concepts that should be paid particular attention to for coaches and athletes:
1. The Process
A key ingredient in leadership is understanding the process involved, especially as it relates to your team. At the minor hockey league level the majority of the process should revolve around player development as opposed to records and championships. Therefore your leadership core should understand your mission and vision and carry out that process. A big part of the leadership process involves forward thinking -especially problem solving. More and more we are seeing a team's leadership core handling a some issues within the room as many coaching staff's are maintaining the room is for the players and therefore the leadership core needs to maintain that aspect. Steve Yzerman is a great example as an individual who demonstrated commitment to the process. Yzerman established his game as a two player, something he was not known for when he entered the league and players such as Datsyuk and Zetterberg have followed suit which helps build the Red Wings’ environment.
Trust is a crucial aspect in your leadership and it is three fold. Coaches have to trust their leadership core, the leadership core must trust their coaching staff and players must trust their leadership core. In all cases the leadership core must be trusted to carry the message on behalf of both parties. A key aspect in trust is integrity. Integrity means to be candid and sincere with peers and superiors. Lastly trust involves putting others ( including your teammates) ahead of yourself. Shane Doan comes to mind when we speak of trust and what it entails.
Your leadership core should have a strong communication link to not only your coaching staff but also your players. Part of this communication is the ability to help and motivate teammates. Although there is a spot for leading by example there must be part of your core that will lead and say something when something needs tho be said. It is also important to note that a strong leadership core will be leaned upon by teammates for help and advice. Of course the likes of Scott Stevens or Mark Messier are great examples of communication.
4. Emotional Stability
Your leadership core will also stand out especially in pressure situations. If you are trying to identify your leadership core in training camp put some pressure on your athletes, maybe a timed team building event. Usually your leaders will stand out in this pressure and help others through the process. Emotional stability involves staying focused on the process in times of adversity. Sometimes players need to go through these pressure situations before they gain valuable insight. Jonathan Toews comes to mind when we discuss emotional stability.
Keep in mind not one person in your leadership core may exhibit all these aspects but you can use many athletes in your leadership core that will carry these aspects and not all have to wear a letter. As a coach or athlete you need to nurture these aspects in order to create an effective environment.