I'm Team Captain!

Hey guys I am From TEMPEST team 240! We were going over leadership roles and I was chosen for team captain! I am a soon to be 10th grader and don’t have much experience. Do you guys have any tips and pointers that would help me? Thanks :slight_smile:

I have never been captain but some of the good things i see from captains are listed below:

Don’t be cocky
Get team inspired and rallied up
Develop intensives for team members to go above and beyond
Have fun while doing it

…That’s all I can come up with for now. I’ll reply again if I come up with more stuff

Thanks! I appreciate it. :slight_smile:

Oops… I meant incentives. I’m guessing you figured that out… :wink:

Yeah I knew what you were saying. :yikes:

Just try and be someone that people can talk to. This year I felt like I could tell our captain anything and he would try his best to help.

Congrats on your position!

From the perspective of a freshman, I think it’s especially important that you communicate with your team very well. Proper communication within a team is a large part of what makes it so successful. :slight_smile:

I can’t emphasize this tip enough!

Make sure everyone has a way to meaningfully contribute to the team and feels included. This goes especially for new team members, since their first year will determine if they want to stay on the team or not.

You don’t have to know how to do everything, but you need to have an officer team you can work well with to cover all the bases. Work work this officer group to set an agenda for every meeting, and lead the team to work toward it.

You will run the team. There will be a lot of things you’ll want to get done. Delegate work effectively, so you aren’t overburdened. Don’t delegate too much, do no less than your fair share of work. In the vein of delegating, make sure the load is fairly distributed.

If you have any questions or problems to face, feel free to ask here or PM me. Being a leader isn’t easy, but being conscientious enough to ask for advice here is a sign that you’ll do a great job :slight_smile:

As a past captain:
I was constantly thanked and led our team to the best season yet, from being dead last to alliance captains the next year.

Being a captain for me was about being someone everyone WANTED to be led by.
-Find the perfect balance between being the leader, friend, teacher, and teamate.
-find an area of the team they lack in and work all season on inproving it. I realized we relyed on adults to much so when our lead techical mentor left, 2013 was our worst season. When i became captain in 2014 I made huge changes. Our robot for the first time was wired, CADed, and programmed almost 100% by students, just to name a few areas. It was our best robot to date and with the most student involvment.
-create support for yourself. When I was captain, i created subgroups (we called squads) for each area (programming, CAD, mechanical, Nonengineering) with a leader for each squad. It was amazing that i could trust each squad leader to monitor each project, report to me on progress, teach everyone in the group their skill, and come to me for help.
-choose your support team/subgroup leaders by who can you trust to do a good job but not by who are you friends with
-remember its just captain of a robotics team and your still a student. Dont be afraid to ask for help from others and adults.

I could list a million other things but the best advise is try something crazy and dont be afraid to ask for help.

Former Captain of the Robodawgs, current coach of several teams.

Trust your kids. Listen to them. Everyone has valid ideas.
Deligate. Dont try and superman it you will burn yourself out.
Write down plans for the next day. If you are the only thing people go to for what happens next and you are sick…nothing gets done.
Dont be afraid to ask questions. Just becuase you are in charge doesnt always mean you know everything. If you tell your group to do something and they say no, ask why. You may not understand how something works and be assuming things wrong about it.

PM me if you have more, or worries mid season or anything at all! I would be more than happy to help.


I’ve seen many different characters serve as team captains. Here are some principles I would consider important:

  1. Responsibility - take responsibility for tasks that you are assigned
  2. Communication - communicate, communicate, communicate. Make sure what was said is what was heard.
  3. Planning - a little planning goes a long way, even if you don’t follow the plan
  4. Representation - as team captain, take concerns that the other students have and bring them up with the lead mentor
  5. Improvement - take the time to learn what your team does well and what it does not and offer suggestions to the lead mentor
  6. Fun - don’t forget to have it!

Note: many teams are led by the lead mentor. You will have a set set of responsibilities, understand these and perform the duties you agreed to. You may or may not be responsible for running the team.

Former Captain of Robolions 3397 here, now an alumni. Congrats on being elected Captain, I will share what I can with you.

I will start off with what I feel is the most important part of being a Captain, respect.
Your teammates have elected you Captain, so that probably means they already have some form of respect for you. Having the respect of the people you are leading is the most important part, in my experience, of being a leader. Keeping respect is not always easy, nor does it always make you the most popular person on the team. To start off, it is important you keep this picture in mind as you are a Captain.

(Sorry about bad formatting here, if someone can teach me how to create one of those spoiler boxes I will hide the image so it does not take up as much space.)

Be a Leader, not a boss. Just because you can tell people what to do does not mean you are exempt from the work.

Sometimes you have to make an unpopular decision, sometimes you have to break bad news, sometimes you have to give someone a job that they do not want to do. Sure, these things might make you a bit less popular at the time, but they need to be done. Don’t shy away from making unpopular decisions, just because you want to be loved by your team.
This sounds harsh, but is not quite as bad as it sounds. This is a high school robotics team, and not an army or such, so hopefully nothing too crazy or controversial should come up :stuck_out_tongue: .

