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By Nick Pesik
CAHA 598


This paper examines the importance of leadership for societies and organizations
to successfully work. Furthermore, the paper focuses on the need of leadership in sport
organizations, and the key role that head coaches play in the success of their teams. The
purpose is to analyze three successful head coaches, Vince Lombardi, Bo Schembechler,
and Nick Saban, figure out what they all have in common, and based on these findings,
determine some characteristics that all coaches must have in order to be successful.
According to my findings, successful coaches must be knowledgeable on the sport they
coach, have coaching experience, set realistic goals for their team, emphasize teamwork,
be open to receive feedback, and be consistent.

The evidence is clear. From the time people are born, they can observe how there
is always someone in charge, making plans and deciding what to do in certain situations.
This can clearly be seen at home, where someone, normally the parents, tells their
children what to do and how to behave. As we get older, this translates to school, where
teachers are the ones in charge. The same thing happens in social groups, at work, in
religious organizations, and sport entities. Leadership is present in almost every
organization. It is present in local communities, state and national governments, and at
the international level, which is why the world as we know it could not exist without
leaders. That is why it is important to understand the origins of leadership, the meaning of
the word leader, the importance of leadership, the most important leadership theories and
styles, and the difference between ethical and unethical leadership.
According to Bass (2008), leadership has been built into the human psyche
because of the long period we need to be nurtured by parents for our survival (p. 3).
When babies are born, they need to follow the leadership of their parents, who are in
charge of satisfying their needs for food and comfort. As children start to leave the house
and socialize, peers and other significant people start taking the leadership position that
parents used to have, but leadership is present in one form or another for the entirety of
their lives (p. 3).
The patterns of behavior that are considered acceptable in leaders change with
time and among cultures, although there are some surprising similarities. Leadership
occurs among most people, regardless of the society they live in. Even in societies where

there are no institutions, police, rulers, or officials, there are usually leaders who initiate
action and play key roles in a groups decision making. Even though many societies
might lack a single overall leader to make and enforce decisions, no societies have ever
been known that lack leadership of some type (Bass, 2008, p. 3).

History of Leadership
The concept of leadership is as old as the concept of history. Much of the study of
history has been the study of leaders and what they did. Some examples of these leaders
are Plato, Aristotle, Augusto Caesar, Jesus Christ, Cristobal Columbus, Napoleon
Bonaparte, Albert Einstein, and Adolf Hitler. Written principles of leadership go back
nearly as far as the emergence of civilization. The first written principles of leadership
can be found in Egypt in the Instruction of Ptahhotep (2300 B.C.E.). In the sixth century
B.C.E., Confucius and Lao-tzu already discussed the responsibilities of leaders and how
they should conduct themselves. Confucius stated that leaders have to set a moral
example, while Lao-tzu said that leaders must always participate in a societys
development (Bass, 2008, p. 4).
Leadership was also present in ancient Greece. In 386 B.C.E., Plato initiated one
of the first leadership training centers in the world, an institute he called the Academy. He
was attempting to create a new type of statesman, someone who could withstand the
pressures of office and become a leader for the community. Plato was worried that society
would not work without the presence of a leader. Platos concern with community,
authority, ethics, hierarchy, and especially leadership was profound. Platos Republic, for
example, contains useful information on how modern leaders can inspire trust and
confidence, provide psychological support, and obtain the best possible performance
from their followers work (Kakabadse, Nortier, & Abramovici, 1998, p. 35-36).

After Plato, there have been many philosophers, medieval warriors, kings, and
religious figures that have shared the concern for the need of having a leadership figure.
For more than 2,000 years, the moral philosophy of leadership has been focused on ideal
and appropriate behavior, with the distinction between good and evil. Therefore, the
essence of leadership has been concerned with how social groups organize and work as
they have to deal with constant challenges and change such as new technologies,
transformed work environments, managerial changes, new standards of life and different
expectations for work (Kakabadse et al., 1998, pp. 35-36).
Definition of Leadership
Before talking about the different types of leadership theories and styles, it is
important to understand the definition of leadership. Even though the concept of leader
has been around for millenniums, the term leadership is a relatively recent addition to the
English language. According to Stodgill (1974), the term leadership has only been in use
for about two hundred years. However, the term leader, from which leadership is derived,
appeared around 1300 A.D. (p. 8).
According to Yukl (1989), researchers normally define leadership based on
individual perspectives. Leadership has been defined in terms of individual traits, leader
behavior, role relationships, follower reactions and perceptions, influence on task goals,
and influence on organizational culture. While most definitions of leadership seem to
involve an influence process, many of the definitions proposed have little else in common
(p. 252).
Winston and Patterson (2006) worked together with the purpose of presenting a
complete definition of leadership as it exists today. By reviewing more than 160 articles

and books that contained a definition, a scale, or a construct of leadership, they came up
with an integrative definition of leadership that reflected all the research they had
reviewed (p. 6). Winston and Patterson definition of leadership is as follows:
A leader is one or more people who selects, equips, trains, and influences one or
more follower(s) who have diverse gifts, abilities, and skills and focuses the
follower(s) to the organizations mission and objectives causing the follower(s) to
willingly and enthusiastically expend spiritual, emotional, and physical energy in
a concerted coordinated effort to achieve the organizational mission and
objectives. (p. 7)
Need for Leadership
Historically leadership has been around for so long because leaders are needed for
any organization and society to work effectively. According to Mills (2005), there are few
things that are more important to human activity than leadership. The effective leadership
of parents enables children to grow healthy and strong and become productive adults.
Effective leadership helps different nations to overcome difficult times such as financial
crises, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters. It also makes organizations successful by
fulfilling their missions and working towards their visions (p. 10).
While the presence of good leaders is extremely important, the absence of
leadership is equally dramatic in its effects. The absence of leadership leads to bad
decision making, poor implementation, and failure. For the most part, when an
organization faces problems of poor implementation, it is facing a lack of leadership,
since leadership is crucial in successfully implementing decisions (Mills, 2005, p. 10).

