Sample Essay on What qualities are needed to make a good leader?

Leadership

Brief overview

In sports, any successful team will in most cases have a viable and strong leadership structure and policy grounded within its culture. The importance of the role of leadership theories is manifest in all categories of sports. The performance of a leader is very integral to the team success especially in interactive sports and during crucial moments. Although less apparent in co-active circumstances, a sport leader’s influence to the efficacy of a team’s performance is also very dominant. Leadership maybe deliberated as a largely interactive factor that impacts entities and personalities towards the attainment of set purposes and aims in sports. As such, a sports leader has a twofold responsibility of guaranteeing players gratification while directing the individuals or groups to successful sports endeavors. The theories discussed in this paper are crucial in offering significant insight into the reasons for the various actions and decisions of a sport leader.

Description of all theories

  1. Great man leadership theory

This theory asserts that leaders are born just for the purpose of leading their followers (Bischoff, 2010). This can be ascertained through the various actions of ‘great minds and men’ who are believed to have exercised the highest levels of influence on their subjects. This they did through their intrinsic charisma, inner drive and aptitude (Bischoff, 2010).

Advantages

The primary assumption under this type of leadership is that the traits of a leader are purely intrinsic and these great leaders are ‘born’ to lead and were predestined at birth to become leaders (Bischoff, 2010). These leaders have the ability to rise to any occasion and provide unique solutions to difficult situations (Bischoff, 2010). The great man theory also stresses on the significance of possessing wisdom in analyzing various organization circumstances.

Weak point

While some scholars support the assertions of the great man theory, others believes that even those inclined to leadership positions could not have been successful or influential without the support of some inherent environmental conditions. To such scholars, these ‘great minds’ are products of their environments rather than being inborn talents (Bischoff, 2010). These leaders could not be influential without the control of their socio-economic circumstances. That is, the significance of nature and nurture in shaping these great leaders cannot be ignored at all (Bischoff, 2010). One outspoken critic of the great man theory is Herbert Spencer who affirmed that this theory was a simple product of time and actions of such leaders could be attributed to their social conditions.

Implications for sport management

Essentially, the great man flair of leadership implies that making of virtually all important decisions is reserved for the leader. However, it lays emphasis on completing the assigned task as quickly and effectively as possible (Light, Gardner, Light, & Bostro, 1997). This leadership style is ‘authoritative’ as almost all decisions are made by the ‘great’ team leader. In most cases, the preferences of the team members are not taken into account; neither are the opinions, goals and interests of the group (Light, Gardner, Light, & Bostro, 1997).

  1. Trait theory

Trait theory stresses that individuals are either born or imparted with specific qualities that make them successful in their respective leadership positions (Bischoff, 2010). That is, such admirable values as intelligence, being responsible and creativity among others are as a result of individual traits.

Advantages

The primary focus of this theory is the analysis of rational, physical and social features in gaining more insight and comprehending various characteristics (Bischoff, 2010). According to this theory, ‘traits of leaders’ are significantly different from those of ‘non-leaders’ who are generally born possessing these qualities and not made.

Weak point

Critics of trait theory assert that the unique abilities of a particular leader are not taken into consideration when explaining type of leadership theory (Bischoff, 2010). These unique leadership abilities can also be attributed to a particular setting that nurtures these leaders to be who they really are is a socio-economic system.

Implications for sport management

In any viable team, different players are viewed to be more gifted or talented in particular ways compared to other players (Light, Gardner, Light, & Bostro, 1997). The ability of a leader to identify such talents, intelligence and encouraging creativity will in the long run benefit the team. Any team leader that is assumed to be intrinsically gifted will in most instances derive the best out of their players.

  1. Participative leadership theory

This theory, postulated by Likert, is a proposition of diverse leadership styles including individual’s ability to consult on certain issues (Bischoff, 2010). Participative leader will aim at ‘leading from the front’ so as to instill a culture of self-belief and commitment in among the subordinates.

Advantages

These types of leaders thrive in taking into consideration diverse inputs and advice from other team players when making crucial decisions (Bischoff, 2010). Such a leader listens to the players keenly, bond with them and take their varied views into consideration when making final decisions.

