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This report critically analyses the role of leadership to managing people in sport and leisure organisations. It uses critical thinking methods to demonstrate the definition of leadership, the human resource management in sport leisure organisation, the difference between management and leadership and some key theories of leadership. Finally, it analyses to analysis a case studies through one practical sports organisation as example. The purpose is to make logical recommendations for improving the fitness club management ideas to build a strong cohesion and loyalty of staff ranks high.
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The Definition of Leadership
Leadership was defined by Parry (1996: 2) who stated that “Leadership is the presentation by a person of some identifiable goal or vision or future state that people can desire; and the generation of a willingness within those people to follow the leader along a socially responsible and mutually beneficial course of action, toward thatgoal.” This concept of leadership seemed ambiguous; it did not emphasis the effectiveness of leadership and major characteristics. Leadership probably means having a long term vision and to stimulate the people follow he or she to achieve their common goal for the company’s future development. Strange and Munford (2002) believed that the direct leadership comes from the personal charismatic leadership; this could be the best way to influence and motivate people. Therefore, Wunderer and Grunwald (1980: 232) defined “leadership as a goal-oriented and social impact to fulfill common tasks in a structured work environment.” Because of many kinds of notions about leadership, it always led to confusion between leadership and management. As far as this point is concerned, the following essay will research the role of leadership in an essential position in the management environment. Simultaneously, it will evaluate the process of human resource management.
Human Resource Management
Human Resource Management system plays a significant role in a company or organization. It directly impacts on this organization’s strategic implementation in each step and controls the speed of development with their competitors in the same sphere. Heathfield (2010) proposed that “Human Resource Management (HRM) is the function within an organization that focuses on recruitment of, management of, and providing direction for the people who work in the organization. Human Resource Management can also be performed by line managers.” Moreover, in the past in USA, HRM concentrated on the human relations in the enterprise management and employees’ relations in the working environment; Due to industrial psychology, it applies consolidated systems and strategies commonly, HRM was also considered as personnel management (PM) in the UK (Chadwick and Beech, 2004). According to the above statements, it was obviously seen that a manager was set in a core position in the HRM system. The mangers main responsibility was to deal with issues related to people, such as recruitment, to choose who the most appropriate person for this vacancy is. As Taylor et al (2008) said the HRM system was the first level of administration in people management system, while encouraging more organizational activities. How can we evaluate the organization owns a good HRM system or not? It focuses on the Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) system. Operational effectiveness and strategic positioning were two fundamental methods to support the organization in outperforming their rivals in an industry (Porter, 1979). These two points could stimulate the organization have to perform better activities than other competitors and create some unique advantages in the same industry. However, Taylor et al (2008:128) commented that “a focused strategy requires a competitive position based on cost leadership or differentiation”.
Wright and McMahon (1992: 295) gave a definition of SHRM as, “the pattern of planned human resource deployments and activities intended to enable an organization to achieve its goals”. The purpose of SHRM was to choose the best appropriate candidate take part in their own organization whilst increase the organization marketing segment in the industry. Sport organization was a good example, each sport clubs would like to attract a famous coach or athlete, like in National Basketball Association (NBA). There was no doubt that NBA draft was the best opportunity to provide for each team to choose a potential player in every year. However, in the practice of organization, SHRM system did not only focus on some basic HRM skills, but also extended the range of relevant management techniques, for instance, high-commitment work system, the process of recruitment, leadership philosophy and the development of process of the organization (Taylor et al, 2008).
In brief, the present approach of SHRM still in the traditional HRM scope; it lacked practical circumstance for an organization to operate their performance in different situations. Particularly in a sport organization, if it could combine the HRM rational theory and operate the SHRM in a practical process of organization, it would bring more outcomes for the organization’s long term development. In addition, managerial leadership was an indispensable part in the SHRM. Hence, the next part of the essay will look at the differences between management and leadership.
Differences of Management and Leadership
Regarding the issue about relationship and the distinction between management and leadership, different people will have their different perspectives. In the early stage, a professor named John Adair (1988) made use of etymological origins to explain the difference in a magazine interview; Adair revealed that “leadership” stems from an Anglo-Saxon word; it means that a road, a way, the path of a ship at sea, a common sense of direction, whereas “management” was from a Latin word “manus”, it means a hand and it has to do with handling a sword, a ship, a horse. It is easy to remind people what entrepreneurial engineers and accountants were doing when starting and administration businesses and how they gained the currency in the 19th century. Nevertheless, since the leadership development in recent years, more functions have been appeared, such as planning, organizing and controlling work. These functions are similar to the functions of management in my view. Managers always make a plan, organize the activity and administrate the limit resources to realize some common objectives (Gill, 1997). Meanwhile, managers could communicate with his or her employees, but leaders usually influence and inspire his or her employees. Behind each leader there is a support team and followers, however, managers just have their subordinates. In my opinion, management focuses on implementing the whole plan through the manager’s ability and making the utmost of the managing resources, whereas leadership emphases the individual person’s idea and imbues with the main spirit to their employees. In brief, the final goal for good management or leadership is to win the hearts and minds of their people.
