What factors contribute to make a good leader and how might your style of leadership vary to be successful when involved in individual, team and racket activities?

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Introduction

What factors contribute to make a good leader and how might your style of leadership vary to be successful when involved in individual, team and racket activities? It is no coincidence that the teams and individuals chasing sports most prestigious prizes are led by men and women of genuine inspiration. The value of such captains and leaders cannot be underestimated whether they be a firebrand with a laser tongue and a short fuse such as Roy Keane at Manchester United or a man of few words but shimmering example such as Arsenal's Patrick Vieira. The key is respect. Invariably a skipper commanding such a quality is the first name on the team sheet precisely because he is the link between the management and the team. The skipper (leader) is the manager's eyes and ears. He is the closest to the heartbeat of the team and the inner thoughts of the manager, which is why it so often appears that a manager and his captain have been carved from the same mould. They simply have to operate on the same wavelength. So the vocal, abrasive style of Keane perfectly mirrors the feisty, no-nonsense personality of Sir Alex Ferguson while the quieter, lead-by-example character of Vieira reflects the more intellectual approach of Arsenal's Arsene Wenger.

Middle

You often see Andrew Lloyd giving a word of advice and encouragement to Tim Henman when playing. In athletics, however, the coach can only act as a leader for so long and when it comes to the crunch and pressure of the race its self its all down to the athlete, unlike in football and tennis where help and encouragement is given throughout by the prescribed leaders. A prescribed leader is "somebody who has been put in position by an outside body." (Edexcel) For example a new manager could instate or bring in a new player to be his/her captain. Prescribed leaders aren't always the best choice as "resentment often occurs if the team already have good cohesion (before a captain is chosen) or if there is an individual within the group or team structure who the members feel should be their leader" (Edexcel). These are called Emergent leaders and they appear "naturally from within the group" (Edexcel) and the reason they tend to be more successful is because they have the support and respect of the team. Task orientated or person orientated leaders are also different and gain respect in different ways.

Conclusion

A long jumper in athletics could have a democratic coach, if it is debateable whether he learns the correct technique or keeps his natural, more comfortable one then the coach may bring in experts in the event to give them advice. "It could be argued that this style doesn't evolve into leadership. Anything goes - the group is encouraged to do what it wants to" (Edexcel), this could give players extra confidence as they believe they are trusted in making their own decisions, however it could mean a drop in morale due to the team lacking guidance and being poorly run and motivated. To my mind the art of leadership is a God-given talent. In terms of man-management, parts of it can be taught to an extent but its most important essence comes from within. It derives from the individual's own personality which, after all, has been formed by a combination of genes and all manner of experiences. Emergent, person orientated, autocratic leaders are seen as the most suited to team games whereas a tactical task orientated leader is suited to individual and racket sports like golf (Ryder Cup) All leadership styles have positive effects and all have some negative, but it just down to the leader himself to deliver and inspire in the most crucial of circumstances regardless or style of leadership.

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