Finally, leadership is important because people recognize it is. People recognize
the importance of leadership when they vote for their political leaders in countries all
over the globe. Furthermore, investors recognize the importance of business leadership
when they admit that a good leader is the most important thing when looking at a
business plan (Mills, 2005, p. 10).
Without leadership, people tend to conflict and disagree because they think
differently. Leadership, therefore, helps to point people in the same direction and harness
their efforts jointly, no matter if it is a family, a business, an organization, a state, or a
country (Mills, 2005, p. 11).
Leadership is of extreme importance to any organization. Multiple studies that
have taken place over the years state that employees favorable attitudes toward their
supervisors contributed to employees satisfaction. It has been proven that supervisors
make a difference in employees sense of equity in the workplace and are more important
than other factors, such as salary and work schedule (Bass, 2008, p. 8).
According to Bass (2008), there are multiple examples throughout history of the
importance of leadership to success. France would not have had half the success they did
if it was not for Napoleon, one of the greatest leaders in history, who lead the French
Empire to many victorious battles. Napoleon expressed his feeling about the importance
of leadership when he stated that he would rather have an army of rabbits lead by a lion
than an army of lions lead by a rabbit. The American Civil War provides us with another
excellent example of how important leadership can be. It was the leadership of Robert E.
Lee that allowed the Confederate forces to defeat the larger and better-equipped Union
forces in many battles. Furthermore, it was the leadership of Henry V what allowed

15,000 Englishmen to defeat over 45,000 Frenchmen who were more heavily armored,
but did not have the supervision and sufficient leadership (p. 8).
There are also examples of the importance of leadership in other areas of life,
such as business and government.
A clear business example of the importance of leadership took place at HarleyDavidson, which was almost taken out of business by competition from other firms in the
1980s. In order to survive, the company leader, Rich Teerlink, made significant changes
in the philosophy of the company, creating a company driven from the bottom up by
employees rather than from the top down by mangers. By introducing this major change
and some other innovative ideas, he was able to save the firm financially (Mills, 2005, p.
Another example of the importance of leadership is Charles O. Rossotti, who
became the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 1997, a time when the
agency had the lowest approval rating of any institution in the United States. When he
was hired, the IRS suffered tremendous management and technology problems, and it
was considered a flawed and dysfunctional organization. Rossotti was able to completely
transform the way the IRS was run. He initiated dramatic changes in the way the IRS did
business, while continuing to collect $2 trillion in revenue annually. Through several
congressional hearings, exchanges of opinion with taxpayers and employees, and several
risky turnaround strategies, Rossotti showed great leadership, and was able to turn the
organization around (Mills, 2005, p. 23).
Leadership in Sports

Furthermore, leadership is extremely important in any sport organization, and it is
one of the keys to success. Every sport organization, no matter how big or small it is, has
individuals in charge of leading it towards success. One of those individuals is the head
coach, who is in charge of the players performance, trains and mentors them, and decides
which players are going to play. No team can be successfully run without the leadership
of a coach. Furthermore, most teams, especially successful teams, have one or several
players that are in charge of leading their teammates towards success. Examples of this
are Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan in basketball, Tom Brady and Jordan Lynch in
football, or Pele and Maradona in soccer.
According to McCormick (2010), many elite sport leaders are born with an ability
to be immediately respected by their teammates and direct their teams to victory. Others,
however, develop their leadership skills through the challenges of everyday life, facing
tremendous difficulties and overcoming those through mental toughness and physical and
mental effort. Bill Russell, acknowledged as the greatest winner in the history of team
sports, became one of the greatest leaders of sports history by gaining the respect of
many people through dedication and effort. Russell is an expert on leading and winning,
as he has won two high school state championships, two NCAA titles, eleven NBA
championships, and a gold medal at the Olympic Games (p. 2).
Russell believes that great leaders care about the team and winning, not about
themselves. They always find ways to make their teammates better. Russell stated that he
was extremely excited to be part of his high school team and win the California State
Championship, even though he did not play in the whole tournament. He also mentioned
that when he was playing, he always looked for ways to help the team win, such as

blocking shots, rebounding, and passing the ball. Finally, he claimed that he always tried
to set an example for his teammates as a role model. He never wanted to do anything that
would embarrass his team, friends, and family since he wanted to be a leader that people
would want to follow (McCormick, 2010, p. 4).
Finally, the sport industry has also fallen victim to unethical decisions. There are
many cases of athletes who were either caught taking performance enhancing drugs or
have admitted after their careers to using illegal substances. Furthermore, many athletes
have engaged in unethical conduct on and off the court, misrepresenting themselves, their
teams, and their sports. Finally, ethical mistakes are responsible for ending many athletes
careers more quickly and more definitively than any other errors (Mullane, 2009, p. 1).

Leadership Theories
There is a lot of literature about the different types of leadership theories. Most
studies agree that leadership theories have evolved with time. According to Stone and
Patterson (2005), early organizations with authoritarian leaders believed that employees
were intrinsically lazy. Therefore, authoritarian leaders choose to make the work
environment very conducive in order to improve productivity rates. The focus changed
with time, and today, most organizations are becoming places where many employees are
empowered, supported, and encouraged in both their professional and personal
development through their careers. Finally, the development and progression of different
leadership theories has been changing as the focus of leaders has changed (p. 1).
Furthermore, while early studies tend to focus on the different behaviors and traits of
successful leaders, most recent theories have started to consider the key role of followers

