Leadership in sport


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  • This presentation aims to critically examine the statement that a sport group is merely the collection of a number of individuals and the leader is the most dominant individual.
  • What follows over the next few slides are some definitions to help orientate us to the concepts of ‘group’ and ‘leadership’. Hagger and Chatzisarantis have defined a group as comprising one or more people, involving interaction between people, having some form of goal orientation common to all members and having a specific set of structures and norms.
  • It should be mentioned of course that there is still no clear agreement amongst academics and practitioners about what leadership is or how to define it. Leadership has been studied for generations and literally thousands of studies have been done. In 1974, Stogdill, for example, analyzed almost 5,000 studies of leadership and concluded that “the endless accumulation of empirical data has not produced an integrated understanding of leadership” [in Rost, 1991]. I am not convinced that the picture has become any clearer in the 38 years since Stogdill undertook this work.
  • Despite this lack of clarity it does seem possible to find some common ground amongst definitions, at least to allow an exploration of the question at hand. Leadership seems to be required when individuals or groups have a common goal to achieve. The act of leadership seems to be about assisting in the pursuit of these goals, particularly when decisions are required, such as team selection in sport for example. Leadership and group theory appear to be closely related since leadership happens in the context of a group. Leadership, therefore, is a very relevant topic for the sporting domain.
  • It is worth remembering that what we want from individuals or teams in a sport is performance outcomes, however these are defined. This is an important point to bear in mind as we move forward in the presentation, as leadership must be helpful in supporting the achievement of performance outcomes for it to remain a useful concept in sport.
  • Chelladurai has gone on to define what kinds of behaviours are most useful for leaders in sporting environments to display. These include creating a vision, engaging in inspiring communication and making these communications individual, as well as knowing when to be demanding and directive.
  • I believe we need to challenge the idea that leadership is a single-handed, heroic performance that is the property of that individual and move to a new paradigm where leadership is viewed as being socially-constructed with followers in a context [Sinclair, 2007].
  • Leadership in the real world, it seems, works as a web of inter-connected activities from people in the system. There can be no single dominant leader with all others subordinate to this role. Many people are required to provide leadership at different times.
  • Distributed leadership [Spillane, 2005] is an emerging theory that could prove helpful in furthering our understanding of the complex nature of leadership in sport groups. As the name suggests, it proposes that leadership is distributed across many people in the group. Leadership in this theory emerges out of interactions between leaders, followers and situations. ‘Leadership’, therefore, is different from ‘leader’ and is a property of the interaction, not a skill to be learnt. In this model of thinking, context is not independent of human agency, and cannot be assessed as ‘true’ or ‘fact’, but rather the context is actively constructed by the members of the group including the leader [Grint, 2005]. It is important to note that there is still little empirical evidence in support of this theory with only a handful of studies being viewed as robust [Bennett et al, 2003], however it certainly warrants further exploration.
  • To conclude by returning back to the original statement in this presentation, it does not appear to me that a sport group is merely the collection of a number of individuals and the leader the most dominant individual. The idea of there being a single leader of a sport group appears to be an oversimplification. Furthermore, it seems that the importance of the coach in the achievement of results has been overstated. And finally, it has been proposed that leadership may be more helpfully thought of as being distributed across many individuals within a sport group.
  • References Bass, B. M., & Avolio, B. J. (1994). Improving organisational effectiveness through transformational leadership. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Bennett, N., Wise, C., Woods, P. A., & Harvey, J. A. (2003). Distributed leadership: A review of literature. National college for school leadership. Bridgewater, S. (2010). What is the impact of changing football manager? In Football management, Palgrave. Retrieved 7 March 2012 from http://www.wbs.ac.uk/downloads/news/2009/10/what-is-the-impact-of-changing-football-manag.pdf.Bridgewater, S. (2007). Football league management trends. Report for League Managers Association.Carron, A. (1982). Cohesiveness in sports groups: Interpretations and considerations. Journal of sport psychology, 4(2), 131.Chelladurai, P. (2007). Leadership in sports. In Tenenbaum, G. & Eklund, R. C. (Eds.), Handbook of sport psychology (pp. 113-135). New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.Chemers, M. M. (1997). An integrative theory of leadership. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Dweck, C. S. (2008). Can personality be changed? The role of beliefs in personality and change. Current directions in psychological science, 17(6), 391-394.Forsyth, D. R. (2010). Group dynamics (5th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.Grint, K. (2005). Problems, problems, problems: The social construction of ‘leadership’. Human relations, 58(11), 1467-1494.Hagger, M. & Chazitarantis, N. (2005). The social psychology of exercise and sport. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Kotlyar, I. & Karakowsky, L. (2007). Falling over ourselves to follow the leader: Conceptualizing connections between transformational leader behaviors and dysfunctional team conflict. Journal of leadership & organizational studies, 14(1), 38-49.Riemer, H. A. (2007). Multidimensional model of leadership. In Jowett, S., & Lavallee, D. (Eds.), Social psychology in sport (pp. 57-73). Champaign IL: Human Kinetics.Rost, J. C. (1991). Leadership for the twenty-first century. Westport CT: Praeger.Sinclair, A. (2007). Leadership for the disillusioned: Moving beyond myths and heroes to leading that liberates. