According to Carron (1981) new leaders are selected in two ways. Firstly, Carron said there were “emergent” leaders who rose naturally from their group or who were selected by their peers. This happens frequently in sporting events as the new leader will have the support and respect of their team mates (e.g. A basketballer scoring many decisive points during a match). Secondly, there are “prescribed” leaders, who are selected by an outside body (e.g. a chairman of a football club appointing a manager). The disadvantage of this may be that the new leader may be seen as an uninvited intruder into a unit that may be working perfectly well. It is however, the easiest option for those having to choose a new leader.
The qualities used by a good leader will be totally dependent upon the situation. This can lead to different styles of leadership to become evident. There are a lot of factors in a situation that will influence the leadership style used. These include tradition, the time during an event, the size of the group and individuality. The choice of style can also be affected by the group’s expectations and preferred leadership style. There are three main types of leadership:
Autocratic style – the leader makes all the decisions. He/she will dictate what should be done and how. It is often used in dangerous situations and where the leader is confident. Little attention is given to individuals. It is also used if the group is hostile (e.g. when a group is performing poorly) Democratic style – a leader who shares decisions with the group/team and who seeks their advice or opinion. It is mainly used when the group is friendly. (e.g. when a group is performing at a satisfactory standard) Laissez faire – the group will be encouraged to do what they want to do. There is little instruction/direction from the leader. (e.g. when a group is performing well.
Packianathan Chelladurai (1987) suggests that the behaviour of a leader can also have an affect on the situation. Effective leadership in training sessions (e.g. by a manager/coach), will help to improve performance, technique and tactical knowledge of a group. A leader’s social support of others in the group will improve their wellbeing. Youngsters often prefer this behaviour. A leader who rewards those under his control will use ‘positive reinforcements’ to help the group.
Chelladurai then put these aspects into a model. Chelladurai’s multi-dimensional model of leadership, shows how the relationship between the leader’s personality, the group, the situation, and behaviour type can influence performance. Task centred leadership – which is used by those with good activity related skills/knowledge and who can lead a team well as their understanding of the task is good. This would mainly be used in a pressurised situation where the group must stay focused (e.g. Final of a major competition)
Person orientated leaders – are those with good social skills and who are able to motivate and get the most out of each individual rather than concentrating solely on the task. This would mainly be used in fairly relaxed situations (e.g. a coach in a training session). As well as Chelladurai’s model and Fiedler’s continuum, there have been other methods used to identify leadership characteristics and measure the influence of the leader.
These include the …. Path goal theory – states that a leader can change a group’s expectancy by clarifying the paths between the group’s action and the outcome, which is the goal the leader wants to achieve. Whether the leader can do this or not is dependant on situational factors. Normative theory – describe a “norm” or standard of behaviour that ought to be followed as supposed to one that is actually followed. Situational leadership theory – this approach suggests that the leader must act in a flexible manner to be able to diagnose the leadership style that is appropriate for the situation, and apply it.
These leadership styles and characteristics that are associated with them can be applied to different sporting situations. For example in a team sport the leader should be directive and able to motivate, organise tasks and bring a structure to the group. This was particularly evident in the 2002 Ryder Cup, where the Captain Sam Torrance managed to lift his out of form players. Players such as Lee Westwood, Alex Cjeka, Paul McGinley and particularly Philip Price, had all had particularly poor seasons.
However, during the competition, they all raised their game, especially Price, who was ranked 119th in the world and managed to overturn the world’s number two Phil Mickelson in the singles on the final day. On being asked how he achieved an improbable win, Torrance referred to the advice given to him by Sir Alex Ferguson …. “… there are no superstars, they are all the same. Everyone makes a major part of the team, from the rookies to the big names.” This is an example of how using a person orientated, democratic approach, along with knowledge, respect and enthusiasm can raise performance. Torrance’s leadership also showed aspects of the path goal theory (changing the team’s expectations) and situational leadership (team selection etc.).
An individual performer can often rely on leadership to come from within, or from coaches to rescue a performance. Paul Annacone’s coaching of Pete Sampras allowed him to win the 2002 US Open. This showed a perfect example of someone reacting to a situation in a racket sport and applying leadership skills learnt from a coach to succeed. Before the tournament, Sampras was receiving criticism for his poor form. Many journalists and ex-professionals suggested that it was time for him to retire. This advice was given on the back of Sampras’s worst year as a professional, which saw a slump in world rankings and a two year drought without a tournament win. Nevertheless, his record 13th Grand Slam title, won in four sets against Andre Agassi proved that Sampras could still perform when it mattered.