and the contextual nature of leadership (Bolden, Gosling, Marturano, & Denninson, 2003,
p. 6).
Great Man Theories. The Great Man Theories are based on the belief that
leaders are destined to lead, since they are born with innate qualities that make them
exceptional people and therefore great leaders. These theories assume that people are
born leaders, not made. The use of the term great man was intentional since the concept
of leadership was attributed only to males (Bolden et al., 2003, p. 6). According to
Northhouse (2004), the Great Man Theories focused on identifying the innate qualities
and characteristics of the most significant social, political, and military leaders of the
time, such as Gandhi, Lincoln, or Napoleon (p. 15).
Trait Theory. The Trait Theory arose from the Great Man Theories in order to
identify some key characteristics of leaders. The trait theorists believe that specific
leadership traits could be isolated, and that those people could be recruited and selected
to have leadership positions (Bolden el al., 2003, p. 6). According to Horner (1997),
leadership was explained by the internal qualities with which a person was born. Trait
theories believe that leaders are born with certain qualities or traits that differentiate them
from everyone else. Therefore, the key to success was simply to identify those people
who were born to be great leaders (p. 270).
The Trait Theory focuses on the leader only and it never focuses on the followers
or the situation. The leader and his or her personality are the most important factor in the
leadership process. The Trait Theory is only concerned with leaders and their traits, and it
emphasizes the importance of having a leader with a certain set of traits in order to
achieve effective leadership. Furthermore, this theory also suggests that organizations and

companies will be more successful if the people that lead them have designated
leadership profiles. Organizations can do that by specifying the traits they wish to have
for particular positions, and use personality assessment tools during interviews to
determine the best candidate for a given position (Northhouse, 2004, p. 21).
Behavioral Theories. Behavioral theories emphasize the behavior of the leader.
They focus only on what leaders actually do rather than on their qualities, making them
very different from the Trait Theory (Northhouse, 2004, p. 65). According to Bolden et
al., (2003), the most important person in the development of behavioral theories was
Douglas McGregor, who came up with a leadership strategy that had a great impact on
managers and the way they could lead. This strategy was called the McGregors Theory
X & Theory Y Managers (p. 7).
Situational or Contingency Theory. Situational or Contingency Theory stresses
the idea that different situations demand different types of leadership. Therefore, an
effective leader is required to adapt his or her style to the demands of different situations
(Northhouse, 2004, p. 87).
This approach sees leadership as specific to the situation in which it is being
exercised. While some situations might require a given leadership style, others might
require a completely different one. Furthermore, the theory states that different leadership
styles may be applied in different levels of the same organization. Therefore, there is no
one leadership style that is right for every manager under all circumstances. Instead,
different leadership styles should be used depending on the situation, the people, the task
at hand, and the organization (Bolden et al., 2003, p. 6).

Path-goal Theory. Path-goal theory was developed in order to define the way
that leaders encourage, motivate, and support their followers in order to achieve those
goals. Leaders do this by clarifying to their followers what path to take, helping them
overcome any difficulties they might find, increasing the opportunities for personal
satisfaction along the way, and increasing the rewards of achieving the final goal( House,
1996, p. 324).
Transactional Theory. Transactional theory emphasizes the importance of the
relationship between leaders and followers. In this relationship, a leader shows his
appreciation to the followers by giving them rewards and recognition in return for their
hard work and loyalty. Therefore, this theory focuses on the mutual benefits derived from
a relationship between leaders and followers (Bolden et al., 2003, p. 6).
Transformational Theory. According to Stone and Patterson (2005), there is one
more leadership theory in which leaders are looking for their followers to become an
active part on the organizations goals (p. 7). Transformational leadership is a process that
changes and transforms people. With transformational leadership, a leader's focus is
directed toward the organization, but leader behavior builds follower commitment toward
the organizational objectives through empowering followers to accomplish those
objectives. With their behavior, leaders influence followers to achieve more than what is
normally expected from them. Transformational leadership is a process that involves
values, ethics, emotions, and takes into account the followers and their needs by treating
them as full human beings and trying to help them become better at what they do
(Northouse, 2004, p. 169). According to Cawthon (1996), transformational leaders are

those who achieve success by being magnetic, charming and visionary. Charisma is an
essential ingredient (p. 3).
Leadership Styles
There are different leadership styles, and choosing the right style depending on
the situation is essential for the success of any organization. According to Kocher,
Pogrebna, and Sutter (2009), leadership style and the effectiveness of interactions
between leaders and their subordinates are important determinants of team success in any
hierarchical organization (p. 1). Furthermore, leadership style, whether based on
organizational culture or on the personality of the leader, influences the relationship
between the leader and the followers, and has an effect on the incentive contracts that can
be offered to subordinates (Rotermberg & Saloner, 1993, p. 1299). There is also a lot of
literature about the different leadership styles, and which ones are most successful
depending on the situation. Next, I will describe the most important leadership styles.
Autocratic leadership. Autocratic leadership places a high emphasis on
performance and a low emphasis on people. The autocratic leader assumes that people are
irresponsible and lazy, and that the leader must be in charge of everything with very little
employee involvement, since they are not capable. Therefore, the autocratic leader is
given the power to make all decisions on his own, having total authority. This leadership
style might be good for those employees that need constant supervision in order to do
their job. However, this leadership style would never work with creative people or team
players, since they would never be able to take the initiative and have decision making
power (Warrick, 1981, p. 158).

Democratic leadership. Democratic leadership places a high emphasis on both
performance and people. Unlike an autocratic leader, a democratic leader assumes that
the majority of people are honest, hardworking, and willing to do anything needed in
order to accomplish an organizations goals. Even though the final decision will still be
made by a leader, a democratic leader will always invite other members of the team to
contribute to the decision-making process, increasing job satisfaction and helping people
develop new skills. People working under a democratic leadership style feel in control of
their own destinies, and they are motivated to work hard (Warrick, 1981, p. 160).
Laissez Faire leadership. The French phrase Laissez Faire means "let them
do" and is used to describe a leader who lets employees work at their own paces. This
type of leadership places a low emphasis on performance and people. It assumes that
people will be unpredictable and hard to control. Therefore it is better to let them work at
their own pace and will. It relies on advocating to those people that will step up to get the
job done. This type of leadership could work in teams of individuals who are extremely
experienced, skilled and knowledgeable. However, this type of leadership would not
work in a situation where employees are not self-motivated or skilled. Given the lack of
feedback and supervision by the leader, this type of leadership style most often leads to
higher costs, bad service or failure to meet deadlines (Warick, 1981, p. 158-59).
Bureaucratic leadership. Bureaucratic leadership places a high emphasis on
working by the book, making sure that every process is structured and follows
established procedures. There is no room for creativity in bureaucratic leadership, and
one of the leaders main goals is to ensure that all steps have been followed according to
plan before moving forward to the next step. This type of leadership style is common in

