Selecting team leaders

I am one of the two co-captains for team 122 this year. Unfortunately, the other co-captain has had several unexpected time commitments and cannot continue in her role as co-captain. We were selected by the mentors on our team. Today, the lead mentor on our team, Mrs. T, approached me and told me that she wanted me to make the decision as to who would be the next co-captain with me:eek: . We hail from a two-year career and technical education school, so our seniors are only in their second year on the team, including me. This makes it difficult for me to come up with candidates because a lot of the students are new or new last year. I have a couple of kids on the team that come to mind for the position and wanted to know: What are some key traits in a FIRST team student leader (or any leader for that matter) that you guys look for when evaluating leadership ability?


I kind of “know” when someone’s a leader; sometimes they might not be aware of it themselves. It’s just something you acquire after a long time in/around leadership.

In deciding whether I particularly want someone as a leader, I look at the following, in no particular order:

Maturity. I don’t care if you’re the greatest leader in the world if you act like a 5-year-old all the time.

Integrity. I don’t want someone who is going to not follow through on commitments (one aspect of integrity–I can go further into it if requested).

Trust. This one takes a while to develop, and it’s something that I have to have in relation to the leader. Quite simply, do I trust them?

Commitment. Are they committed to the team? If there is something that will interfere with serious commitment to the team, that is something that you will need to take into consideration.

Relationship. Can you work with the potential co-captain well?

Communicator. If they can communicate well, that’s a definite plus.

Experience (even if minimal). If you have some time in an organization, it’s better than zero time. My Aero Design team had a time requirement for all officers of one semester on the team (Operations Officer, the team captain, is two semesters). That probably won’t be an issue for you if you’ve done fall work as a team.

I would also encourage you to ask Mrs. T. what she and the other mentors look for when selecting a captain. Maybe they can give you some idea of who they had on their list before picking this year. Then you can figure out what their candidates have in common.

On our team, we have 2 co-captains as well. 1 focuses on business, and the other on the robot.

You want your co-leader to be passionate about robotics, and you need to know that they are fully committed to the team.

Thanks for the reply guys!! EricH, I pretty much had the same general guidelines, so its good to know that I am heading in the right direction. Avanboekel, that was one thing that Mrs. T suggested, if not explicitly. Being a programmer by nature, I would have to say I will probably be looking for someone with experience on the PR and business side. Thanks again!!

Well, coming from a student (myself) I would say to maybe let the season begin, and see if anyone really starts to fit the role because this is my story.

-I am now in the 10th grade, and have been the operator of the drive team and caption for 3 years (my school is 8th-12th). Also while around for ~10 years, the school had never had a large team (more than 10 or so) but my 8th grade there were ~5 and ~3 that showed up consistently.
-Way back (8th grade) I honestly was not even thinking about robotics (to be honest, I never thought about doing anything involving engineering before), but in the beginning of January I found out that my school has a robotics team (didn’t know it the whole 1st semester). I decided to join (wasn’t much excited) but when I did, I enjoyed it a lot and the challenge. The mentor (only mentor, schools physics teacher, Mr H) was my study hall proctor (always sleeping trying to watch LabView tutorials) so each SH i would watch tutorials. Then each meeting Mr H now says I was always trying hard and naturally took leadership (the other students did participate in pre-season).

-SO I became extremely involved with robot design, building, electronics, and programming (for competition the other 8th grader and I were the drivers and we don’t even have to communicate (just in sync). side-note: I believe our team finished even behind the team without a robot that year… but we had fun.

-THIS year I got more people involved (consistent team of 8 that were really involved (few have done FLL). I prepared videos for kickoff and I keep Mr H at work (otherwise it doesn’t get done…Good fellow) I took the very basic and old school C++ language my school offers 2nd Semester from the AP Calc teacher and was dedicated for that as well (one day he goes “Davis, do you even do your other homework”, cause I always was working on programming).

  • AND NOW we have held some meeting for even more new students ( got about 5-10 more involved; that’s good considering it is probably most known for its art program, and we have only 420 students total since it is private). I have got the schools new math teacher involved (has engineering degree) and another of the math teachers (also has engin. deg.) and the programming teacher (who helped back with the old IFI control system). To be honest, I am probably the most dedicated, for ex. I am always working on some robotics task (currently on my desk I have a Kinect (prgramming it), multiple other control system parts and sensors, FRC battery, and an unopened spanish book for my exam tomorrow…).

Yea, I know the post is long (and probably off-topic a bit), but sometimes the dedicated people don’t really shine till you start giving them robotics stuff instead of English essays or busy-work. I never thought of robotics till I joined the team and now I definitely want to go into a relation of Computer Engineering or Programming Engineering.

Hope this helps,

Our core leadership is student-elected, but that group of leaders does pick people for auxiliary leadership roles. Our main deciding factors are usually maturity, devotion and experience.

However, I do like Davis’s story, and it opens the opportunity to paraphrase a bully quote from our friend TR: While some are born leaders, others have leadership thrust upon them. It’s kind of hard to explain this, because it requires a lot of intuition and insight about your team. The idea is that there is someone who doesn’t look like leadership material - they rarely take charge, they might be very quiet or inexperienced - but once they’re in a leadership position they step up, going far beyond what you expected. You have to look closely to find these people, but oftentimes they’re worth the work.

Our current Marketing president started out as a programmer, but through chance he ended up in charge of building our 2009 website, and is now one of our best presidents ever. The old captain who recruited him to work on the site probably had no intention of finding a president, but she did anyway.

Good luck!