Youth leadership in sports
Leadership has been rated as the most studied and least understood subject of all the social sciences. Leadership is the process of providing direction, energizing others, and obtaining their voluntary commitment to the leader’s vision. A leader creates a vision and goals and influences others to share that vision and work toward the goals. Therefore, leaders are concerned with bridging change and motivating others to support that vision of change. As academics state, “Management involves dealing with complexity, while leadership is about dealing with change.”
Leaders can be found at all levels of a sports organization, but not everyone immediately stands out from the crowd. Different situations, different cultures, different organizations, at different times in your life, require different characteristics and require different skills in a leader. A young person may be great at exercising leadership in his volleyball team, but terrible at exercising leadership in another setting. This happens all the time. Some excellent young sports leaders do not exercise leadership in their school projects or in other clubs of the kind they may belong to at the same time, not only because they choose not to, but also because they do not know how. Those other settings have different sets of norms, different authority structures, and different sets of adaptive challenges that the child may not be familiar with.
On the other hand, power is the ability to influence the behavior of others. Regardless of their age, leaders wield power, and effective leaders know how to use it wisely. The types of power a young leader uses reveal a lot about why others follow that child. One of the most useful frameworks for understanding the power of leaders was developed by John French and Bertram Raven. They identified five types of power: legitimate, rewarding, coercive, referent, and expert.
But in addition to the different forms of power that leaders can use, there are several different characteristics that describe how effective young leaders influence others. These characteristics have been classified into four categories of models: traits, behavioral, contingent, and transformational. There is no single or simple answer as to which leadership style works best. Fifty years ago, trait leadership models were popular. Gradually, as the evidence accumulated, the trait models were replaced, first by behavioral models and then by contingency models. Today, the transformational model has many supporters, reflecting the efforts of many leaders to transform outdated forms of organizations into more competitive ones. Trait models are based on the assumption that certain physical, social, and personal characteristics are inherent in leaders. In this view, the presence or absence of these characteristics distinguishes leaders from those who are not. Some of the key traits are physical, social, and personality traits. There is some common sense that supports the notion that effective leaders, young or old, have certain traits. However, research has not shown that traits consistently separate potential leaders from non-leaders. For example, the physical characteristics of a young baseball athlete do not necessarily correlate with his ability to eliminate successful leadership later in life; they relate only to perceived leadership ability.
In summary, as the pace of today’s world accelerates, the leadership styles applied during the previous century, or even twenty years ago, differ substantially from those that needed to be applied today or in 2020. To illustrate this, consider the young members of a school. baseball team that, if unwilling or unable to perform, the school coach will definitely have to follow the autocratic leadership style. However, as long as the coach applies the proper motivation and training techniques, the young subordinates gradually become willing and capable. Therefore, the situation is changing. This denotes that leadership must also evolve from the autocratic to the democratic style. In short, the leadership style must “adjust” to the evolution of the pending situation. As the example illustrates, sports organizations, especially those involving children, must face the future and learn from past practices by continually adapting to new, evolving instructional programs.