Have you ever lay on a psychologist’s red couch? I did to find some answers to questions that are popping up in my head every time I watch football or basketball or sit in a meeting with my experienced bosses at work.

I have one favorite moment in all the big games and meetings, which I call the “Captain’s moment”: The leader makes his or her mark, influences the game and unlocks the last percentage points of the team’s capabilities.

I’m still quite young, but with dreams and goals for my career in the head, I consulted sports psychologist Prof. Dr. Dr. Markus Raab (these titles already reveal that he is a genius in his scene) to dive into the psyche of leaders, their traits and to find out if young guns like me can already be leaders.

Check out the interview, learn some lessons and train to become a next-gen leader!

Sport psychologist Markus Raab knows what it takes to become a great leader.

What character traits does a strong leader need?

Leadership is more than just having a strong character; it’s about your performance and your behavior as well. Your team has to acknowledge you as its leader. That can’t just be created by putting a title in your signature or by wearing the captain’s armband on the field. You have to earn people’s respect by performing; some say you have to be a visionary, who sets goals and meets them yourself. You have to know the strengths and weaknesses of every team member and act accordingly to get the most out of every personality.

Can teams function without a leader?

A leader is essential in a performance-based environment. We have to make decisions under time pressure and stress. There is simply no time to discuss each and every decision. This is the main objective of leadership: decision making.

There are some areas in which it is essential that everyone is involved, for example details of a game plan but there are other areas where the whole team cannot be involved; as everybody wants to play, there is just no point in discussing the line-up with all of your players – that’s the same in business.

Experience can help in developing a leader's mindset - but it's not an essential prerequisite, says Raab.

Is there a correlation between age and leadership status and can a young person be a leader?

Yes and yes. So good news for all the youngsters out there (laughs).

According to Leadership Personality Research, there are different leader types; the “Wild Youngsters”, dynamic, up-to-date, easygoing and the “Gray Eminences”, experienced, successful, conservative. Their leadership styles and how they are perceived are completely different. But both types can be successful leaders.

What can we learn from leaders in sports?

Professional athletes make important decisions under a lot of pressure and often with very little time. They have a public presence and take responsibility for a group and an extremely ambitious set of targets (winning titles, qualifying for a World Cup, etc.). That requires the ability and the trait to turn high motivation and outstanding performance into success.

Whoever can implement this athlete’s behavior in his business life is a top performer and has a big chance to become a very successful leader.

Ok so, how do I become a leader, and don’t hold back? Any tips from the sports world?

There’s research that 10,000 training hours within 10 years turns you into an expert in any field. My tip: Start early with your leadership training and put in a lot of training hours. Not just random learning, but training that is highly demanding and with high-quality feedback from a real expert.

Apply this approach to your career; look for an outstanding mentor, who is willing to give you high quality feedback and then work A LOT, because it is training hours that will define your performance at the end of the day.


Please take note of the commenting guidelines.
You will receive an email to approve your comment.
Please take note of the commenting guidelines.
You will receive an email to approve your comment.

Thanks for your comment

You will receive an email to approve your comment. It will only appear after your confirmation.


Oh no! An unexpected error occurred.

Try again
by Elly Kapyela 08.09.2016
An amazing article, this really ENERGIZING and FACTUAL, cause I am Energized as a Young leader. Though I wonder how in this entrepreneurial world one can get an outstanding mentor whom can give High Quality Feedback..?! Especially when you're self employed.
Thank you.
Nina Weihrauch
Nina Weihrauch | Editor Elly Kapyela 20.09.2016
Hi Elly,

thanks for your comment. Happy to hear that you enjoyed reading this.
Even if you're self-employed you can find a mentor. Maybe your old coach or a former university prof.?! Find someone who is super experienced in an area that it important to you and who can give good feedback.

Keep us updated!