Caitlin Bassett Exclusive: Top 5 Leadership Lessons
Caitlin was appointed captain of Australia's national netball team in 2017.
1. Be myself!
Everyone has different leadership styles, and I wont lie, I was a little nervous when I took the captaincy job. The past two Diamonds captains are two of my good friends, Clare McMeniman and Laura Geitz, who are both fantastic leaders with different styles. I definitely felt the pressure that I had to emulate their behaviours and be and do a million things to show everyone I was worthy of the title of 'captain'. After chatting to them both and asking for advice I realised I was chosen by my team mates to lead because of who I am, and to just be me.
2. Empower others
'What type of leader will you be?' This question was asked a million times when I did media interviews following the captaincy announcement. And it honestly stumped me … 'ahhh, a good one?' I have always been a relaxed and laid back person and am not the type to scream and yell or be intense in team huddles. I would say my leadership style is encouraging of others – I want others in our team to feel empowered to lead. I pride myself on having good relationships with the other girls on the team and take the time to get to know them off court and connect with them as individuals. I don’t pretend to be perfect but instead focus on being genuine, and that is what I continually come back to when the pressure is on – being an open and real leader.
3. Losing sucks even more when you're the captain
The Australian Diamonds has been one of the most successful sporting teams in history and when I was named as captain I wanted that tradition to continue. The depth of talent we have in Australia is incredible and our high performance program is one of the best in the world. In saying that, even the best teams lose and my first and only loss so far was a big one … the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games gold medal match. After going down by one goal to England in the final, I was numb. Not only was I disappointed but I felt that as a leader I had let the team down. Netball is a team sport and it is the role of every player to help the team to win, however I do feel extra responsibility as captain and will always put my hand up to take any blame. Doing media after that loss was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but as a team we stuck tight together. Win together, lose together.
4. You can't do everything
If only there were two of me or an extra few days in a week. Finding balance has always been a challenge for me and taking on the captaincy certainly didn’t ease the problem. Appearances and media requests increase along with emails, meetings and phone hook ups. One of the first things I learned is that it is ok to say no and to delegate to others. I have a fantastic vice captain, Gabi Simpson, who helps me and shares the load. I understand that certain things come with the position of captain – post game press conferences with the coach, discussions with the CEO of Netball Australia - but other things like media and appearances I am more than happy to let the other Diamonds girls do. It is not my job to do everything and our team has many other amazing leaders who step up and help share the load.
Caitlin with Emma Tonegato (Rugby 7s), Mark Knowles (hockey), Robbie Cornthwaite (soccer) and PickStar founder James Begley
5. There is always more to learn
I never thought I would be the captain of the Australian Diamonds. Prior to this opportunity, I had never lead a team in a formal capacity, but that does not mean I am not a good leader. I have had the pleasure of working under some awesome leaders who have all taught me so much. I certainly do not think that I have 'made it' as a leader, or that I am perfect, and I am always looking to be better and to learn. At the Diamonds we work with Ray McLean from Leading Teams from around leadership development. Ray works with a variety of other sporting codes, in particular AFL, and has a wealth of experience and stories. I love meeting other leaders – in both sport or business – and picking their brains. I believe that you can always learn from the experiences of other people and I am excited to challenge myself to see how much I can grow while having the privilege to lead in this role as captain.
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