Weak point  

Critics to this theory point at the inability of these participative leaders to accommodate certain thoughts and feelings of their subjects (Bischoff, 2010). In any organizational system or structure, divergence in opinions is a normal occurrence and so is the probability of a participative leader accepting such differences in opinions is very unlikely.

Implications for sport management

A participative leader, for instance, in a soccer team, will always aim at seeking the input and advice of the management team and players when making decisions on which players to field in a particular match (Light, Gardner, Light & Bostro, 1997). They involve the whole team in every decision they make and will always take responsibility and blame in case of any failure or misunderstanding. The most efficacious teams will have a ‘strong’ leader whose task is very clear and understood by all the players. The relationship between such leaders and the players is in most cases is positive with a higher level of commitment (Light, Gardner, Light, & Bostro, 1997).

  1. Situational leadership theory

This theory avows that ‘best’ leaders are those who choose the best course of action depending on the variables that are necessary for the transformation of various institutional circumstances (Bischoff, 2010). Proponents of this theory argue that leasers should be in a position to establish their preferred leadership characteristics based on the predisposed level of maturity of the subjects.

Advantages

The theory proposes a division of various leadership characteristics into different facets (Bischoff, 2010). These facets include giving directions, coaching, giving special support, and delegating certain responsibilities to the team members. Decisions based on this leadership style are made grounded on the innate situation facing the team (Bischoff, 2010). Situational leaders are viewed as flexible given their capacity to blend to any challenging circumstance.

Weak point

The theory asserts that the ‘best’ style of leadership is to be effective and to be in a position to transform and be adaptive to their techniques depending on the situation or team they are involved with (Bischoff, 2010). However, the theory fails to stipulate the relevant procedures that are requisite in instilling the best form of leadership among the team members.

Implications for sport management

In sports, situational leadership is most efficient given the instantaneous decisions that the leaders are sometimes forced to make (Light, Gardner, Light, & Bostro, 1997). For instance, in football team, a team manager may be called upon to make rush but productive decision on whether to change to a form of play or to substitute a player depending on the score line and the intensity of the game (Light, Gardner, Light, & Bostro, 1997). The decision to be made is subject to a particular situation that the team may found itself in and the ability of such leaders to discern and make viable solutions will determine the success or failure of the squad. The playing formation that will be adopted by the leader (team coach) will depend fundamentally on the ‘favorableness’ of the situation.

  1. Contingency theory of leadership

This theory holds that there is no particular way of providing guidance and that every single control mechanism should be based on the circumstances (Bischoff, 2010). According to proponents of this theory, a specific background determine what leadership strategies best fits a precise situation (Bischoff, 2010). This shows that there are certain persons who can only achieve at their extreme aptitudes when taken out of their essentials or comfort zone.

Advantages

This theory asserts that certain human characteristics are related to the circumstances in which leaders may be obliged to exercise their potentials (Bischoff, 2010). The theory also avows that leaders are more likely to be more expressive of their leadership credentials when they feel their subjects will be more receptive to their ideals.

Weak point

Critics to this theory argue that determining whether a leader is favorable for a given responsibility is very difficult (Bischoff, 2010). This is because establishing a favorable match when assigning tasks or when making certain crucial decisions can be challenging. For instance, a leader with the strict and unpredictable attitude may lack the creative cognition of situations and collaboration from the team (Bischoff, 2010).

Implications for sport management

This theory is significant in sport management as it stresses on the implication of a leader making decisions based on predisposition and intuition (Light, Gardner, Light, & Bostro, 1997). A football team coach, based on this theory, is allowed to make decisions on the type of formation to play if there is surety that the players will be more receptive of the decision (Light, Gardner, Light, & Bostro, 1997). Such a leader should be in a position to analyze players and establish the type of formation that best suit each and every one of them.

  1. Transactional leadership theory

This theory is characterized by a range of transactions that are made between leaders and their subjects to help in propagating the achievements of various development agendas (Bischoff, 2010). This theory stresses on the value of optimistic and mutual valuable rapport between the lead and the cohorts.

Advantages

The theory further proposes that leaders should maximize their pleasurable proficiencies that are necessary in diminishing any ‘un-pleasurable’ experiences (Bischoff, 2010). The core to success is to be in association with such individuals that add to the strength and capabilities of the team.

