LEADERSHIP IN SPORT:Fiedlerís Contingency Theory, Coach-Athlete Compatibility

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Sport Psychology(psy407)
Lesson 38
Theories of Leadership
Early interest in leadership centered on the traits or abilities of great leaders. It was believed that great
leaders were born and not made. Leadership traits are relatively stable personality dispositions such as
intelligence, aggressiveness, and independence. Leadership behaviors have to do with the observed behavior
of leaders and have little to do with their personality. Traits found in all successful leaders are referred to as
universal traits, as opposed to situational traits. Situational traits and situational behaviors are those traits
and behaviors that may help make a leader successful in one situation but are of little value in another.
Universal Trait Theories of Leadership
Trait theory has its origin in the "great man" theory of leadership, which suggests that certain great leaders
have personality traits and personality characteristics that make them ideally suited for leadership.
Supporters of trait theory believe that successful leaders have certain personality characteristics or leadership
traits that make it possible for them to be successful leaders in any situation.
Universal Behavior Theories of Leadership
Shortly after World War II the focus in leadership research turned from universal traits to universal
behaviors of successful leaders. It was believed that successful leaders had certain universal behaviors. Once
theses universal behaviors were identified, they could be taught to potential leaders everywhere. This
approach to leadership was very optimistic, since anyone could learn to be a successful leader simply by
learning certain predetermined behavioral characteristics. If these universal behaviors could be mastered,
then anyone could be a successful leader. Unlike trait theory, the belief was that leaders are made, not born.
Fiedler's Contingency Theory
Fiedler's contingency theory provides an excellent example of a leadership theory that is situation-specific,
but retains the notion of personality traits. Fiedler's theory is one of many that use the contingency
approach. The contingency approach to leadership suggests that leader's effectiveness is somehow situation-
specific, and that leaders that are effective in one situation may not be in another. In a sense, effective
leadership depends on specific environmental situations. However, Fiedler's theory differs from most
situational theories, since the emphasis is on relatively stable personality traits, as opposed to behaviors.
Thus, a particular personality disposition that seems to be effective in one leadership situation may not be
effective in another.
According to Fiedler (1967), the contingency model of effective leadership posits that the effectiveness of a
group is contingent on the relationship style (personality traits) and the degree to which the situation
enables the leader to exert influence.
Situation-specific behavior theories of leadership
The theories in this section view leadership as a function of the interaction between leader behavior in a
specific situation and the situation itself. In this section we will be discussing two theories:
Path-goal theory
Life cycle theory
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Sport Psychology(psy407)
Path-Goal Theory
The basic proposition of path-goal theory is that the function of the leader is to provide a "well-lighted
path" to assist the follower in achieving goals. This is done by rewarding subordinates for goal attainment,
pointing out roadblocks and pitfalls on the path to success, and increasing the opportunities for personal
satisfaction. For example, if an athlete's goal is to break a school record in the mile run, it is the coach's job
to provide a training program that is rewarding and enables the athlete to accomplish this goal.
Life Cycle Theory
Life cycle theory places the emphasis in leadership behavior on the subordinates and not on the leader. The
appropriate combination of task and relationship behavior depends on the maturity of the follower.
Coach-Athlete Compatibility
An important factor linked with leader effectiveness is coach-athlete compatibility, or the quality of the
relationship between the coach and the athlete. Compatibility between coach and athlete has been shown to
be an important determinant of team success and satisfaction. In studying coach athlete compatibility,
researchers compare behaviors of effective coach-athlete dyads (pairs) with those of less effective dyads.
Compatible coach-athlete dyads are characterized by good communication and the presence of rewarding
behavior flowing from coach to athlete. Conversely, incompatible coach-athlete dyads are characterized by a
lack of communication and rewarding behavior. In compatible dyads, coach and athlete freely interact with
each other. There is a feeling of mutual respect, an appreciation of each other's roles, and a desire to
communicate honest feelings. Theses feelings are not present in the incompatible dyads. Rather, there is a
feeling of detachment and isolation from each other. Effective and open communication cannot take place
in an environment of exclusion. Quality interaction, communication, and respect between coach and athlete
lead to athlete satisfaction and improved performance.
