Perceptions of Soccer Players about Leadership Powers According to Their Level of Play

By Konter, Erkut | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, May 2009 | Go to article overview

Perceptions of Soccer Players about Leadership Powers According to Their Level of Play


Konter, Erkut, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


The influence of leaders and the compliance of followers have both been studied frequently in social and organizational psychology within a theoretical framework known as the bases of social power (French & Raven, 1959; Frost & Stahelski, 1988). Sports leadership has also been an area of enquiry of great interest to both practitioners and researchers (Chelladurai, 1990; Riemer, 2007). French and Raven identified five sources of interpersonal power in leadership; reward, coercive, referent, legitimate and expert power. Wann, Metcalf, Brewer, and Whiteside (2000) adapted these interpersonal power concepts to sports settings and showed that the five-factor model was psychometrically sound in the USA. Konter (2007a) recently translated these scales of measurement into Turkish and applied them to soccer players and coaches, but there is still a dearth of research relating to the powers of leadership in sport (Wann et al.) and to the powers of leadership in coaches, in the soccer environment in particular.

People in general--coaches, sports officials, players, and particularly spectators--possess power to the extent that they have the ability to influence or change the attitude or behavior of others in a sociocultural environment (French & Raven, 1959). Reward power (RWP) involves the ability to reward others using such methods as verbal praise, encouraging others by using positive body language, and--in the case of soccer--allowing more actual playing time. Coercive power (CP) is the ability to punish--for example by making verbal reprimands, gesturing negatively, giving less playing time, and making players run laps or do sit ups and push ups. Legitimate power (LP) involves the ability to use position and authority within an organization, group or team; for example, by being an authority figure, possessing official status, having the ownership of the organization, or being the head coach, and so on. Expert power (EP) is derived from the perception that one is knowledgeable, skilful, or talented in a specific domain, for example being a former star in a sport, having specific education and experience, or having been awarded many titles or medals. Referent power (RP) concerns the capacity to be liked and respected by group members; for example athletes may like, respect or admire their coaches and willingly follow their instructions (French & Raven, 1959; Wann et al., 2000).

In addition to French and Raven's (1959) interpersonal power constructs Kelman (1958) put forward a taxonomy of three concepts--compliance, identification and internalization--which are the results of the exercise of power. In this context reward and coercive powers can result in compliance, referent power brings about identification, and legitimate and expert powers are conducive to internalization. A number of authors have also suggested using the two concepts of personal power and positional power (Wann et al., 2000; Yukl & Falbe, 1991). Positional power can be equated to reward, coercive, and legitimate powers, while personal power is the equivalent of referent and expert powers (Wagner & Hollenbeck, 1998; Wann et al., 2000; Yukl, 2002).

A good response by athletes to the perceptions of the power of coaches can give rise to the following; satisfaction (Home & Carron, 1985; Riemer & Chelladurai, 1995), ability (Summers, 1991), positive assessment (Laughlin & Laughlin, 1994), team cohesion (Maby, 1997), success and enhanced performance (Garland & Barry, 1990; Gordon, 1988).

Konter (2008c) found that; a) successful amateur coaches, that is, those whose teams reached the top places in their league, are perceived to use CP more than are successful professional coaches, unsuccessful professional coaches and unsuccessful amateur coaches, b) successful amateur coaches are perceived to use EP more than are successful professional coaches, unsuccessful professional coaches and unsuccessful amateur coaches. …

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