hospitals, banks, universities, and the government, with the goals of increasing security
and decreasing corruption (Horner, 1997, p. 272).
Charismatic leadership. According to Palshikar (n.d.), some examples of
charismatic leaders are Jesus, Gandhi, and even Hitler. A charismatic leader leads by
infusing energy and belief into his/her members to the point where many followers see
the leaders as god-like figures. Charismatic leaders have a long-term commitment to the
organization, and the overall success of the organization depends on them and the
decisions they make. However, charismatic leaders appeal strongly to the values of the
followers, and it is that psychological union between leaders and followers that makes
charismatic leadership succeed (p. 2). Furthermore, a charismatic leaders actions are
enthusiastic, and class and status barriers sometimes give way to fraternization and
exuberant community sentiments. Because of that, charismatic leaders are viewed as truly
revolutionary forces in history (Takala, 1998, p. 795).
Transactional leadership. According to Hoyle (2006), transactional leadership
requires the integration of organizational goals and expectations with employees needs.
The team members agree to obey the leader when they start doing a job in exchange for
some reward, normally money. A transactional leader has power to perform certain tasks
and reward or punish employees depending on their performances. The leader has all the
power to train, improve, evaluate, and correct subordinates in order to improve
productivity. The followers have no power, and they might feel that the production goals
of management are beyond their abilities and energy (p. 2).
Transformational leadership. A transformational leader motivates his/her team
to be effective and efficient. The leader demonstrates his/her ability to understand people

and their problems through communicating with them. Organizations using this style of
leadership create an environment where every person is empowered to fulfill his/her
highest needs to become a productive member. The leader is always visible, since they
must communicate, but they are not necessarily a major figure that leads from the front.
Transformational leaders delegate responsibility among the team. The leader is always
searching for ideas to move the organization towards its vision, and he/she uses the help
of all the employees to do so through communication, understanding, and employee
empowerment (Hoyle, 2006, p. 2).
People-oriented or relationship-oriented leadership. According to Bolden et
al., (2003), the people oriented leader seeks to build interpersonal relationships and offers
extra help in order to achieve team development in the organization. This type of leader
engages in two-way communication, which includes listening, facilitating and supporting
behaviors (p. 9).
Task-oriented leadership. According to Peters, Hartke, and Pohlmann (1985), a
task oriented leader focuses on the job and on the specific tasks assigned to each
employee in order to reach the overall goal. Similarly to autocratic leadership, it requires
close supervision and control by the leader in order to achieve the expected results (p.
275). A task-oriented leader experiences satisfaction only when the task is completed, and
he/she engages in only one-way communication with the followers (Bolden et al., 2003,
p. 9).
Servant leadership. According to Stone, Russell, and Patterson (2004), the focus
of servant leadership is on others and on understanding the role of the leader as a servant.
The main goal of the servant leader is to serve and meet the needs of others. By doing

that, servant leaders will help people improve and achieve their goals. Followers trust
servant leaders and are influenced by them (p. 352).
Ethical Leadership
Ethical leadership takes into account the leaders, the followers, the context or
situation that is being faced, the leaders processes and skills, and the outcomes that
result. Ethical leaders embody the purpose, vision, and values of an organization and its
followers (Freeman & Stewart, 2006, p. 3).
According to Johnson (2012), ethics is the heart of leadership, and ethics and
leadership should go hand in hand. Therefore, there are important ethical demands that
leaders must fulfill. Furthermore, there are also ethical challenges associated with the
follower role. Those people who want to serve as leaders have the responsibility to
exercise their authority on behalf of others (p. xii).
According to Johnson (2012), ethical development is part of leadership and
followership development. Therefore, leaders and followers can and must develop their
abilities to make and follow through on their moral decisions, just as they develop in
other competencies (p. xii).
There are remarkable examples of great ethical leadership:

Robert More, the CEO of Bobs Natural Foods, gave his company to its 200
Oregon employees on his 81st birthday.

The leaders of hundreds of relief organizations responded right away to the

devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile.

Greg Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute have helped over 50,000 middleeastern girls attend school.

Unfortunately, there are also examples of unethical leadership everywhere (e.g.
business, military, politics, medicine, education, religion). In almost every case, those
leaders that make an unethical decision sacrifice their positions of leadership and their
reputations, and in many cases they face civil lawsuits, criminal charges, and jail time.
Unfortunately, the cost might be even higher for the followers, who are almost always
unaware of the unethical leadership taking place. A few examples of unethical leadership
behaviors are:

Investors all over the world invested in Bernie Madoff and ended up losing
billions of dollars in the greatest scam in history.

A significant number of people that worked for Enron and WorldCom might never
be able to recover from the loss of their jobs and their retirement savings.

Members of the British Parliament used public funds to remodel personal


The unfortunate and catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could have been
avoided, since it was the product of several poor decisions by leaders at BP, who
decided to ignore several safety warnings, and did not have a strategy to solve the
problem when it happened.

Hundreds of children in the United States and Europe suffered sexual abuse from
some members of Catholic clergy.

These are just some important and recent examples of bad leadership ethics, and they
show how fundamental ethics are to be a good leader. Ethics is at the heart of leadership,
and leaders have an obligation to act in ways that will benefit rather than damage others
(Johnson, 2012, pp. xvii-xviii).

