Athlete leadership behavior : how it relates to perceived team cohesion and players' satisfaction in elite sport teams
So far only little is known about athlete leadership. Instead, previous research in sports leadership focused on the role a coach plays within sport teams. Yet, first studies could raise awareness for the importance of athlete leaders who occupy a formal or informal role in a team. Initial research results showed a significant impact of athlete leadership behavior on perceived team cohesion and the satisfaction of team members. Additionally, the concept of motivational leadership was recently introduced and claimed to be one of the most important functions leaders may overtake. Thus, this study aimed to confirm former findings and extent the knowledge by taking a new behavior pattern of motivational leadership into account. More specifically, the purpose was to further examine perceived and preferred leadership behaviors of key players in elite sport teams, just as to investigate their impact on perceived team cohesion and individual athlete satisfaction. Finally, mediation models were expected to clarify the complex interaction between leadership behavior, team cohesion and satisfaction. Six semi-/ professional sport teams were included in the study. Participants were asked to fill in a survey battery which included a modified version of the Leadership Scale in Sports, the Group Environment Questionnaire and ten subscales of the Athlete Satisfaction Questionnaire and took approximately 20 minutes. Team members were asked to fill in the LSS twice, thus assessing perceived and preferred leadership behaviors. In contrast to former studies, athlete leaders were supposed to complete a self-perceived rating of their behavior patterns, instead of only focusing on the evaluation of other team members. The collected data was then analyzed using SPSS. T-tests showed significant differences between the perceptions and preferences of athlete leaders and their team mates. Moreover, linear regression revealed significant effects of athlete leadership behavior on several dimensions of cohesion and satisfaction. Finally mediation models confirmed former findings by suggesting that Group Integration either fully or partly determine the effects of leadership behavior on satisfaction. The current results extent the knowledge about athlete leadership. It was found that Positive Feedback and Motivational Leadership were the most valued behaviors and also had the greatest influence on the outcome variables. Thus, the present study could confirm earlier findings suggesting an impact of leadership behavior on team cohesion. Interestingly, the higher salience of social cohesion was associated with athlete leadership. Moreover, cohesion seemed to be determinant when predicting athlete satisfaction based on leadership behavior. Practical implications may be considered for the development of leadership trainings and for the selection process of team leaders. ...
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