Who should be the Captain??

Hi, I am new at the competition and the FRC team, actually its our schools first robotics year.

In our team when we were talking about the captain and that stuff, I discovered that everybody wants to be the captain. We have not decided yet, Do you think should we decide who will be the captain before the kick off or when we see who are the best for being the captain?

alSo who do you guys think that needs to be the captain? (Programmers, Electonics, Mechanics, Designers or The Organizing people like the Project Managers??

PS: (My ENglish is not so good sorry for that…)

No worries, your english is better than most people here. :wink:

On our team there is one captain for each of the sub-groups (Programmers, Electonics, Mechanics, Designers)

We generally choose 3-4 captains for the whole team based on who has been seen as most organized or cooperative in previous years. In your case, I would suggest perhaps mostly senior students that have been known in class to be organized, smart, kind/friendly to other people , and also those who have a passion for what they do. I’m sure a lot more people on here can help seeing as how I’m only on the team for my second year.

Oh, and welcome to FIRST and Chief Delphi:D

On the bright side, everyone’s enthusiastic! We don’t really have a single team leader. Our “Captain,” is basically team representative at competition alliance pickings. He happens to be our driver, who knows about other teams and is very experienced. For team leadership, our team actually has two Co-Presidents, elected at the end of summer each year. Tamara handles papers with the help of her mother (and eternal thanks to both of them), Nick organizes meetings/build sessions, both of them are the main people who talk to principals/teachers and of course, both of them are very deeply devoted to every aspect of Robotics and FIRST, especially Gracious Professionalism. We never organized this; it just happens to be where they are talented and what needs to be done.

Just try not to exclude anyone, and it will all (most of the time) work out. The leaders are usually those who get along with others and will help others to get along.

What our team does instead of assigning people into subteams is have people volunteer to lead individual aspects of the robot. We have people who are more talented (and willing) leading and working in CAD, Programming, Electronics, various Apparati (2007 ramp team/arm team), Drive Train, etc. It’s also very helpful to have at least one person in charge of safety. The entire team helps to design in a few marathon design sessions and then later continuously tweaks, but we try to avoid major changes.

Sorry it’s been long winded. Your English is good, and have fun in FIRST and Chief Delphi! That’s the important part, anyway.

The General Manager cannot be afraid to make some people mad. Ideas will have to be turned down or be dismissed. The manager is often the villian, been there done that. The manager should be the one everyone respects and will listen to. The problem with a democracy is that Mr. Popularity might win, and the most qualifed won’t win. Another problem if you have more than one manager, there will be conflicts, and nothing will get done. One person making decisions will be more. Its a job I had, and there were times it was a lot of fun, there were times I hated it. If ya have more questions PM me.

I agree with what people have said above.

Make sure everyone know how important it is not pick the “cool guy” just because he’s cool or to pick your friends just because they are your friends.

It is a very important role with alot of responsibility and it’s very hard to do (you have to be at all almost all meetings and have extra meetings with the other team leaders).

if you really have a lot of people then you have to have an election. and even if you don’t get picked you shouldn’t be to upset, there are alot of other great stuff to do in a team.

just and idea I have: try having the elections at the 2nd week of the competition or later - that’s when the true spirit of the person shows.
If you are the type that can lead your team, than they will know it by week 3, and they will choose wisely and not just based on friendship.


Last year, our rookie year, we went with the president, vice president, secretary, treasurer format. It really did not work out well, because half the people who we deemed qualified were simply not interested or not cut out for the job and myself and the president were doing most of the leadership, but we really didn’t know what to do.

This year we are naming all veteran seniors as captains, and veteran juniors as “co-captains” or “second-in-commands” or whatever you would like to refer to them as. Each senior is pretty much the leader of the group that they are experienced in, and are responsible for training and working with their replacement, which is pretty much of their choosing, and is most likely one of the veteran juniors. The juniors and seniors are all also directly responsible for making sure that the underclassmen are being exposed to the knowledge they need to be ready to take over when we graduate and be able to make the decision of which team they would like to lead one day. This might need some revising with larger teams, but as of now, we only have 4-5 veteran seniors and 3-4 veteran juniors i believe. Hope this helps a little.

Creating a team with the right kind of leadership organization is a tough, but necessary thing to do. Our team initially had our democratic team elections last April at the end of the FIRST season for a President, Vice President, Treasurer, Community Outreach Chair, and Webmaster. At the time of the election we were expecting the officers to lead the team for the BEST Robotics Competition this past fall, but we had a lot of members drop out, and lost most of our leadership with the exception of the President.

So, about a month ago our President and team mentors sat down and wrote out what the student positions needed to be, and what the specific responsibilities were going to be for each one. This is now posted on our website: http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dhtbdfw9_50qqh8znqr

We had our latest elections in the first week of December and reelected someone for each position except for our President. But the important part was that defined the responsibilities first, and reviewed them with the entire team before anyone nominated themselves for the positions. We did add one pretty major new position, and that was the Project Manager who is essentially in charge of everything related to the robot. Our team President is responsible for the big picture for the team. This includes not only the robot, but the marketing team, fundraising, community outreach, our team website, our pit display, etc. This will be the first season having this President/Project Manager organization, and I think it should work well.

