Sports management is an essential profession that encompasses handling of people from diverse backgrounds. The participants in a given sport include people from different nationalities, ages, cultural beliefs, religious practices, experience and so on. It is worthy to note that successful sports teams have influential leaders or managers who help players to improve their performance. Imperatively, sports as an art involve a combination of more than one leadership style. Leadership is regarded as a behavioral process aimed at influencing groups or individuals to achieve set goals. Therefore, this implies that a leader or a sports manager has a dual function of steering players to achieve success as well as ensuring their satisfaction. Each category or level of sports involves a distinct leadership style or a combination of more than one style. Sports leaders usually display their leadership skills in interactive games as well as during training. Quintessentially, sports management must entail effective leadership styles to help in creating a successful team that conquers others in the competition.
The type of leadership style in sports is contingent on the level of participants in sports. This implies that the leadership style applicable to amateurs is different from that which involves elites. An effective leadership should encompass qualities such as empathy, vision, experience, charisma, ambition, and motivation. For instance, autocratic leadership applies to amateurs or beginners in a sport. Under this leadership style, sports managers make all the decisions involved in day-to-day training and matches. Moreover, the manager is motivated to accomplish the task effectively and quickly. It is also important to highlight that in autocratic leadership, the manager does not delegate responsibilities. This type of leadership is also applicable in instances when a manager or a coach has to make quick decisions in large teams or groups (Borland, Burton, & Kane, 2014). As an illustration, a manager uses autocratic leadership style during warm-up sessions as well as in team selection process. Also, the manager uses this leadership style in disciplining players for various misconducts. It is also used to impart knowledge during the cognitive phases of learning a manager's playing tactics and philosophy.
Sports management should also incorporate situational leadership to handle different circumstances associated with the game. It is worthy to elucidate that any sport has diverse issues that affect it. For instance, there may be issues to do with finances, player recruitment, player motivation, pressures from fans and other stakeholders, and so on. A good sports manager should possess high ability and skill in situational leadership to help in adjusting to the demands of various stakeholders and situations. According to Chelladurai (2013), situational leadership offers sports coaches and managers the flexibility required to understand and solve complexities associated with various sports. It is imperative to note that in this type of leadership, managers do not possess a specific leadership skill. They use a variety of skills to solve eminent problems as well as encourage players to tailor their efforts towards achieving success in competitions.
Democratic leadership is required in elite level in sports management. Notably, an elite level encompasses players who are experts in the tactics and philosophy of their managers. Therefore, the manager delegates duties to them during training and within the team or group. The manager may apply a democratic leadership style to develop and enhance interpersonal relationships with the players and the technical support. In this leadership style, the sports manager engages stakeholders in consultations to promote unity and cohesion. Also, under this leadership style, the manager gives task ownership to each individual within the team, which helps the team to work harder and achieve a common purpose (Peachey, Zhou, Damon, & Burton, 2015). Democratic leadership style is effective in co-active games. It is also effective in instances when time constraints do not exist. Also, it is imperative in instances where players require personal support to boost their morale and motivate them to achieve stipulated goals. Furthermore, a sports coach applies democratic leadership style when he or she manages small groups. Players in autonomous learning stages also require a democratic leadership style.
Another leadership style that managers can apply in sports is laissez-faire style. Peachey et al. (2015) explain that this leadership style entails the manager or the coach standing aside and enabling the team or the group to make independent decisions. It is worthy to understand that this leadership style occurs automatically within a team. If the leadership of a coach or a manager is inadequate, the team can lose direction. Also, under this leadership style, members tend to be aggressive towards one another. They also give up easily if confronted with mistakes and challenges. However, despite these shortcomings, this leadership style is essential in enabling creativity within players in the competitive sports environment. It also motivates employees to improve their skills as well as flourish in their roles. It is pivotal to highlight laissez-faire style applies to group members who have requisite skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the sport. Notably, even as the players make independent decisions, the manager remains solely accountable to the club's stakeholders such as fans, financiers, and the public among others.