Leadership in Coaching
It is clear that sport organizations need great coaches in order to be successful.
However, there is a lot of disagreement about what being a great coach means. Before we
discuss what it takes to be a successful coach, it is important to understand the meaning
of coaching, know the importance of having a defined coaching philosophy, and be aware
of the three main coaching styles.
Definition of coaching. According to Martens (2012), coaching is teaching.
Coaches guide athletes in a process where they learn technical, tactical and often life
skills. Coaches also direct athletes use of those skills. Coaches have an opportunity to
rate athletes performances and understand what they need to improve every time their
teams compete (p. ix).
Coaching is also leading. Coaches have great power over their athletes, and it is
up to the coach as to how they manage this power. Coaches normally have a great impact
on the lives of the athletes they coach, as the athletes see them as leaders and role models.
Coaching is a demanding helping profession. The better coaches take care of themselves
physically and mentally, the better they will be able to help their athletes (Martens, 2012,
p. x).
Coaching philosophy. According to Martens (2012), having a defined coaching
philosophy (the beliefs or principles that guide the actions coaches take) is the most
important factor that will determine a coachs success. A coaching philosophy determines
how coaches use their knowledge about technical and tactical skills, and it will guide
them through their careers. A coaching philosophy also affects interactions with others,
such as other athletes, parents, officials, and other coaches. In addition, a coaching

philosophy helps coaches define success and determine what goals they are looking to
accomplish through their coaching efforts (p. 1).
According to Martens (2012), coaches should respond to different situations
throughout their careers based on their coaching philosophy. When a particular situation
comes up (e.g., a player breaks a team rule), the coach makes use of his/her coaching
philosophy in order to make a decision. That situation might cause the coach to further
solidify his beliefs, or to make some changes in his/her coaching philosophy. The main
challenge is to develop a coaching philosophy that is solid and based on well-constructed
principles, while allowing it to be flexible enough to be modified during the coaches
career. Coaching philosophies are constructed over years of experience. Each season
provides additional resources and helps the coach improve his/her coaching philosophy.
Finally, it is extremely important for coaches to be consistent and coherent, since they are
communicating with their athletes through words and actions. Athletes become aware of
these principles during team meetings, individual training sessions, daily practice, and
competition (p. 4 & 5).
Coaching styles. This section will focus on the different coaching styles.
According to Rose (2006), there are three main types of coaching styles: the command or
autocratic style, the cooperative or democratic style, and the submissive style. These three
coaching styles clearly represent three main communication styles: aggressive, assertive,
and passive (p. 13).
The Command or Autocratic Style. According to Rose (2006), the coach is the
main decision maker in the command or autocratic style. He/she assumes all
responsibilities, and the only role of the athletes is to listen and obey the coachs

commands. Autocratic coaches have a strong need to control others and see their athletes
as a means to an end. They believe that players need to be externally motivated, and it is
the coachs job to do that through rewards and punishments (p. 14).
According to Reed (2011),
Coaches that employ this style are characterized by having a belief in strong
discipline, rigidity of rules, and an impersonal attitude towards their athletes. The
autocratic coach has a high need to control others and the coaching position
satisfies that need. (p. 7)
Finally, autocratic coaches are very controlling, and they often make sure that
they control every move the athlete makes, from practice and games to their private lives,
including what they eat, when they sleep, who they spend time with. With the command
or autocratic style, power is given to the coach, and compliance and obedience are
expected from the players. Coaches using this coaching style are frequently quick to
recognize mistakes and distribute punishments. Examples of coaches that have used this
type of coaching style are Bobby Knight (Indiana University) and Vince Lombardi
(Green Bay Packers) (Reed, 2011, p. 7).
The Cooperative or Democratic Style. Under the cooperative or democratic
coaching style, the coach and the player work together in order to make important
decisions and obtain high levels of performance. Coaches that use this type of coaching
style are sometimes referred to as teachers since they believe that the primary way for
athletes to grow and improve, both on and off the court, is to make decisions on their own
and learn from their mistakes. One of the main challenges of this type of coaching style is
knowing when to direct the players and when to give them space and let them learn on

their own. In order to successfully implement this coaching style, there needs to be a
balance between player and coaching decision making (Rose, 2006, p. 16).
Phil Jackson was a democratic coach. He rarely called any time outs, allowing his
players to get into the flow of the game and make their own decisions. Other examples of
coaches who used the cooperative or democratic style are Dean Smith (former North
Carolina University coach), Mike Krzyzewski (current Duke University coach) and John
Wooden (former UCLA coach and Hall-of-Fame) (Rose, 2006, p. 16).
The Submissive Style: According to Rose (2006), this type of coaching style is
usually found in amateur sports, where there is little or no competition. Coaches who
adopt this style normally lack the knowledge to give instruction, and often serve as just
an observer more than anything else.
Leadership is present throughout peoples lives. Even though the patterns of
behavior that are considered acceptable in leaders change with time and among cultures,
the need for leadership does not change. Leadership is present in families, local
communities, organizations, the state and national government, and internationally. Any
organization and society needs leadership to work effectively.
While the presence of leadership is fundamental for any society or organization to
work properly, leadership must be ethical in order to work. According to Johnson (2012),
ethics is the heart of leadership, and ethics and leadership should go hand in hand, since
leaders have the responsibility to exercise their authority on behalf of others (p. xii).
Finally, leadership is extremely important in sports. Great teams are led by their
coaches, who usually have great power over their athletes and impact the athletes lives

on and off the court. Furthermore, having a defined coaching philosophy and style are
important factors determining a coachs success.


Coaches recognized by their leadership

Using the information found in all the books and articles researched, the coaching
styles of three successful head coaches, Vince Lombardi, Phil Jackson, and Pep
Guardiola, will be described and analyzed. Based on these findings, I will determine
some characteristics that all coaches must have in order to be successful, no matter what
level they are coaching at. According to my findings, there are six characteristics that all
coaches must have in order to achieve success.
First, coaches must be knowledgeable of their sport. The more knowledge they
have, the better their chances of being successful will be. Second, coaching experience,
and most times playing experience, is a requirement for coaches to eventually achieve
success. Third, successful coaches will set realistic goals to be achieved by their team.
Fourth, no team is successful without teamwork. The coach must make sure that the team
bonds together and works together towards success. Fifth, the ability of the coach to
receive and analyze feedback from their players is fundamental for the improvement of
the team. Finally, and probably most important, coaches must be consistent on their
coaching philosophy and style in order to be successful.


