The best teams on the planet, athletic and corporate alike, are player-led teams. On these teams, it is the players or team members who engage in many of the leadership functions normally reserved for the team leader. Team leaders, by necessity, articulate the values, set the standards, create strategy, and measure results. On player-led teams, it is the players or team members who maintain the values and standards and hold each other accountable to the highest effort and execution.
When allowed to lead on teams with strong values, vision, and purpose, players correct each other, push each other, and support each other. Players, not the team leader, require everyone to be prepared and committed to execute at the highest level.
Because they lead amongst peers, players are equipped with tactics that team leaders would have a difficult time employing to similar effect (ex. good-natured teasing and radically candid feedback). Team members can challenge one another personally in ways a team leader cannot.
The deep commitment to the team and to each other that occurs on player-led teams allows the players to rally around those who struggle, on and off the field. In fact, player-led teams are the very definition of a group of people who will never let each other down.
Leaders of player-led teams have to be unusually self-confident and secure in order to share leadership with every member of the team. They are not threatened by others who play the role of leader as well or better than they do because they know the team matters more. Forging a team of leaders requires the team leader to set the foundation for team success — and then to get out of the way. By encouraging everyone on the team to be a leader, the team leader exemplifies best what leadership is really all about.