A Review of Leadership in Sport: Implications for Football Management Lee Crust and Ian Lawrence York St. John University College ABSTRACT This paper reviews research on leadership in sport and considers the implications of this work in relation to the complex task of effective football management. Trait, behavioral and interactional models of leadership are discussed and applied to football management. The importance of sport specific models and research is also highlighted. The need for improved training and support services for football managers is discussed, and a theoretical, composite view of an effective football manager is proposed. Since the psychological aspects of football management have received scant attention from researchers, future research that focuses on the psychological requirements and demands of football management is encouraged. Directions for future research are given.
In association football as in other high status sports, the position of manager represents a stressful and turbulent occupation where individuals are publicly held responsible for a team’s performance. In 2004-2005, more than half of the 92 managers that started the English professional league season had been fired by the end of the season, thus reflecting the precarious nature of the position. The average length of tenure per managerial position during this period averaged at just 2 years (The Guardian, 2002), a feature seldom conducive to the successful management of a complex business. However, the goal of an effective and successful manager is arguably the ability to select, retain and develop the best people; this may ultimately be the key to longevity in the role. The role of the professional football manager in the UK has traditionally encompassed a variety of responsibilities which extend beyond the role of coach. Whether management in current day football is indeed a profession is a contentious issue. The implication is that managers
should demonstrate a high level of education and training enforced by a governing body (Larson, 1977). By definition, therefore, the professional status of managers in the UK is a relatively new phenomenon, heralded by the creation of the FIFA ‘Pro licence’ in 1997, with the first graduates following in 1998.
The Roles of the Football Manager
The title of ‘manager’ in British association football is distinct from that of coach and is closer to that of the responsibilities held by a Head Coach or Athletic Director in the United States. The process of managing people whether in sport or business is a complex task and requires a sympathetic appreciation of the multi-dimensional roles required. Traditionally, a coach has a prescribed number of roles, which typically includes a planned, coordinated and integrated program of athlete preparation (Baker, Horton, Robertson-Wilson & Wall, 2003; Lyle, 2002; Pyke, 1992; Sabock, 1985; Woodman, 1993). In contrast, the modern football manager must acknowledge the importance of his role from a business or financial perspective (Perry, 2000). While some theorists have attempted to distinguish the difference between a manager and a leader by emphasizing the organizational role of the manager and the vision and direction provided by leaders (Weinberg & Gould, 2003), the role of the football manager (see table 1) clearly encompasses elements of both. According to Beech (2002), the consensus is that management implies leadership, but that leaders need not necessarily be managers. Blair (1996) suggests that the role of a manager is to maximize the output of the organization by organizing, planning, staffing, directing and controlling; and that leadership is just one aspect of the directing function. Since football management is essentially a role that is likely to include leadership and coaching responsibilities, research evidence from both leadership and coaching domains will be reviewed in this...