(couple) Bass, B. M. (2008). The Bass handbook of leadership. Theory, research, &
managerial applications. New York, NY: Free Press.
(couple) Bolden, R., Gosling, J., Marturano, A. & Dennison, P. (2003). A review of
theory and competency frameworks. Centre for Leadership Studies.
of Exeter.
(1)Cawthon, D. L. (1996). Leadership: The Great Man Theory revisited. Journal of
Horizons, 1-4.
(1) Freeman, R. E. & Stewart, L. (2006). Developing Ethical Leadership. Business
Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics. Charlottesville, VA: Bridge Papers.
(2) Horner, M. ( 1997). Leadership theory: past, present and future. Team Performance
Management 3, (4), 270-287.
(1)House, R. J. (1996). Path-goal theory of leadership: Lessons, legacy and a
reformulated theory. Leadership Quarterly, 7, 323-352.
(2)Hoyle, J. R. (2006). Leadership Styles. Encyclopedia of Educational Leadership and
Administration. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. Retrieved from
(3) Johnson, C. E. (2012). Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership. Casting Light
Shadow. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
(3) (history) Kakabadse, A., Nortier, F., & Abramovici, L. B. (1998). Success in Sight:
London, UK: International Thomson Business Press.
(1) Kocher, M. G., Pogrebna, G., & Sutter, M. (2009). Other-regarding preferences and
leadership styles. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4080.
(3) (def/phil) Martens, R. (2012). Successful Coaching. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
(2) McCormick, T. (2010, September 29). The greatest leader in sports history. Smart
Business: Insight. Advice. Strategy. Retrieved from
(4) needs for leadershipMills, D. Q. (2005). Leadership. How to lead, how to live.
Waltham, MA: MindEdge


(1) Mullane, S. P. (2009). Ethics and leadership. The Johnson A. Edosomwan Leadership
Institute of Miami.
(1) Northouse, P. G. (2004). Leadership. Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Palshikar, K. (n. d.). Charismatic leadership. Retrieved from
(task-oriented) Peters, L. H., Hartke, D. D., & Pohlmann, J. T. (1985). Fiedlers
Contingency Theory of Leadership: An application of the meta-analysis procedures of
Schmidt and Hunter. Psychological Bulletin, 97 (2), 274-285.
(aucratic (1) Reed, K. (2011). Sports world needs more humanistic coaches. League of
Fans. Sports Manifesto. Report III in a Series of XI, 1-20.
(coaching styles) Rose, G. M. (2006). Leadership, communication & basketball: a case
study on the difference and similarities in leadership and coaching styles between a
basketball coach and a professional basketball coach. Master of
Arts in Corporate and Public Communication. Seton Hall University. South
Orange, NJ, 1-62.
(0)Rotemberg, J. & Saloner, G. (1993). Journal of Management Science, 39, (11), 12991318.
(1-history)Stodgill, R. (1974). Handbook of leadership. New York, NY: Free Press.
Stone, A. G., & Patterson, K. (2005). The history of leadership focus. School of
Leadership Studies. Regent University.
Stone, A. G., Russell, R. F., & Patterson, K. (2004). Transformational versus Servant
Leadership: A difference in leader focus. Leadership & Organization
Development Journal, 25, (4), 349-361.
(charismatic)Takala, T. (1998). Plato on leadership. Journal of Business Ethics, 17, (7),
(2) Warrick, D. D. (1981). Leadership styles and their consequences. Journal of
Experiential Learning and Simulation, 3, (4), 155-172.
Winston, B.E. & Patterson, K. (2006). An integrative definition of leadership.
International Journal of Leadership Studies, 1, (2), 6-66.
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Journal of
Management, 15, (2), 251-289.


The first part of this project will analyze three coaches from different sports,
taking a look at their coaching philosophy and styles, specific methods, systems, and
beliefs that they implemented to be successful. The second part of the project will
compare the three coaches, analyzing and describing what things they all have in
common. Finally, based on the research done on leadership and coaching, I will establish
some things that all coaches can do in order to be successful, no matter what level they
are coaching at.
Part I
Vince Lombardi. Vince Lombardi was one the greatest football coaches in
history. Using an autocratic coaching style, he finished his career with 105 wins, 35
losses, and five ties. He led the Green Bay Packers to win five Super Bowls, having an
overall postseason record of nine victories and only one loss (Lombardi Jr., 2001, p. 3).
Lombardi believed that leadership was extremely important for any organization,
and that the success or failure of an organization depended on the leaders ability to
perform. He believed that leadership is the ability to direct people and have those people
accept and follow that direction. He believed that leadership is not just one quality, but a
blend of many qualities, and while no one individual holds all the needed talents that go
into leadership, everybody has the potential to become a great leader through
commitment, loyalty, and pride (Lombardi, 2001, p. 35).

Vince Lombardi had some definite ideas on what qualities are required to be an
effective leader. He felt that leadership was an evolutionary process that started with selfknowledge. He believed that only by knowing yourself (your principles and values) you
could hope to become an effective leader. Self-knowledge is the first step toward selfimprovement, since you cant improve on something you dont understand (Lombardi,
2001, p. 11).
Once you understand yourself, you can start to grow and develop your character,
along with good habits and competence. For Lombardi, the word character was a standin for things such as belief, courage, sacrifice, hard work, responsibility, mental
toughness, willpower, and discipline. He believed that character was something that
needed to be built and disciplined, and was not inherited (Lombardi, 2001, p. 11).
Character then, is the root of integrity, which provides the foundation of leadership, since
people will not follow leaders who do not act with integrity. Lombardi believed that
effective leadership could not exist without character and integrity (Lombardi, 2001,
Leadership grows out of self-knowledge, character, and integrity. When these
building blocks are in place, a leader can move individuals and organizations. One of the
keys to Lombardis success was his ability to get people to work harder than they thought
they could. He did this through his great energy and commitment (Lombardi Jr., 2001, p.
Regardless of all the criticism that he received throughout his career, Vince
Lombardi always believed in his leadership ability, using the coaching systems he knew
to be successful, never having any doubts, and being consistent through his coaching