Weak point

For the effectiveness of this theory, a leader ought to possess certain motivational values and align these values with those of the followers which may be missing (Bischoff, 2010). That is, a transactional leader is most efficient when they establish a mutual relationship and reinforce a setting where individuals and the team objectives are in sync.

Implications for sport management

In sport management, this theory is very explicit on the importance of developing a close relationship between the team players and the management team (Shields, Gardner, Bredemeier, & Bostrom, 1997). For example, a soccer coach with a well-defined and comprehensive relationship between the players will most likely derive the best out of the squad and achieve the ultimate team objectives.

  1. Transformational leadership theory

The theory states that the processes used by an individual to interact with other team members determine the creation of solid relationships (Hall, 2013). The result of this is a relatively increased level of trust between the leader and the followers and consequently, increased motivation. The essence of this leadership theory is to allow leaders to transform their subjects through their inspirational nature and enigmatic personalities (Hall, 2013). Such types off leaders are very flexible with their rules and principles and are strictly guided by team norms. These attributes are necessary in providing a sense of belonging for the subjects as they can easily identify with the leaders and their purposes to the team (Hall, 2013).

Advantages

Through this theory, viable and long-term changes are instituted into the organizational designs, and both the leader and the subject are under obligation to subscribe to such changes (Hall, 2013). Both the leader and the followers elevate one another towards the achievement of set aims based on higher moral and ethical levels (Hall, 2013). The subordinates are motivated by concentrating on common purposes, referring to the intrinsic rewards and self-actualization.

Weak point

The theory does not explain how this ‘deep and lasting commitment’ can be derived from the followers who may be having diverse opinions and ideas on how the team should achieve its objectives (Hall, 2013). According to critics, this theory is not very explicit on the type of relationship that exists between the leaders and the followers (Hall, 2013). This relation in not define since there is no explicit assertion on the consequences associated with failure to subscribe to team norms.

Implications for sport management

A transformational leader will be most effective in dealing with both the most auspicious and least promising circumstances compared to other leaders employing other form of leadership. This type of leader is able to adjust to various play formation, for instance, in a soccer team (Charbonneau, Barling, & Kelloway, 2001). The principal goal for such leaders is the eventual reward that is associated with winning a game. They are willing to subscribe to any form of change as long as they will be in a position to achieve the set aims based on feasible ethical standards that are acceptable to all.

  1. Path-goal leadership theory

The theory is based on the assumption that followers will draw motivation based on a number of inherent conditions (Hall, 2013). These conditions include a special belief on their ability to deliver from the management, self-beliefs on personal efforts that are likely to result into favorable outcomes and the fundamental belief that the outcomes will be worth the effort.

Advantages

The primary focus of this theory is for the leaders to make the team members feel that they can achieve the predetermined goals (Hall, 2013). Improving the number of payoffs, being explicit on the intended goals, eliminating potential obstacles, and ensuring a satisfying work setting are some of the crucial facets of this theory.

Weak point

Critics point at the inadequate scientific backing of the path-goal leadership theory (Hall, 2013). In addition, given that it is a relatively old theory, some critics question the relevance of this theory to the current institutional settings.

Implications for sport management

The characteristic belief stipulated under this theory is that by giving team players ‘ownership’ of the responsibility, the level of commitment of the group increase as they will work even harder, become more united and strive to attain a common purpose. This style of leadership would be most dynamic in a ‘co-active’ sport and when there is a time constraint on a task that is not exerting to perform. In such instances, players will require personal support as a motivation to perform especially if the squad is relatively small, and when they are in an autonomous stage of growth and development learning with an aspiration to achieve elite level.

  1. Servant leadership theory

This leadership theory stresses on the significance of focusing on the followers rather than on the leaders. It calls on those in leadership positions to pay particular attention to the needs, requirements, and inspirations of the subjects. Such leaders should be more focused on their subordinates, listen, show more empathy and be well informed of their diverse situations (Hall, 2013). In addition, such leaders should be more persuasive, conceptualize and show commitment to team growth and development. A servant leader should be more obvious and principled when faced with difficult situations (Hall, 2013).

Advantages

A servant leader will be better placed to create a special relationship with the subjects by encouraging them to be free-willed and optimistic in their endeavors (Hall, 2013). The primary desire for a servant leader is to provide utmost enthusiasm and commitment towards the instituting of a visionary team (Hall, 2013). The directions and decisions servant leaders set out are aimed at assisting the subordinates to accomplish the aspirations and growth of the team.