As for breaking up the subteams for the build team, we’ve left that up to the Project Manager to handle. We may appoint subteam leaders for drivetrain, manipulator, electrical, and programming, or we may end up doing what we did last year where everyone just helps out with whatever needs to be done, so we’ll see.

I think she was refering to the team captain in the competition, the one who give the drivers the orders what to do.

In my opinion, get your captain now. Make sure he knows that he has to work harder on understanding the rules, understanding the team’s strategy, how the robot works, how the drivers handel it, learn about other teams etc.
It should tell your team how important this role is (though the roll only takes it’s place really towards the end of the build season and at the competition itself).

Once again, this answer is about the competition team captain, not (overall) team captain. If it’s the seconed one, what others have written sounds good.

This thread might help too.

Ehhh, not to brag, but last year I was the captain, simply because it kinda… happened. The motivation on the team to lead/drive was so low that my desire to lead/drive worked out. Of course, it’s not easy. Especially when you’re the programmer, everything gets blamed on you, and even when people are joking about “what happened on field?”, you start to take it personally.

This year, a buddy of mine kind of stepped up to the challenge as well. We’re both 4th year veterans, and we’re probably gonna get named co-captains if nobody else wants it.

Guess it works differently on every team.

It should be noted that I’m not weaseling my way up to the top, or undermining other’s efforts. It’s just that nobody else wants to do it, and I’m just doing my thang.

FIRST let me say welcome to FIRST!! Next let me say that every team is different when it comes to choosing captains or presidents. There is no right or wrong way. As a team leader I must say I made the decision for co captains. I sit back and I watch who is doing what. Once a captian on our team always a captain unless you aren’t doing your job. I had some team members question my decision 1 year for making a young girl one of our captains. She had been on our Lego team :] and very shy but did her work. To this day the rest of the team is grateful she is still a co captain. She has come out of her shell and is willing to stand up and give speeches, tell others what needs to be done and isn’t afraid to get in others faces to politely tell them how it is. I have only had to correct her 1 time and that was when she allowed a boy to take away her screw gun and say to her “here hun let me show you how it is done”:mad: . Never again will any male make that mistake:D . Leaders aren’t always the 1 who are the loudest at FIRST, they lead by example. Good luck to you and your team this year.

Well normally i would say look at past experience but sinnce you new, Welcome BTW, i’ll say this.

Our team is made up of sub-teams(mech, controls, marketing, etc.) and each sub-team has a sub-team lead. these leads report to the team leads. Who are kinda like the GMs of the team. These two (me being one of them) work with the sub-team leads to make decisions, then they report to there respective sub-team to tell them what is going on. This system has seemed to work for us so far.

For you guys, being new, i would look to see if anyone has experience in a given field, like if you have a team member that already know how to use a mill and a drill press, then look to him for guidance.

You will still want a Team lead or GM of some kind so ill say that make sure especially if you are doing it the democratic way don’t let the “cool” guy get voted in just cause he is “cool”. Also, try to avoid the heard mentality, one person raises their hand for someone and everyone else does just cause he did. try to avoid that by secret ballots.

You guys being new i would say let your team moderator (assuming you have one) handle the Gm role for a while till you can see who has those skills. Assign the sub-team leads by looking at the people who have those skills. and then later in the season like before the comp. assign a team lead or leads by vote, once everyone gets a chance to get to know each other.

Sorry this was soooo long hope it helps, and again welcome to FIRST. You are in to a fun year.


Welcome to FIRST robotics! If by captain you mean the person who will be the leader of the team throughout the build period, then the best choice is the person who excels at forethought and organizing - and is willing to do what it takes to get the job done. You will soon learn that six weeks is not nearly long enough to build a robot - and having someone who considers the bot their “baby” is sweet because they will keep track of details. As a new team, you really don’t have a pool of known personalities from which to choose. Don’t worry though; many teams (mine included) do just fine without giving that title to anyone. Just make sure that the people willing to work the long hours communicate with one another. If you must decide, then I suggest that you have a teacher/mentor select the captain, as they probably have a good idea which students are responsible and pro-active (hey, maybe you :smiley: ). As you become established, the natural leaders will surface and you will have a much easier time choosing.

If by captain you mean the alliance captain that will represent your team during the alliance selection and finals of a competition, then the role is vastly different. THAT person needs to know every robot at the event, and they must be able to identify which ones work best together. Sadly, alliance captains that win a popularity contest don’t fare so well. They typically look at the seeding list and select the next available robot - with predictable and disastrous results. Alliance selection is dynamic, so you can’t rely on a set plan or a seeding list. Our captain is chosen by the students and is usually a driver or scout who knows the strategies, robots that compliment ours, and robots to avoid (e.g. penalty-bots).

Good luck in the upcoming season(s) and welcome to the 1500+ teams of friends in FIRST robotics.