career. He always expressed his desire for winning, seeing the pursuit of victory as lifes
greatest challenge. He believed winning was the most important and ultimate goal, and
expressed this belief on several occasions. Lombardi said: Winning isnt everything; its
the only thing, and No leader, however great, can long continue unless he wins battles.
The battle decides it all (Lombardi Jr., 2001, p. 45).
Finally, Lombardi believed that in order to be a great coach, you must have
realistic goals to accomplish, and you must know what those goals look like. Lombardi
The difference between a good coach and an average coach is knowing what you
want, and knowing what the end is supposed to look like. If a coach doesnt know
what the end is supposed to look like, he wont know it when he sees it (Lombardi
Jr., 2001, p. 46).
Phil Jackson. Phil Jackson is considered one of the best coaches in the history of
the NBA. He won 11 NBA Championships, holding the record for the most titles won by
a coach. Furthermore, he also has the highest winning percentage of any NBA coach. Phil
Jacksons unique coaching style differentiates him from most sport coaches (Cormier,
2010, p. 7).
He uses a democratic coaching style, moving away from the dominant
authoritarian style, which is the dominant basketball coaching style. Jackson attempts to
make a strong connection with his players by giving them books as personal presents,
setting a theme for the season, and by utilizing feature film clips to motivate his players.
Furthermore, he also maintains an open line of communication with his players, having a

compassionate and empathetic attitude while still maintaining the overall control and
direction (Cormier, 2010, p. 7).
He also believes strongly in teamwork, emphasizing the attainment of team
growth at the expense of individual dominance. Jackson believes that encouraging a
greater sense of collective consciousness within the team improves its willingness to
make the necessary sacrifices to be successful. Jacksons strong belief in teamwork is one
of the biggest keys to his success. Throughout his career, he has been able to take a group
of talented but diverse individuals and meld them together into a winning team. Through
his time coaching the Bulls and the Lakers, he was able to manage extremely talented
players with renowned egotistical tendencies such as Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman,
Shaquille ONeal, and Kobe Bryant, and make them play for the team (Cormier, 2010, p.
Jacksons belief in teamwork and effort is an important part of the main attacking
system that his teams used, called The Triangle Offense. This offensive system requires
discipline and sacrifice from players, rather than the expression of their individual talent
alone. The Triangle Offense does not just rely on one player, but on the teams energy
and rhythm instead. By using this offensive system, Jackson is emphasizing his
philosophy of teamwork, reinforcing the message that no player is more important than
the team, and only by trusting your teammates can a player achieve true greatness
(Cormier, 2010, p. 7).
Phil Jackson believes that almost all the coaching needs to be done during
practice, and that you should let the players play during the games without much
coaching being involved. He has the ability to intellectually stimulate his team by

enhancing each athletes interest and awareness of possible game situations, which
increases their ability to react to challenges during games. One of the ways in which he
does that is by allowing his players to work through adversity during games without
direct intervention. Jackson is known for deliberately not calling timeouts when his team
is playing poorly, leaving the team to come up with their own solutions so that they can
resolve similar situations in future games. By doing this, players confidence goes up,
since they have more independence and responsibility (Cormier, 2010, p. 8).
Another characteristic that differentiates Jackson from other coaches is his ability
to put winning in perspective. For Jackson, an over emphasis on winning could be
potentially debilitating since the fear of losing can become more destructive for the
players than losing itself. When that happens, players become over anxious, and try to
play safe in order to avoid failure, instead of playing aggressively (Cormier, 2010, p. 8).
Pep Guardiola. Although he was only Barcelonas head coach for four years, Pep
Guardiola is already considered one of the best soccer coaches in history. He was hired as
Barcelonas coach in 2008, after a season where the team had not clinched any titles,
something unusual for a team like Barcelona. Upon being appointed, Guardiola revealed
that Ronaldinho and Deco, two of the best soccer players in the world at the moment,
were not part of his plans for the coming season since they did not fit with the culture that
he was going to implement. Furthermore, he immediately established the philosophy of
using young players from Barcelona B (Barcelonas second team that plays in a lower
division) anytime there was a chance to do so.
In his first season as a coach he won the Spanish League, the Spanish Cup, and
the Champions League, which accredited them as the best team in Europe. By doing that,

Barcelona became the first Spanish club in history to win those three titles in the same
season (the treble). Furthermore, Guardiola became the youngest coach to win a
Champions League title. Guardiola coached Barcelona for another three seasons, before
deciding to leave the club in order to take a sabbatical year away from coaching. During
his four years as Barcelonas coach, he won two Champions Leagues, three Spanish
Leagues, two Spanish Cups, three Spanish Super Cups, two European Super Cups, and
two Club World Cups, becoming the most successful Barcelona coach in history.
Furthermore, during his four years at Barcelona, he was awarded best coach of the year
on two separate occasions (Pereira, 2009, p. 35).
Guardiola has a clear philosophy that has helped Barcelona become one of the
best soccer teams ever. He believes in having control of the ball at all times, being the
team who is passing the ball, as opposed to the team that is running to get the ball. In
order to do that, every player has an important role on the pitch. He believes that you
cannot play good soccer unless you trust your teammates with the ball. Teamwork is
extremely important for Guardiola, and he believes it is not possible to win if teamwork
is lacking. He believes in always playing the same soccer style, no matter who is the
opponent, always being the team who has the most possession. He is consistent in the
way he teaches the sport, always playing the same style with different variations, but the
same overall philosophy. Finally, Guardiola never puts any pressure on his players to win.
He puts pressure on them to work hard, do their best, and play the teams soccer style
(Pereira, 2009, p. 35).
Guardiola understands the importance of leadership. He transmitted to his players
the importance of being humble, no matter how much you win, work hard, and be a great

