What factors contribute to make a good leader and how might your style of leadership vary to be successful when involved in individual, racket and team activities? Leadership can be defined as '... the behavioural process influencing individuals and groups towards set goals'(- Barrow, 1977.) This behavioural process that influences the set goals does not necessarily have to be one set person. The influence can come from a variety of leaders.
The most obvious being coaches, captains and teachers; but other people can also influence this who do not have the specific leadership titles. The leader in the sport, whether it be an individual, racket, or team activity, has certain roles that help the individual or team to achieve goals and successes. Without a leader, these goals and successes are often not met and can eventually mean a failure in that goal. These successes are not solely based on just the leader, but also whether the group, team or individual accepts the leader. Carron (1981) investigated how the leader gains the position of power and suggested there are different types of leader (-Advanced PE for Edexcel.)
The first type of leader is a prescribed leader. This is a leader who has been selected by the highest position in a club, i.e. the chairman, and not by members of the team or an individual. This method is not always successful as normally the selection made by the outside body does not consult the team or individual. The prescribed leader is one who would coach a team as it is best suited. Another type of leader is an emergent leader.
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This type of leader is one who has been selected personally from the group or team, and so therefore is expected to be the most successful type of leader as they have been appointed by their fellow peers, who obviously are respectful and think highly of the leader. Individuals would work well with this type of leader as they can work better as they have chosen their leader and so will give and gain respect. Often leaders are a mixture of both types (emergent and prescribed.) An example of this is when candidates for a team captain may be selected by the manager and then voted by the players.
However, these types of leaders will need certain qualities and characteristics to become a successful one. A lot of debate has been focused on whether these qualities and characteristics of a leader are environmental (those influenced by their experiences, or growing surroundings) or genetically ones. Yet now, it has been proven that it is 'social learning' which will influence a person's development as a leader. Some of the main characteristics that are needed for a successful coach/ leader are a sport-specific skills/knowledge, interpersonal skills, peer respect, good communication skills, empathy, consistency and fairness.
A leader also needs high levels of motivation and also to provide a self- realisation tactic to help their students or athletes, not only for a team sport, but also for coaching an individual or a racket activity. To spot these skills on a leader can sometimes be impossible, and so questionnaire based approaches, researched by the Coach Behaviour Description Questionnaire (CBDQ) and the Leadership Scale for Support (LSS.)
As mentioned earlier, a leader does not have to be just a coach or a manager. A leader can take roles on such as a captain. Captains are important in all sports, whether it be a football captain in a final, a netball captain in a friendly or simply a gymnast or dancer being her own captain. All captains of sports should gain maximum productivity in a group.
Autocratic leaders are those who have power over their team or individual. They coach in command style A (where they are in total control, and there is no freedom for the group.) Autocratic leaders would suit individuals or racket activities.
This style of leadership would bring success to individuals or racket activities because focus would be solely on them, and aiming to bring them more success or to get a task completed. An example of this could be a runner or a dancer preparing for a race or exam, where their coach or teacher is in total control, but where they are confident enough and understand their task and sport. Whereas autocratic leaders are task- orientated leaders, democratic leaders are person- orientated leaders who take advice from their group, and will therefore listen and act on their opinion. This style of leadership would best suit team activities where all the players would get a say in the decision.
For example, in a football match, if it ever came to penalties, who out of the eleven players would each take one. Laissez- faire is a style of leadership where the group are encouraged to do what they want. However, because of the freedom given, this style of leadership is only successful if the group are motivated and very experienced players, so that they can, by themselves, still succeed. Identifying leadership characteristics have lead to a number of methods being formed to try and identify them, and to measure the influence of the leader. Again, these methods are thought to be based on trait theories (genetically passed on) or social learning perspective.
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