Since Mr B already covered the picking Alliance Captain above I won’t go into that, but I will expand on our own team’s structure as far as leadership.

Basically, the Pink Team is split into 3 groups (we call them divisions): Mechanical, IT, and PR. Mechanical handles anything and everything to do with the robot, IT handles everything to do with computers and support (web design, animation, scouting, etc), and PR handles everything between the team and other teams/the community (spirit, outreach, chairman’s, community service, lego league, etc.). Each division has a leader and a number of subgroups which have group leaders reporting to the division leader.

For a team just starting out this big pyramid of organization is probably overkill, but the important idea to take from it is that everyone in the pyramid knows what his/her responsibilities are. No matter who becomes the team “captain” or “president” or “leader”, the hardest part of their job will become making sure this is true for everyone 24/7.

In our team, leaders are not chosen democratically but are appointed by the people above them. For subgroup leaders, this usually means the division leader, and for division leaders a close consultation between the mentors and other division leaders.

As for choosing leaders, there are really three very important criteria to consider. These are natural leadership ability, albeit with reliability/integrity, and ability/enthusiasm for the subject. A person missing leadership skills will fail to motivate people with reliability and enthusiasm. A person missing integrity will probably get you there and accomplish the mission, but will destroy team trust in their wake. Finally, a person with leadership skills and integrity, but missing an enthusiasm for their subject will probably get bored/frustrated somewhere through the project, either way delivering a lackluster product.

I understand these are very hard things to gauge, especially in a young team such as your which hasn’t had the time to “feel out” how your people are performing and interacting.

So here is what I propose you do: don’t have any one “team leader”.
Instead, split your team based on specialty; that is, if Woody is into Electrical then he will be head of electrical and responsible for it. If Dean loves Outreach then Dean will be in charge of outreach, and again responsible for its success or failure. All of these leaders should meet regularly so they can coordinate their efforts, make sure that everyone is fulfilling responsibilities, and figure out what to do if someone falls short. If you wish you can have someone, either a mentor or project manager act as “Chair” of the committee to organize meetings and make sure communication doesn’t break down, but make it clear that this person is in no way “in charge” of the committee.

If one person has to take one more than one responsibility, that’s okay too, as long as they can handle it and deliver in the end. If disputes arise over who should be responsible for what and there is no clear distinction, just rochambeau or flip a coin. Some of the best leaders are chomping at the bit for a position, while the others are sitting quietly in the corner, but will rise to the challenge once they’ve been chosen, and it’s impossible to tell if someone is either of these at first glance.

This gets everyone in the habit of accountability and communication between groups, without shouldering the responsibility for the team’s success or failure on any one person.

Hope this helps

Depends on what “captain” you need. There are three or four that have been brought up:
–Team captain for build season. At this point, you want an organizer who is respected. His/her job is to make sure the robot gets built on time and to plan.

–Picking representative. Wait on this until much later. You want a “people person” who can take a list and narrow it quickly. Must know something of what your scouts have come up with at an event; may actually be the head scout.

–Drive coach. Required for this: Good strategy skills and a loud enough voice to be heard over the competition at close range. Wait until the end of build season to choose.

–Sub-team captains. Must be the best or close to it in that field that is available. Mentors ideal for the first year, if available; after that, students.

For the record, I don’t think that there is a requirement to have a team captain. You do need a student rep to sign off on the inspection and to pick teams. (These are often a team captain, so that can be taken into consideration.)

It sounds like you are looking for a leader. My advice here is, let mentors lead for now. A student leader will eventually show up. People don’t lead because they are chosen to lead; they are chosen to lead because they lead. Someone will demonstrate leadership; they should be the captain or leader.

Last year was our rookie year, so I don’t have a lot of experience with captain selection, but I do have experience with working with students. We have a large school that participates also in FTC. This year we took five teams to the competition, with five different captains. From watching the students during FTC build and competition, this gives me an idea how the students will behave as captain during FRC. This way I can not only select an overall team captain, but also leaders for the subdivisions. I do only choose a senior for the position, because they are the ones going on to college and in need of scholarships. It worked well last year and has been a good system so far for this year.:slight_smile:

This is an excellent thread regarding project management.
I esp. like Michael Sperber’s post #13.

Also, if you use the search option and search for leadership - you should find several threads regarding your topic and/or relating to it.

Understanding and implementing good leadership attributes/qualities is something that is very important in the development of the individual and the team in FIRST. Some naturally have the ability to lead and some step up and meet its challenge when given or presented the opportunity.

Add my recommendation to Jane’s: the whole thread she linked above is good reading, and Michael Sperber’s post is especially good.

To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Malvolio (Twelfth Night, Act II Scene 5): Be not afraid of leadership: some are born leaders, some achieve leadership, and some have leadership thrust upon 'em.

I agree, that’s a great point. I don’t remember exactly where I heard this statistic, but 90% of all problems that arise in the real world are due to breakdowns in communication.

you mite want to wait and see who has the best people skills,is opened, and gets along with others, and is well liked by your team.