What makes an effective leader in sports?
Chapter Six contained article on ‘Leadership Effectiveness and Decision Making in Coaches’ by Murray, Mann and Mead. There is no specific meaning of leadership however the articles cited leadership by scholars as “the behavioral process of influencing the activities of an organized group toward specific goals and the achievement of those goals”. However, some will simply define it as “the process whereby an individual influences others to do what he or she wants them to do”. The article then summarized leadership as “the art and science of influencing others with credibility, capability and commitment”. Studies have been conducted to identify whether leadership is a behavior or something that you were born with. From there, many leadership theories emerged. The first theory is trait theory or the trait approach. The trait approach focuses on the dispositional or behavior that associated with a given trait that can vary from situation to situation but individuals tends to keep the same relative position. Research claimed that coaches are highly authoritarian. However, authoritarian attitude like avoid introspection, approve severe punishment, prejudices and et cetera is ineffective in improving the athletes’ performance in sports. John Gardner in his book listed down qualities of an effective leader but that however, doesn’t mean that a leader needs to posses all traits listed to be regarded as an effective leader. An effective leader should have qualities such as (as proposed by Gardner); have strong physical vitality and stamina, intelligent and action oriented, eager to accept
responsibility, task competence, understanding, have the skill in dealing with people, have the need of achievement, can motivate people, have courage and resolution, trustworthy, decisive, self-confidence, assertive and finally adaptability or flexibility. Scholars however failed to find a specific trait that attribute to leadership but it is integrated with situational factors and other influences. Behavioral theories examine the behaviors of leaders and their relationship with the group members. There are two behaviors that are considered to be effective for leader and the group members; (1) consideration which involves mutual trust and respect for and attention to the feelings and ideas of others and (2) initiating structures is where a leader is active in directing group activities, communicating, scheduling and
experimenting with new ideas. Most effective leader will be a leader who scores high on employee centered behavior and production centered behavior (high initiating structure). Another behavior that can lead to n effective leadership is person-oriented behaviors where a coach gives out
encouragement, positive feedback, exhibited social support and et cetera. Situational theorists examine the factors like characteristics of followers, the organizational situation and the demands of the situation. According to Fiedler, “personalities and situations should be matched and congruent for maximum leadership effectiveness”. In other words, the leader would alter his personality to suit the situation (situation-specific theories) or the leader
changes the situation. Another theory under the situational approach is the pat-goal theory where the leader helps others to achieve their goals. Situational theory finally concluded that flexibility is the best characteristic to be an effective leader. Role theory on the other hand proposes the idea of each members take on specific position and act according to the role. This model examines the quality of the relationship between leader and follower. Transformational leadership theory is when a leader can transform his vision by communicating it to others and make them committed to the vision. To do this, a leader must have charisma that will inspire and influence others to look at the same vision. Transactional theory on the other hand is closely related to management rather than leadership. Transactional leadership involves the relationship between leader-worker “which rewards are provided or punishment is withheld, in return for performance”. Studies show that leader-centered behavior is more common that follower-centered behavior. In fact,
transformational leadership behavior is reported to be the most successful in improving sports performance.