Serving, Sharing, Caring and Female Youth Sports


Change is a natural part of life. For some it can be difficult to navigate change, but when facilitated effectively it can lead to powerful outcomes. When considering how to lead without authority, one must think about how to apply new techniques to fit the needs of today’s team members. When interacting with teams, Ferrazzi (2020) suggests leading by serving, sharing, and caring. Leading with a heart of service is the first step in preparing to co-elevate. From this standpoint, leaders should consider what they can do or what they have to offer that would improve the work. The key is to focus on how the other members of the team will be improved through the new mission. Second, sharing through genuine conversation helps to humanize change efforts. This is a perfect time to practice active listening skills. Sending and receiving accurate messages creates connections and builds trust (Ferrazzi, 2020). Lastly caring is demonstrated not only by verbalizing the sentiment, but by showing it in a way that members will experience it. It is helpful to be straightforward and honest when expressing care. The transparent nature will enable “two-way candid feedback” (Ferrazzi, 2020, p. 76). These conversations enable discussions about goals, organization mission, and performance. This essay offers suggestions as to how service, sharing and caring can be used to enhance leadership development in female youth athletes.

So What?

Each year millions of children participate in youth sports. Involvement in sports has been linked to increased health benefits, social development, and heathier communities. Research also suggests that sports can have a strong impact on leadership development. Recent studies have emphasized the importance sports participation has on long term female leadership. However, in order for this to happen continued engagement in the sport must be a consideration. Perhaps the retention of female athletes (beyond high school) could be improved through the implementation of the serving, sharing, and caring techniques. Athletes must first know that the coach is available to help on and off the field. Sharing the long-term effects sports had on their leadership development and career opportunities would help with goal setting and visioning a future beyond their time as an athlete. Caring offers ways to connect deeper with athletes such that they can learn from feedback and work on areas of opportunity.

Now What

Over the past month, I’ve had several conversations with a coach for a new youth fastpitch softball team. Many of the players are new to travel softball which differs greatly from recreational leagues. The team is working on their ability to operate as a new unit, but they have a way to go. Conversations with the coach indicate that she has exhibited the tenants of serving and caring, but sharing seems to be the missing link. At the beginning of the season, she established rapport by asking players to identify why they enjoyed playing softball and what they hoped to gain from being on the team. As a way to help them meet their goals, she worked with the players to set individual and team goals. She has demonstrated care through open conversations which includes feedback, areas of growth and strengths. Despite these efforts, the coach is concerned that there is something missing. Using Ferrazzi’s (2020) suggestions, sharing would be a powerful next step to connect their desires to her experiences. The journey didn’t start at the top and the players need to know that. Displaying such vulnerabilities is likely to build trust and bring the team closer so they understand that development is a natural part of the game and that she truly has been where they are.



Ferrazzi, K. (2020). Leading without authority: How the new power of co-elevation can break down silos, transform teams, and reinvent collaboration. Currency.

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