Also, as a team captain, you have a much bigger time commitment to the program than the rest of the team. Inside robotics, you still have to keep track of all the building, programming, chairman’s work, etc, but at home you often need to spend late nights working with various team members on various projects. (Examples of this would be when the Chairman’s people want your advice on the essay, or the build team needs you to stay up to review the CAD they are working on.)

As others have covered, communication is important, so I will not go too much into detail on that. All I have to say is that you are often the median for communicating between the different sub teams, or the youth/adults.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I assume this is not an issue though, as you did post this thread. Just remember that mentors will often be able to help give you guidance on decisions.

I learned while being a scout lead that if you’re dedicated to what you do, listen to others, and actually care about the people you lead, you’ll usually gain respect. (although having a co-lead that is a little more forceful was nice too :P)

Be a role model and have fun and everything should turn out nicely. Was there someone on the team you looked up to before? You can try being like them.

Some stuff I learned while in leadership positions on my team (not captain, but drive coach and mechanical lead):

  • Lead from the front: The only way to get respect is by working harder than anyone else and being the best you can be. You should not appear to be a manager (although that’s your main role), but as someone who works on stuff just like any other member.
  • Planning is essential: Always have information about timeline and how long stuff takes at the top of your mind. You should know how long it will take to mill the drivetrain, how long is needed to assemble it, when the Vex Pro order is coming in, when it will be ready to be wired, how long it will take to be wired, and how long after that it will be driving. A lot of my role as leader was making sure that we did something today that we will regret not having done in three weeks if we don’t do it now.
  • Massage egos: You will meet some people in FRC that are hard to work with, and it is your unfortunate job as manager to work with them. Let other people take credit for work they didn’t do, and let them think that they’re making decisions they’re not really making. It may be hard to see this, but mentors and important members of the team will know that is was really you behind the team’s successes. If people think they’re in control, they’ll generally be a lot happier than if they’re “taking orders” from you.
  • Unemployment is bad: A lot of your job will be giving other people jobs to do. Make sure you have a (mental) list of things that need to be done, and match them up with people that can do them when they don’t have anything else to do. Just because you can do something better than someone doesn’t mean you should be doing it. On the other hand, try to give people jobs that they can actually handle. You shouldn’t give off the impression of ordering them around either.
  • Be cool: If the kids working with you look up to you, your job as a leader is vastly easier. You don’t have to be cool in the mainstream sense (skateboards and ripped jeans) but you should be someone cool in the sense that older kids are cool: they’re confident, they know how to have fun and they have been through it all before.

Those are just a few things I picked up as mechanical lead and drive coach. YMMV.

Thanks guys for all of your help! I appreciate it :slight_smile:

  1. Always remember, you’re a student among students. You’re both a leader and a peer, and there is nothing that will help you gain more respect among your teammates than working alongside them.
  2. Share your special skills. Anything you do that sets you apart form your peers is something that could set your team apart from other teams, so apply it.
  3. Anything you’re not good at, invest yourself in learning it and encourage those who are good at it to share it with other students. The more advanced skills your teammates have access to, the more successful your team will be, regardless of whether it’s robot-related, community-related or communication-related skills.
  4. Make friends on local teams. You’d be surprised how much every team differs in their thought process and priorities. Learn from local teams who you can visit, it can help you gain a broader perspective on what makes a team successful.

Best Advice I can give from experience is to help out the new guys with the learning curve. We can all agree that FIRST has a HUGE learning curve and there are many people that have to be helped along with getting into it or else your team won’t grow. Also, when people aren’t doing anything, either get them doing something or have them sit over the shoulder of someone who is doing something that they don’t yet know how to do so that they can watch / ask questions, and as a result, learn how to do it so that the next time they are asked, they can do that job. Keep everyone interested and getting better above all else.

And congratulations on the position! :o

I would definitely try and be someone your team’s members could talk to. Our leader this year definitely was a very positive influence on me, as well as the rest of my team. Also, don’t take everything seriously, laugh a little (or a lot) and definitely embrace your mistakes and errors.

Another thing you should try to do is involve new members. When I joined my team back in 2014 I had no idea what I had gotten my self into. All these people shouting for zipties and ducktape?! Whenever I wasn’t doing anything they involved me. I did that with the freshies this year too. At kickoff they were clueless about what FIRST even was, and now one is a human player and the other is one of the higher mechanical people!

Do these two things, and you’ll do just fine, I am sure :smiley:

Please learn your leadership style. People listen to leaders more then they listen to people pretending to be leaders (not saying you are pretending) so don’t let the title compromise your personality.
For example when tested on what kind of leadership style I have (if I can find the link I will bring it up) I got passive introverted leadership. That is to say while someone already posted the picture of the difference between a boss and a leader my natural state when leading isn’t holding your hand or bringing you to a destination. I prefer to setup all the information and let someone piece together the lesson. It is less work for me.
That isn’t to say this leadership style suits you on 1339 when I was a sophmore there was this certified can of awesome by the name of Tophurious Rex. He ran things classic point man up front leading the charge he took control of situations and he got results.
Both methods work just fine but my method wouldn’t work for him and his method didn’t work for me. Just figure you out.