Weak point

Critics of this theory assert that building such kind of trust and ethical relationship between the leader and the followers is undeniably challenging (Hall, 2013).

Implications for sport management

Essentially, the servant leadership theory tends to be ‘freer’ in sharing the decisions made with the team and such a leader is often ready to delegate duty to other junior members of the team. This form of leadership thrives on consultations and is mostly concerned with the growth and development of meaningful interactive relationships within the team. The leader feels more responsible for any failure and is always ready to intervene towards ensuring that the decision made best fits the aspirations of all team members.

  1. Implicit leadership theory

This theory emphasizes the inherent ideas and concepts developed by individuals spinning around own beliefs and conventions on effective leadership (Hall, 2013). The theory stresses on individual perception of various experiences and the determination of the ‘right’ course of action when faced with various situations.

Advantages

This theory is important in helping an individual in a position of leadership to self-define and to help the followers comprehend such leadership credentials (Hall, 2013). The theory also asserts that effective leadership is shaped by outside beliefs, tenets, and persona traits making an individual in a leadership position to best define the situation.

Weak point

Given that this theory is based on self-belief and notions on effective leadership, the analysis of leadership experiences and influences on the subordinates is not explicitly explained.

Implications for sport management

Implicit style of leadership is very explicit on its assertions and relations to sport management (Barrett, & Sutcliffe, 2003). Any leader in sports who is willing to step aside and allow the team to make own independent decisions on their preferred formation and style of play can be described as implicit leader. The primary objective is to instill a sense of self-belief among all players and management team (Barrett, & Sutcliffe, 2003). In addition, this style of leadership can happen spontaneously especially when the intensity of the game increases. Such leaders must be available just in case their valuable input is needed as their absence may result into a potential loss of team direction and leadership vacuum especially if the leader is insufficient (Barrett, & Sutcliffe, 2003). As most scholars ascertain, when a soccer team, for example, is subjected to this style of leadership, the team members will be inclined to be more aggressive towards each other and not to give up straight easily when slipups occur.

  1. Authentic leadership theory

This theory stresses on the demonstration of a pattern of behaviors that are crucial in promoting a healthy working environment (Hall, 2013). The theory emphasizes on the importance of instilling mental and physical fortes among the subordinates to help in accomplishing team objectives.

Advantages

The theory is crucial in creating a virtuous climate that is transparent based on set moral codes and standards (Hall, 2013). In addition, the theory fosters a culture of self-awareness among the personnel with strong grounding on ethical perceptions.

Weak point

The theory does not explain the role of general management is fostering these crucial moral obligations among team members (Hall, 2013). This is because most management teams are solely concerned with making profits even at the expense of the personnel. Such leadership pays little focus on employee motivation and retaining the productive team members.

Implications for sport management

The authentic leader will delegate responsibility and focus on group performance and achievement of team’s aims and purposes (Barrett, & Sutcliffe, 2003). Such a leader will concentrate on creating a cohesive working environment that is accommodative of individual performance and abilities (Barrett, & Sutcliffe, 2003). A team leader will seek to instill a culture of self-belief so as to improve the conceptual and physical strength of individuals within the team. In essence, this style of leadership will be most effective when prompt and hasty decisions are needed for the entire team (Barrett, & Sutcliffe, 2003). For instance, a decision to encourage particular players or the whole team during warm up sessions to remain focused when facing teams that are more hostile. Such leaders will encourage the team to remain disciplined in such crucial situations and to focus on the achievement of team objectives.

  1. Charismatic leadership theory

Postulated by sociologist Max Weber, this theory stresses on a leader who is devoted and is of exceptional character based on individual features (Hall, 2013). Varied personal characteristics are responsible for making leaders to be more attractive and charismatic with individuals naturally inclined to follow their lead.

Advantages

This type of leadership is crucial in developing loyalty and commitment among team members. This is because it is based on encouraging devotion and heroism among individual players (Hall, 2013).

Weak point

This type of leadership style is less stable as a team can easily be dissolved in the absence of a leader or even when some of the stipulated leadership credentials are questioned (Hall, 2013).