role model both on and off the pitch. He is very understanding and caring with all his
players, but he also establishes punishments when players break team rules (if you are
late to practice, even if it is only one minute, you must pay 200 euros). Finally, he is a
great motivator, and knows how to inspire his players by showing them motivational
videos before important games. There is a famous video that he showed his players
before they played against Manchester United in the final of the Champions League in
Rome. Guardiola made a video with images of the movie Gladiator mixed with images of
some of the team accomplishments during that season. Barcelona ended up winning that
final 2-0 (Pereira, 2009, p. 36).
Finally, Guardiola was extremely aware of the future. He was always thinking
ahead, and trying to find new strategies and ways to play the sport. After Barcelonas
great success in his first season as a coach, many teams started to figure out Barcelonas
style and it became harder for the team to continue its success. However, he was able to
make adjustments, bringing players up from the B team that had skills that Guardiola
believed the team was lacking, signing players for positions that needed improvement,
switching the team formations, and changing players positions on the pitch. Among
others, he decided to switch Messis position on the pitch, and the player started scoring
more goals after the change. By constantly thinking ahead and preparing for the future,
Guardiola was able to take Barcelonas level to a different dimension, making them one
of the best soccer teams in history (Pereira, 2009, p. 36).
Part II
Despite an incredible amount of literature and research on coaching, there is not a
definitive answer to the most fundamental question: What is the most effective coaching

style in order to consistently produce optimal performance? Unfortunately, there is not a
defined general theory for coaching effectiveness since every sport and every athlete is
different, and there are many levels of competition. There is no set or established plan
that you must follow in order to become a great coach. Vince Lombardi, Phil Jackson,
and Pep Guardiola were all successful in their respective sports using different strategies
they believed would work. However, there are certain characteristics that great coaches
have in common.
Knowledge. In order to be a successful head coach, you must be extremely
knowledgeable about your sport. The majority of successful head coaches were players
before they started coaching, which gives them an understanding of what players go
through during practices, team meetings, and competition. Successful head coaches are
always learning new things about the sport they coach, such as new coaching techniques,
improved communication and leadership skills, and time management. They take as
many formal courses as they can, and they spend great amounts of time looking at books,
videos, and other learning tools that will improve their knowledge. Pep Guardiola is a
great example of a coach who always looked to improve himself, even though he won
every single title in his first season as a Barcelona head coach. He was always looking for
new ways to improve his teams performance through different tactical formations,
innovative practices, and motivation techniques.
Experience. It is impossible to be perfect at something that you have never tried
before. Most successful head coaches have different coaching jobs in the beginning of
their careers to help them gain experience. Lombardi, Jackson, and Guardiola all had
several jobs prior to coaching the teams where they were most successful.

Setting realistic goals. It is impossible to be successful if you do not define
success in advance. Successful coaches set up realistic goals in the post-season, and work
towards those goals during the season. It is very hard to keep athletes motivated if they
do not have an ultimate goal to fight for. According to Lombardi, The difference
between a good coach and an average coach is knowing what you want, and knowing
what the end is supposed to look like. If a coach doesnt know what the end is supposed
to look like, he wont know it when he sees it (Lombardi Jr., 2001, p. 46).
Teamwork. Individuals do not win championships, teams do. Successful coaches
strongly emphasize this. Having players with great individual skills is helpful for teams to
be successful. However, those players must play with the team and for the team in order
for the team to experience success. Phil Jackson has coached two of the best NBA players
in history, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. By making those players understand the
importance of teamwork and unselfish play, Jackson was able to win several
championships with both the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. Pep Guardiola is
another great example of the importance of teamwork in coaching. He did not hesitate to
get rid of two star players when he took the job at Barcelona, since he did not believe
those players would be beneficial for the overall success of the team.
Furthermore, he made some adjustments to the position of the teams best player,
Messi, in order to improve the teams performance. Messi has won the award of best
player of the year every year since Guardiola took the job at Barcelona. While his
performance has been outstanding in Barcelona, Messi has not shined as much with his
national team Argentina, which proves the importance the head coach has on the success
of players and teams.

Feedback. Great coaches understand and value the importance of feedback from
their players. Having an open line of communication is important for success. While the
head coach will ultimately be the one making the final decision, it is important for a
coach to know how the players feel, and what the coach can do better in order to help
them improve their performance. Phil Jackson is known for making a strong personal
connection with his players, building a mutual trust, and together finding a way to
improve overall performance.
Consistency. Successful coaches are consistent. They develop a coaching style
that is consistent with their personality and takes advantage of their unique strengths, and
follow that coaching style throughout their careers. While some minor changes might be
made to coaching styles, the overall coaching philosophy stays the same throughout their
Consistency is the most important characteristic that all successful coaches have
in common. While their coaching philosophies were different, Lombardi, Jackson, and
Guardiola all had a defined coaching philosophy and they stayed with that philosophy
until the end. Having a defined coaching philosophy and style is the most important thing
in order to be a successful coach. No matter what your coaching philosophy is, you must
be consistent with it if you want to achieve success. Having a defined system of work is
extremely important to keep consistency within your team and your coaching staff.
Everybody on the team, from the head coach to the trainers must know what the coaching
philosophy and styles are, and must follow them in order to achieve success.
Conclusion. It takes a great amount of time, dedication, and effort to become a
great coach. Successful coaches work extremely hard, take chances, and love and respect

the game and the profession. They make a commitment to learning, and take advantage of
their experiences. They work with the team by setting realistic goals for the season, and
they value feedback. Finally, successful coaches are consistent. They have a defined
coaching philosophy that they follow under any circumstances since they believe that is
what will make the team successful.


Cornier, J. (2010). Transformational leadership in professional coaches. MET LD 705
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Lombardi V. Jr., (2001). What it takes to be # 1. Vince Lombardi on leadership. New
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Pereira, J. (2009). Pep Guardiola, the calm leader. Human Capital, 234, 34-4