Player Position, Leadership Opportunity, and Stacking
Playing Position and Leadership Opportunity
Investigations show that athletes who play in certain central positions on the playing field benefit from
greater leadership opportunity. For example, in cricket, a wicketkeeper will probably have greater leadership
opportunities than a person fielding at the boundary.
Playing position and stacking
Stacking refers to the disproportionate placement of blacks or minorities into positions of low centrality
relative to task dependence and propinquity. If stacking does occur in sport, African Americans should be
underrepresented in positions of high centrality. Studies of centrality and racial segregation have shown that
minority players are underrepresented in central positions, where opportunities for leadership are greatest.
Cox, H. Richard. (2002). Sport Psychology: Concepts and Applications. (Fifth Edition). New York:
McGraw-Hill Companies
Lavallec. D., Kremer, J., Moran, A., & Williams. M. (2004) Sports Psychology: Contemporary Themes. New
York: Palgrave Macmillan Publishe
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Table of Contents:
  1. SPORT PSYCHOLOGY DEFINED:Issue of Certification, The Research Sport Psychologist
  2. SELF-CONFIDENCE AND SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Successful Performance, Verbal persuasion
  3. SELECTING SELF-TALK STATEMENTS:Skill accusation, Controlling effort
  4. GOAL ORIENTATION:Goal Involvement, Motivational Climate
  5. CAUSAL ATTRIBUTION IN SPORT:Fritz Heiderís Contribution, Other Considerations
  7. MOTIVATION IN SPORT:Social Factors, Success and Failure, Coachesí Behavior
  9. PRINCIPLES OF EFFECTIVE GOAL SETTING:Clearly identify time constraints
  10. A TEAM APPROACH TO SETTING GOALS:The Planning Phase, The Meeting Phase
  11. YOUTH SPORT:Distress and anxiety, Coach-Parent Relationships
  12. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Information Processing, Memory Systems
  13. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Measuring Attentional Focus
  14. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Personality Defined, Psychodynamic Theory
  15. THE MEASUREMENT OF PERSONALITY:Projective Procedures, Structured Questionnaire
  16. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Athletic Motivation Inventory, Personality Sport Type
  21. COPING STRATEGIES IN SPORT:Measurement of Coping Skill
  22. RELAXATION STRATEGIES FOR SPORT:Progressive Relaxation, Autogenic Training
  23. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Team Energizing Strategies, Fan Support
  24. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Precompetition Workout, Individual Goal Setting
  25. IMAGERY:Skill Level of the Athletes, Time Factors and Mental Practice
  26. IMAGERY:Symbolic Learning Theory, Imagery Perspective. Sensory Mode
  27. IMAGERY:Paivioís Two-Dimensional Model, Developing Imagery Skills
  28. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Defining Hypnosis, Social-Cognitive Theory
  29. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Achieving the Hypnotic Trance, Hypnotic Phase
  30. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Psychological Skills Training Program
  31. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Performance profiling, Performance routines
  32. ETHICS IN SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Competence, Integrity, Social Responsibility
  33. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:Defining Aggression, Catharsis hypothesis
  34. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:The Catharsis Effect, Fan Violence
  35. AUDIENCE AND CROWD EFFECTS IN SPORTS:Social Facilitation, Crowd Hostility
  36. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Measurement of Team Cohesion
  37. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Predicting Future Participation, Team Building
  38. LEADERSHIP IN SPORT:Fiedlerís Contingency Theory, Coach-Athlete Compatibility
  39. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Special Populations, Clinical Patients
  40. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Social Interaction Hypothesis, Amine Hypothesis
  41. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:The Theory of Planned Behavior, Social Cognitive Theory
  42. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Exercise Addiction, Bulimia Nervosa, Muscle Dysmorphia
  43. BURNOUT IN ATHLETES:Overtraining and Overreaching, Recommended Intervention
  44. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ATHLETIC INJURIES:Personality Factors, Coping Resources
  45. DRUG ABUSE IN SPORT AND EXERCISE:Stimulants, Depressants