There are instances when a coach has to use transactional leadership in sports management. This style is aimed at giving satisfaction to followers or players, which is achieved through punishments or rewards. Transactional leadership focuses on team performance and management, and it helps in maintaining team effectiveness and productivity (Peachey et al., 2015). It is applicable in teams where members have adjusted and are familiar with the manager's philosophy and tactics. This implies that transactional leadership is only useful in teams that have evolved and established themselves beyond chaotic and initial development stages of a sports team. Therefore, transactional leadership is not applicable to sports teams that require change as this style aims at maintaining the status quo. For example, if a footballing team wins games and trophies, a manager may want to his or her team to maintain a given team formation. Also, the manager improves the individual player's efforts and skills. The manager achieves this by examining each player's faults and deviations. He or she also sets and standardizes goals that enable the team to attain maturity as well as be more successful as compared to competitors.
Transformational leadership is also an important style that sports coaches apply to manage teams. It is concerned with ethics, standards, values, long-term goals, and emotions. Coaches or managers apply this leadership style when the sports team requires a change. It is pivotal to highlight that in transformational leadership, sports management creates order and a new vision for the team. Stenling and Tafvelin (2014) elucidate that under the transformational leadership, the management arouses the needs and interest of members by encouraging them to be creative and innovative to enable the team to prosper. A transformational sports leader or manager must, therefore, articulate the team's vision, convince members of the team to embrace the vision and confide in them to achieve the vision. A coach using transformational leadership style must be clear in giving tasks to his or her players. Imperatively, he or she must also set a positive tone and attitude to players irrespective of the external situations. By so doing, players will feel a sense of empowerment and liberation which will be crucial in enabling them to reach the set or established goals.
Coaches can also apply charismatic leadership in sports management. Charismatic leaders in sports formulate a mission which is achievable but is radically dissimilar from the team's status quo. The leaders also make self-sacrifices to the team to enable members to improve their performance. Additionally, charismatic coaches exude self-confidence about their teams' mission and vision (Fletcher & Arnold, 2015). Other than that, they inspire players to give their all in matches and in training to facilitate continuous improvement. It is also paramount to mention that charismatic coaches make players feel important and wanted. They love their job and believe in having fun with their players. They like sharing emotional lows and highs with the team's fans and players. Charismatic leadership style also encompasses protection of players against criticism from fans and journalists among others. However, they are strict disciplinarians who do not entertain unbecoming behaviors from their players.
Managers may also opt for an empowerment leadership style in sports. This leadership style entails giving players a participatory role in the team. The ramification for this is that it helps players capitalize on their judgment and expertise. Thus, empowerment leadership helps players to commit to the team as well as making them feel a sense of individual worth, which boosts their morale and fighting spirit for improved performance (Lee, Kim, & Joon-Ho, 2013). It is also used in instances when there is mistrust in the team. Through this leadership style, managers establish honesty and openness within the team and thus promoting team trust and excellence. Also, the manager leads by example by not only setting high behavioral standards for players but also becoming a reference point of good behavior. Empowerment leadership also entails showing concern to players' problems as well as helping them improve their performance by supporting and encouraging them.
In general, no particular leadership style is effective in sports management. Coaches and managers must, therefore, use a combination of leadership styles to achieve effectiveness in sports and improve the performance of each player and the whole team. The type of leadership to embrace should be contingent on the player's level of professionalism, current team circumstance, and so on. It is worthy to note that the success of a team depends on the coach's ability to embrace a leadership style that solves the circumstances at hand. Overall, leadership styles should solve problems that players encounter as well as boost their morale by motivating them to succeed. These styles should also make players to feel important and wanted. Managers should also protect their players from unfavorable criticism from journalists and pundits among others.
Borland, B., Burton, L. J., & Kane, G. M. (2014). Sports leadership in the 21st century. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Chelladurai, P. (2013). A personal journey in theorizing in sports management. Sports Management Review, 16(1), 22-28.
Fletcher, D., & Arnold, R. (2015). 10 Performance leadership and management in elite sport. Managing Elite Sports Systems: Research and Practice, 2(1), 162.
Lee, Y., Kim, S. H., & Joon-Ho, K. (2013). Coach leadership effect on elite handball players' psychological empowerment and organizational citizenship behavior. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 8(2), 327-342.
Peachey, J. W., Zhou, Y., Damon, Z. J., & Burton, L. J. (2015). Forty years of leadership research in sports management: A review, synthesis, and conceptual framework. Journal of Sports Management, 29(5), 570-587.
Stenling, A., & Tafvelin, S. (2014). Transformational leadership and well-being in sports: The...
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