Leadership and Teamwork Paradigms: Two Models for Baseball Coaches

By Chen, Chao-Chien | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, November 2010 | Go to article overview

Leadership and Teamwork Paradigms: Two Models for Baseball Coaches


Chen, Chao-Chien, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


Among the various theories and models pertaining to leadership and teamwork, two stand out when it comes to applying these paradigms in the world of sport: the transformational/transactional axis first described by Burns (1978) and later refined by Bass (1990), and the leader member exchange theory (Graen & UhlBien, 1995). The transactional/transformational leadership model is based on the notion that all leadership can be broken down into two contrasting approaches: the transactional leader works on the assumption that the goals and priorities currently in place are the right ones and what needs to be done is to put those properly into motion; the transformational leader works on the assumption that the status quo is no longer an option and a new vision is needed. According to Yukl (1989), transformational leadership is "the process of influencing major changes in the attitudes and assumptions of organization members (organizational culture) and building commitment for major changes in the organization's objectives and strategies" (p. 174).

The leader member exchange (LMX) theory is based on the assumption that the type of relationship between a leader and followers can provide results more predictive of how an organization is doing than can traits or behavior studies. LMX theory examines relationships rather than individual leaders and followers, and looks at the linkages among people rather than simply the people themselves.

The contention explored in this article is that both transactional/transformational and LMX models can be used to examine the relationship between leadership and teamwork for coaches in the sport of amateur baseball. The former can be used to help pinpoint the style of leadership a coach needs to use when dealing with the team as an entity; the latter is suitable for dealing with individual relationships between the coach and the team members. However, in this article it is argued that the leader member exchange model is much more appropriate for leadership and teamwork paradigms for baseball coaches.

This is particularly relevant in Taiwan at the present time, as the country tries to redefine its role in the world of Little League baseball, as well as trying to increase participation in team sports at all levels. Coaching is the pivotal role in the creation of teamwork, and determining which type of coaching behavior(s) will be most effective in creating such teamwork is crucial for the success of team sports programs of all types, as well as for the creation of future leaders.

Bass (1997) listed a group of similar leadership behaviors he has observed, built around the transactional/transformational framework, which he considered the most widely accepted modern theories. For instance, House (1977) came up with the theory of charisma, Conger and Kanungo (1987) came up with the attributional theory of charisma, Kouzes and Posner (1987) came up with the concept of leadership challenge, and Sashkin (1988) described visionary leadership.

In a number of empirical studies the universality of the transactional/transformational paradigms have been demonstrated, for example, Avolio and Bass (1994) described how this leadership style operated with housewives active in the community, Avolio, Waldman, and Einstein (1988) described transformational leadership among students, Bass, Avolio, and Goodheim (1987) examined leaders of movements and American presidents, and Avolio and Bass (1995) studied organizational teams.

According to Chelladurai (1999), study of the concept of transformational leadership need not be confined to large organizations or political groupings. This type of leadership analysis can also be done with much smaller organizations.

A typical example in sport, is that of an athletic coach who transforms his or her team from a "perennial doormat" into a winning team. This type of coach begins by articulating discontent with the current image of the team, goes on to describe a vision where the team is performing in a winning fashion, and then convinces the members that the vision is attainable and they have the ability to be a winning team (p. …

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