Implications for sport management

This style of leadership is characterized by various positive aspects that are very important in exercising leadership on a large-scale sporting proceeding (Barrett, & Sutcliffe, 2003). For example, the inherent ability to motivate players to perform while on and off the field of play, fashioning a smart vision to adhere to, and nurturing commitment and teamwork among players. In essence, this theory is a relatively full reflection of the various aspirations of the large-scale sport stakeholders who are more concerned with performance (Barrett, & Sutcliffe, 2003).

The theory is a showcase of the varied qualities that have varied multiple linkages to other leadership theories relevant in sport management (Barrett, & Sutcliffe, 2003). A charismatic sport leader will in most instances intervene based on a number of variables, for instance, higher level commitment to execution of tasks, and the ability and clarity of different roles in the team (Barrett, & Sutcliffe, 2003). In addition, such a leader will articulate organization of the tasks, instill cooperation and mutual trust, aggregate team resources and be supportive among other external synchronization.

Relevant questionnaire to measure leadership in sport management (click on the relevant box)

Notably, the primary objective of this sample questionnaire is to provide an insight into the varied definitions and views on leadership styles in sport management.

Statements  Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree
The players need to be supervised closely and constantly or they are not likely to do perform their responsibilities          
Players should be included in the decision-making processes          
In complex situations, leaders (coach) should let subordinates (players) to design ways through which they can work out the problems on their own.          
Players must be engaged or threatened with punishment so as to get them to achieve the team objectives          
Providing guidance to the players without pressurizing them is the key to being a great leader          
Leadership involves staying out of the way of players as they do execute their responsibilities          
As a rule, the players should be rewarded as a form of motivation to achieve the set team goals          
Most players want regular and compassionate communication from their leaders          
As a rule, leaders should allow players to appraise their own level of commitment at work          
Most players feel insecure about their playing positions and are in need of direction from the leadership          
Leaders need to assist players accept their varied responsibilities to articulately complete assigned task          
Leaders should grant players absolute freedom to overcome different challenges on their own          
It is the responsibility of the leader to assist the players find their ‘individual passion’.          
In most circumstances, players prefer little insight from the leaders          
Real and efficient leaders provides orders and clarifies relevant procedures to the players          
Individual players are basically proficient and if granted the task will do a great job          
Generally, it is advisable to leave players to act on their own without any supervision or interference          
Leaders to delegate responsibilities in order to effectively execute procedures or processes          
Leaders need to let players to be more creative and proactive in solving varied challenges          

 

Interpretation of scores from the above questionnaire  

The leadership questionnaire is premeditated to record various styles of leadership relevant in sport management. A comparison of the scores will enable the researcher to establish the most and least dominant leadership style and the most preferred in an institutional setting.

Conclusion

Leadership is a crucial factor in successful sport management. The need to be an ‘effective’ leader in the management of various sporting activities is a common endeavor and challenge for many leaders in this field. This paper has articulated the various roles and importance of leadership theories and styles in sports management. It has further highlighted the different types of leadership theories, their advantage and potential weak points. The significance of each of these leadership theories and their suitability to different demands and situations is also discussed. These theories give various insights on how best a leader can be effective in the management of teams and players. Most of successful sport leaders applied either or a combination of these leadership theories to define their roles and those of individual players depending on the situation, opponent, organizational culture, goals and objectives and individual traits of both the team members and the leader.

References

Barrett, M., Sutcliffe, P. J. (eds.) & Key Centre in Strategic Management (Queensland University of Technology). (2003). Leadership theories: A critique and its implications for management education. Brisbane: Key Centre in Strategic Management, Queensland University of Technology.

Bischoff, A. L. (2010). Leadership theories – Gandhi as leader: The application of leadership skills in organizations on a great leader of our time according to Gary A. Yukl. München: Grinverl.

Charbonneau, D., Barling, J., & Kelloway, E. K. (2001). Transformational Leadership and Sports Performance: The Mediating Role of Intrinsic Motivation1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 31(7), 1521-1534.

Hall, D. S. (2013, January). “Leadership: theories, styles and visioning”. In NAAAS Conference Proceedings (p. 36). National Association of African American Studies.

Shields, D. L., Gardner, D. E., Bredemeier, B. J. & Bostrom, A. (1997). The relationship between leadership behaviors and group cohesion in team sports. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary & Applied, 131, 196-210.