Ultimate Frisbee: Identifying My Management Style

The Topic

Today is easily one of the hottest summer days I’ve experienced during the time I’ve lived in Central Indiana. By luck alone my southern upbringing makes such an occurrence less of a shock to my system, but no less bearable. The weather at the Indianapolis 500’s 100th year anniversary- record breaking by most accounts- wasn’t even this sweltering! Why am I complaining? I’ve been thrust into an exciting leadership position and must lead troops through to victory under these oppressive conditions.

Overenthusiastic frisbee player laying out for a disc.

This+ Sweltering Heat

UIndy Ultimate Frisbee Club, established in the Spring of 2011, is a competitive college club from the University of Indianapolis. We had a successful Spring and decided to take our energy into the Summer League realm. Unfortunately, our team captain had an extensive prior commitment and couldn’t make the first part of Summer season. I’ve been placed as captain for the sake of organization in his place, and it is a different ballgame.

In this post I’d like to discuss how I’ve recently discovered a few unique things about my own personal management style, how it differs from that of convention, and what I consider to be the positives and negatives of each. This unique opportunity has allowed me to rethink and restructure how to approach management in a way that is both true to who I am personally and what is most effective for the team I’m leading.

The Points

1. The Tyrant vs. The Pushover

From my experience and education in group communication and psychology, I have learned one crucial thing: Finding the right level of leadership and commitment from anyone in a group setting is a daunting task. I’m still in the process of this delicate balancing act.

In most organic instances, a group leader will appear- most often in an aggressive or persuasive fashion- and seek to mediate rather tyrannically. On the other hand, in synthetic group structures- developed by a more powerful source (i.e. a CEO)- chosen leaders may fall prey to their subordinates and secede authority, falling into the Pushover category.

Guy in a yellow shirt that reads "I'm a Pushover"

Caution: Avoid Being Pushed Over

So, in this predetermined organizational structure, I’m taking the most balanced approach I can think of to most successfully manage. First, I’ve identified potential risks, and have secured explicit orders from my “upper management” on how to lead any way-weary individuals.  Then, I devoted myself to a plan of action, making my bottom-line goal to let everyone have a chance to play during each game.

Any internal conflicts will be voted on democratically, but in extreme instances I’ve reserved the right to make executive decisions. Lastly, I’ve let my team know that I will show no lenience on issues that have already been agreed upon (i.e. You need to have your money ready for league sign-ups or we can’t let you play.)

Hopefully this balance will prove effective and- in tandem with my generally agreeable attitude and charisma- will lead us to victory.

2. Organizational Overload vs. Carelessness

Fortunately for me, in our “trial run” for creating UIndy Ultimate, the club founders were tasked with developing a constitution and management positions for all things internal. It is upon these foundations that I developed the aforementioned strategy for leadership, and I’ve added a bit of my own personal organizational style into the mix.

The question then arises: How much is too much when building on what is already in place? And is it acceptable to forgo the established guidelines if doing so is more in line with your effective managing?

I made the conscious decision here to once again strive for a balance. In addition to the expected norms, I’ve sent out a few update emails and notices explaining what I expect out of the team and how we will function. It is a fickle thing, deciding how much you need to devise the workings of a group without over-burdening them.

Without scheduling out every aspect of the team’s progression, but while maintaining a organized standardization of expectation, I think I’ve come close to culturing a positive, well functioning team mentality.

3. Communication: Inundation vs. Laissez-faire

Once again, I find myself asking “How much is too much?” Interestingly, the best way to communicate to the UIndy Ultimate team is through a system of mass texts. Call us old-school and less than professional, but it gets the job done. However, in our text-obsessed world, where does the line blur from information updates to inundating conversational banter?

Along the lines of email, I have found it to be an effective way to lay out information in a very structured and professional manner, but in this I feel I’m not offering enough information, and leaving my team to their own unguided devices. It’s hard enough to lead people in person, let alone through impersonal updates.

My solution: Try and release all necessary information on both platforms, respond immediately to inquiry, and leave it to digest in the minds of my team. It isn’t perfect by any stretch, but putting it all out there, being transparent and open for communication on my front seems like the most effective alternative. We’ll see if it has worked.

The Conclusion

The #1 lesson in all of this reflection is that leadership is an immensely sensitive and delicate balancing act, but altogether possible.

By taking the time to identify how my personality corresponded to my effective leadership, I’ve developed a rough but effective and personally satisfying way to lead my Ultimate frisbee team through this Summer season. By identifying and accounting for potential risks, organizing but not over analyzing our efforts, and maintaining a 2 way system of communication, I hope to have put us on the path to victory.

UIndy Ultimate Logo

Go Aces!

No leader is perfect, and no group being led is guaranteed to be manageable, but I firmly believe if one devotes the time to planning out how they will lead, nothing but success can be the result. I hope you all enjoyed this post, let me know all about your management styles in the comments below!

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”- John F. Kennedy



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