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.Spillane, J. P. (2005). Distributed leadership. The educational forum, 69, 143-150. Retrieved 7 March 2012 from http://www.coe.iup.edu/principal/Spring%202012%20Articles/Spillane.pdfTurman, P. D. (2003). Coaches and cohesion: The impact of coaching techniques on team cohesion in the small group sport setting. Journal of sport behaviour, 26(1).Voight, M., & Callaghan, J. (2001). A team building intervention program: Application and evaluation with two university soccer teams. Journal of sport behavior, 24, 420-431.Weinberg, R. S. & Gould, D. (2011). Foundations of sport and exercise psychology (5th Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  • Leadership in sport

    1. 1. A sport group is merely the collection of a number ofindividuals and the leader is the most dominant individual Richard Fryer MSc Sport & Exercise Psychology 2012 1
    2. 2. What am I going to conclude? There has been too much focus on ‘The Coach’1 as being ‘The Leader’ and this seems to be an oversimplification of what happens in sports groups. More emphasis needs to be placed on the group and2 situational or contextual factors Distributed leadership offers some useful ideas3 about where research could be focused in the future 2
    3. 3. What is a group?• A group comprises one or more people, involves interaction between people, demands an awareness of some form of common fate or goals, has a specific structure known to all members, and group norms. – Hagger & Chatzisarantis (2005) 3
    4. 4. What is leadership?• Some definitions are about leadership as a directive role i.e. – The behaviour of an individual while he is involved in directing group activities (Hemphill, 1949)• Others define leadership as a social process i.e. – Leadership is a process of social influence in which one person is able to enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task (Chemers, 1997) 4
    5. 5. Is there a clear definition?• Leadership as a concept has been researched and written about for generations.• There still is no clear agreement or consensus about what it is or how to define ‘it’. 5
    6. 6. Some common ground…• Leadership seems to be required when individuals and/or groups have goals to achieve.• Leadership seems to be about assisting in the pursuit of these goals, particularly through decision-making.• Leadership theory and group theory appear to be very closely related.• Leadership is therefore still a relevant topic for the sporting domain. 6
    7. 7. What is it we want from individuals and/or groups in sport? PERFORMANCE* OUTCOMES * However this is defined e.g. winning, personal best 7
    8. 8. A conceptual framework for the study of sport groups Member Individual Attributes Outcomes Group Group Group Structure Cohesion Processes L L Group TeamEnvironment Outcomes Carron & Hausenblas (1998) L Leadership related factors 8
    9. 9. Team cohesion = better performance (or is that: better performance = team cohesion?) 9
    10. 10. Factors influencing cohesion PersonalTeam Environmental Leadership Carron (1982) 10
    11. 11. The transformational leaderIdealized Inspirational Intellectual IndividualisedInfluence Motivation Stimulation Consideration Bass & Avolio (1994) • Instils pride • Encourages members to go above and beyond • Promotes confidence in ability to achieve goals • Research mostly limited to individual followers rather than teams – can create disproportional team conflict 11
    12. 12. Transformational leaders in sport (The ‘Supercoach’)Football Rugby League American Football Jose Mourinho Wayne Bennett Vince LombardiRugby RowingUnion Football Graham Henry Alex Ferguson Jurgen Grobler 12
    13. 13. Multidimensional Model of Leadership (Chelladurai, 1990) REQUIRED Antecedents BEHAVIOUR OF SITUATION Characteristics of the: - Situation Balance - Leader of all 3 - Members of COACHES = satisfaction COACHES the group PREFERRED = performance PERCEIVED BEHAVIOUR BEHAVIOURThe MML proposes that group performance and member satisfaction aredependent upon the congruency of required, preferred, and perceivedleader behaviours 13
    14. 14. Transformational leadership skills for coaches (Chelladurai, 2007)• Creating a vision• Engaging in inspiring communication• Individualising communication• Knowing when to be demanding and directive 14
    15. 15. Is the role of the coach overstated? 15
    16. 16. Trapdoors and Honeymoons Tottenham Hotspur FC 1992 – 2008 16
    17. 17. Did this only happen at Spurs? All Premier League Football Clubs 1992 – 2008 17
    18. 18. Challenging the ‘single leader’ assumption Leadership is a Leadership is single-handed, socially-constructed heroic performance with followers in a that is the property context of the individual Sinclair (2007) 18
    19. 19. Who is the leader? GB Rowing Example Athlete Greg SearleTeam Director Men’s coach Eight’s coach David Tanner Jurgen Grobler Mark Banks Eight’s cox Eight’s stroke Phelan Hill Dan Ritchie 19
    20. 20. Who is the leader?Leadership Athlete Coach Manager Captain Many people providing leadership when required. Not just one leader 20
    21. 21. Distributed Leadership Spillane (2005)• Wide range of individuals and groups are brought into leadership (not just one coach).• Leadership practice is though of as a product of the interactions of leaders, followers and situations• This, therefore, is an interactive, rather than leader-based perspective• Early days – little empirical evidence 21
    22. 22. Is a sport group merely the collection of anumber of individuals and the leader the most dominant individual? It doesn’t appear so• The idea of there being a single leader of a sport group seems to be an oversimplification.• The importance of the coach is perhaps overstated at the expense of contextual factors such as available resources.• Leadership may be more helpfully thought of as being distributed across many individuals within a sport group. 22
    23. 23. References• See notes.• The author can be contacted at the following: – rfryer75@gmail.com 23