Being the captain of Team USA’s women’s soccer team is similar to my role as co-captain of the Rampone family. I try to do the same in both positions and each have their share of challenges and rewards.
I’ve learned that to lead, I am also required to juggle, observe, listen and plan.My tips aren’t rocket science and I didn’t wake up one morning with all of the answers. Rather, I pay attention and make the most out of unique circumstances that come my way.
I don’t often impart advice, but these four tips have served me well:
Lead by example
Leadership is rooted in having integrity and following the golden rule of treating others fairly and with honesty. If my teammates see me lose it over a missed play or my daughters watch me eat bad food and sit around all day, those images resonate and pave the way for bad habits to form. I lead by example — I eat healthy and exercise so I have energy and immune strength. I occasionally make mistakes like everyone else, but as a team leader, I attempt to use those errors and show my teammates/children how you can create an opportunity by learning from the experience.
Approach with thought
Knowing how to read people is a simple tool that I use to gauge a mood. It’s super important to be mindful of others and know what kind of place they are in mentally. Good? Bad? Unreadable? The answer changes how I approach a situation and affects my timing and delivery. Pay attention to details and body language — both tell a story that is sometimes more powerful than words.
Talk to, not down
Be it in my physical posture or the tone of my voice, I have found many benefits to being eye-level and even-keeled when having a conversation. Both adults and children are much more receptive to a message when it is delivered in a calm and direct manner versus an angry and abrasive tone. To lead is also to listen, so remember that talking goes both ways.
Get over it!
On any given day, in any given moment, I am juggling at least 25 things on my to-do list. I have very little downtime, which means I address situations as they arise rather than letting things or emotions linger. By addressing in real time, I am able to move onwards, upwards and onto the next thing. I simply do not have time for drama, and, honestly, I don’t want my daughters to, either.
I consider myself a leader because I am practical and sincere. I pay attention both at home and on the field. I focus on being present in each moment. I’m trustworthy. I care. None of it is easy; being a leader requires energy, patience and practice. But what I’m able to accomplish with this skill set is incredibly rewarding.
Christie Rampone is a four-time Olympic medalist (three consecutive golds), four-time FIFA World Cup finalist, U.S. National Soccer Team captain, team captain of FC Blue Sky club team, and mother to two young girls.