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Essay: Leadership Behaviors in Athletes: A Study on the Impact of Athlete Leader Status

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  • Published: 1 February 2018*
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  • Words: 890 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)

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The cited research paper article is a peer-reviewed journal article explaining a true experiment measuring different leadership behaviors in athletes. It examines factors that may impact the behaviors that athlete leaders display and it focuses on the physical attributes of the role of the athlete leader (Crozier A. J., et al., 87). The study aims to discover if an athlete’s leadership status differentiates an individual’s self-rated leadership behaviors in sport teams (Crozier A. J., et al., 93). The findings of this study were derived by giving participants measures that asked them: 1) Athlete Leader Status and 2) Athlete Leader Behaviors. This is a research paper because it is the description of the true experiment performed and includes data analysis that answers the initial question. It provides insight into social development, focusing on the relationships between athletes and which values, knowledge and skills necessary to take on a leadership role.

The background information included in the paper offers studies that identify four major sources of status in sports teams. These sources are “physical attributes such as performance experience, role as a leader, playing position, etc.; psychological attributes such as positive attitude and fostering team spirit; demographic attributes such as age and income; and relationships with external others such as parental support” (Crozier A. J., et al., 86, 87). The background information that led to this study evidenced the positive effect athlete leaders have on players. Leaders instill satisfaction, confidence, team cohesion, and performance in their teammates. This research goes a step further to see what behaviors result in the instillation of these values. The researchers hypothesized that “frequency of Social Support, Positive Feedback, and Democratic Behavior would not differ based on athlete leader status, such that these behaviors are shared similarly among athlete leaders” (Crozier A. J., et al., 88). The sample of this study included 299 late adolescents, early adults in collegiate athletics. Leadership behaviors in sports teams is the dependent variable in this study. The independent variables were the ways the athletes ranked themselves. Specifically, the athletes were asked to self-identify themselves as a formal (e.g. captains) or informal (experience and interaction with other team members) leader, or neither if they did not identify, as well as self-rate their own leadership behaviors (Crozier A. J., et al., 87). These measures were used to determine how both leaders and followers viewed leadership behaviors.

The theoretical perspective being used in this research is Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory of development. Since this research studies collegiate athletes, the projected age is from 18-22 years. Two of the stages in Erikson’s theory focus on these ages: Identity vs. Role Confusion (12-18) and Intimacy vs. Isolation (18-40). Identity vs. Role views development as the stage where individuals begin to think about their future careers, relationships, families, etc. They also want to belong to a culture and fit in. Individuals explore their core values and goals and try to determine which role they will occupy as an adult. In a sports team, athletes either lead or follow. This decision ultimately comes from the personality that the athlete espouses with the team. Leaders know that their role requires responsibility to move their team forward efficiently and understand the necessity of taking risks. Followers accept the role of being led and they are comfortable with it. They prefer to listen and proceed safely, trusting the that the leader will act with the best intentions. The stage of Intimacy vs. Isolation focuses on deeper commitments with someone other than a family member. Although this is mostly applied to intimate, loving relationships with other people, it can be applied to a sports team. Trust and motivation are a huge part of team efficiency. Followers need to feel that their leaders care for them on and off of the playing field. With the intensity of collegiate competition, team members spend hours together every day. Bonds stronger than just wearing the same jersey are formed. There were various findings that came from this study. The first is that while both formal and informal leaders provided task-oriented functions, the informal leaders did so to a lesser extent but more so than followers. The next finding is that both formal and informal leaders use more social-support behavior than follower athletes. Another finding, a bit different from the previous two, was that all athletes, regardless of follower/leader status, use Democratic Behavior and Positive Behavior (Locke’s 2003 integrated model of leadership). This finding showed that there is a sense of shared nature of leadership in sport (Crozier A. J., et al., 93). One variable that may have had an effect on the results was the fact that since the athletes had to self-report, some athletes may not have answered genuinely because of response bias. Some athletes may have answered based on social desirability and not what they genuinely believed of themselves.

To make this study better, researchers could perform a multi-variable test which tests for the effects of other variables such as experience in a sport. The amount of time and skill an athlete has in a sport also affects leadership status in sports teams. More behaviors could also have been included. The researchers only studied four behaviors. This article matters profusely because strong team dynamics can affect whether a team will perform well or badly. Having a team with a strong understanding of leadership is important for overall efficiency.

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