What factors contribute to make a successful leader and how might your style of leadership vary to be successful when involved in individual, racket and team activities? Barrow (1977) described leadership as “the behavioural process influencing individuals and groups towards set goals. ” This idea is supported by the description of leadership given in “Physical Education and the study of sport”. Which states that “leadership is the process by which a particular individual fulfils the expectations of a group or team and develops an environment in which the group is motivated, rewarded and help to achieve its goals.
” Who are the best leaders forms a controversial issue, with answers ranging from Hitler to Martin Luther King, but good leadership qualities often include; enthusiasm, good communication skills, high motivation and charisma. This essay will discuss what makes a leader successful and how leadership styles vary and change depending on the circumstances under which a coach is training. There are many factors contributing to what makes a leader successful, but they can be summarised into three main points as stated by Chelladurais multi dimensional model of leadership.
The leaders characteristics and style, the situation itself (the size and nature of the group) and the members characteristics in terms of their expectations and preferred style of leadership. This is shown in the model below taken from “Physical Education and the Study of Sport” Fielder’s contingency model of leadership looks at the way the leader interacts with the situation; he defined leadership using two different classifications. Leaders can adopt either style but the majority of people prefer person-orientated leaders, although the style of leadership will depend on what Fielder called “situation favourableness”.
He stated that a leader would be most effective as a person orientated leader when the situation is moderately favourable, and as a task orientated leader when the situation is unfavourable or highly favourable. This can be defined by the following graph also from “Physical Education and the Study of Sport”. Chelladurai’s research into leadership styles gives us a general idea of what athletes prefer. The graph below taken from “Advanced Physical and Sport” Chelladurais five categories of leadership and how popular they are. However, this graph is only a generalisation, therefore some things need to be considered in more specificity.
The type of sport that is being played is important when considering which style of leadership to use. Team games require the individual team members to rely on eachother, as these sports are interdependent. Research has shown that players in team sports look for a captain who is directive and uses authority to structure the group in order to achieve the team’s ambitions. For example a Premiership football team would benefit from an authoritarian approach to leadership because the coach needs to be in control and cannot be seen to favour one player over another; a situation that could arise from a more democratic approach.
The size of the team also makes it difficult for democratic leadership to be successful as there may be conflicting views within the team, or players could become too comfortable with eachother to give constructive criticism. This is why in the majority of cases an authoritarian approach is taken to team games. Although it is still important to consider the expectations of the team, especially if the leader is “prescribed” by someone outside of the team. Prescribed leaders are appointed form an external source to a team; they may face resistance, as many teams become resilient to change.
It is also important for coaches of teams to give training and instruction as well as rewards. When considering individual sports such as athletics or swimming a more person orientated approach is preferred as athletes favour a democratic style of leadership as this provides them with the social support they need. Athletes want a coach to focus on technical and tactical aspects in which the coach will give them plentiful feedback and rewards. They feel that an autocratic approach does not demonstrate an awareness of the athletes needs and wants.
As it is only one person the coach is considering it is easier to take their needs and preferences into consideration. For example a hurdler will need to have a good relationship with his or her coach in order to be able to discuss race tactics and to be able to convey his/ her expectations from a coach. An authoritarian style of leadership may make a coach seem unapproachable and therefore cause a difficult situation for the athlete. Racket sports can be viewed the same way as an individual sport, however there are other factors that need to be examined when assessing which leadership style is the most appropriate.
For example a novice squash player would benefit from a more democratic leadership style with rewards given; beginners may become daunted, or scared off the sport if introduced to it with an authoritarian approach. A male tennis player would prefer an authoritarian based leadership style whereas females perform better under a democratic style. Racket sports require constructive feedback from a coach and also need to be discussed tactically with the coach; in this case the style leadership should be carefully chosen depending on the experience and personal preferences of the player.
Overall there is no single characteristic that defines a good leader, and many leaders will be equally successful but for different reasons. Leadership is a very complex area because there is no set leadership style that is successful, a good leader depends on many factors which all interact with eachother. When reviewing which style of leadership to use all these factors must be considered in order to be successful, these factors include the leaders own personality, the situation itself, and the individuals preference.
The style that is most used is the democratic style, this is because the majority of people prefer to be included in decisions and perform best under a person orientated approach that is associated with the democratic style of leadership. However the most effective type of leadership depends on the circumstantial factors surrounding the coach. A good leader will positively affect the performance of the group or individual whereas a bad leader will inhibit a performance and demotivate teams / individuals which is why it is important for a leader to consider all the factors in order to gain the tryst and support of who they are training.