Leadership was deemed as a process of a leader to impart unique ideas to other people through his or her individual managing strategy. Popper and Zakkai (1994:3) believed that “the essence of leadership is to make people do what you want them to with as much will, determination and enthusiasm as if they had decided for themselves.” From the past several years’ research, leadership literature mainly focuses on: which types of leadership theory is close and more appropriate for present leader to exert their leadership function. Lewin et al (1939) implied that the subordinates’ performance decides which kind of flavor of leadership theory fits this organization; furthermore, different kinds of training programmes related with leadership have emerged. Notably in the current situation, outward bound development plan is the most popular approach was adopted in most organizations. The rest of this report will review some major theories of leadership and the purpose is to analyses of the real case in the last part then to propose some recommendations for improvement.
l Trait Theory
Leadership traits theory is the original theory and it concentrate on the leader’s characteristics. Cartwright and Zander (1968) stated that an effective leader should possess the following certain qualities: intelligence, reliability, sense of responsibility, greater energy and social activity. Regarding these qualities; it is easy to find that most of them require the leader to keep on cultivating himself in the future not are inborn. The ‘Personality Era’ of ‘Great Man’ theories were proposed by Van Sters and Field (1990:29) who said that “effective leaders at one time were believed to show common characteristics that cause them to behave in certain ways.” However, this theory was challenged in the 2000 World Economic Forum report. The report indicated that many successful companies always change their Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to ensure that their business prospers. Whereas most CEOs succeed in their first organization, they often fail when enter for a new organization. This point demonstrates that in fact the leaders have not acquired all the leadership traits and that is little connection between CEO style and organizational performance. Also the trait theory was not to judge the leadership situation.
l Situational Leadership and Contingency Theory
Situational theory is more focused on the situation and the group of followers. This way is more practical and good for the leader to acknowledge their followers and situations. This approach does not consider the whole organization or the current requirements of the individual leader’s group. Contingency theory of leadership mainly analyses three factors between leaders and followers. The first one is Fiedler (1968), who proposed the extending definition of the follower’s and of the work structure of the subordinate. The second one is how the leader uses his or her authority and depends on his or her subordinates. The third one is the existing relationship between the leader and followers. The leader’s charisma attracts the followers and the follower’s reverence for the leader.
l Leadership Style Theories
Leadership style theories are concerned with the leader’s behaviour and do not pay attention to the individual characteristics of the leader. Through these theories, some researchers discovered that the manager who considers the employee as the centre may gain more results and effects than the manager who focuses on tasks. This point is evaluated by the leader’s performance value. If the leader views the situation from the perspective of a boss, he or she priorities the tasks above the employees. However, if he takes the employee’s view into consideration, he or she values both the task and the employee. So the later approach is more encompassing. Of course, as a leader, pay more attentions on the employee behaviour can bring his or her work more benefits than only concern with the task as a centre.
l Transactional Leadership
This kind of leadership turns out to be more popular in most organizations. Popper and Zakkai (1994:6) accepted that “transactional leadership contains a basic mechanism of exchange relations which becomes possible when there is no outstanding sense of impending threat or anxiety”.
Transactional leaders shall use management-by-exception, actively or with contingent rewards (Gill, 1997). Generally, the management-by-exception includes making objectives and regulations, taking charge of the progress and discovering mistakes and then enhancing the effectiveness of leadership. However, transactional leadership ignores the employees’ desires and motivation; it focuses on how to achieve the goal through the followers. Many empirical examples prove that transactional leadership might cause performance that meets expectations (Gill, 2003).
l Transformational Leadership
This pattern of leadership is a good approach in order to stimulate the followers and subordinates’ interested in accomplishing the goal and enhance their self-development. Alderder (1972) agreed that transformational leadership should pay more attention to the leader’s developmental requirement. Furthermore, Bass (1991) revealed that there exist the following four aspects of transformational leadership behaviours.
- Individualised consideration
- Intellectual stimulation
- Inspirational motivation
- Idealised influence (charm)
Analysis of a Practical Sports Organisation Example
During a period as a sports trainee in Beijing, an example of a process of leadership change was witnessed by the author. This fitness club was set up in 2003 and it was been open for 5 years.
In the early period, the former fitness club manager’s original plan was run a small business and serve whiter collar workers and students around the university. Hence, his focus point is how to attract more customers and increase sale volume rather than make an integrated management system for his subordinates to enhance the whole level of this fitness club service. He is a typical laissez-faire leader in the hearts of his employee. Popper and Zakkai (1994:3) claimed that “an effective leader, according to the criteria of this approach, is a sensitive psychological diagnostician who accurately discerns subordinates’ needs and expectations and responds to them accordingly.” In addition, his behaviour assesses the various theories. When the employee proposes their suggestions or questions during each weekly meeting, the leader always says these opinions were correct but never realizes it. In terms of this point, several senior level coaches began to leave whilst some old customers also followed by their coach left this club. These results led to the club faceing bankrupt and merger by other large fitness corporation.
In 2005, this fitness club was taken over by the Bally Total Fitness Corporation. As the new leader was transferred to this club, he brought a totally new management system. He used transformational leadership theory, through exploiting subordinates intellectual stimulation and inspirational motivation to improve employee vision. Transformational leadership is more important when the company faces uncertain markets. A new recombination has to be innovated to remain in the competitive environment (Gill, 1997). First of all, he reformulated the current staff while reducing the number of staff. Second, he advised each coach to take ACE (America Certificate Exercise) certificate to make use of their personal time. Third, he added some new reward regulations, such as providing a free nutritional breakfast for early morning shift employees. Furthermore, the company will organize one outside sports event consisting of employees and their family members to join in each year on anniversary day. Apart from these, to keep more regular customers and attract more potential customers, he adopted some kinds of exercise classes especially arranged different coaches for different ages. Another side is, he is a patient person who can listen to each employee’s suggestions about the club development and communicate with his employees frequently. For instance, one employee proposed that the club could publish their own health tips each month focus on their current membership. After one month, this was realized and club’s first month health tip flyer was put up in the club information bar. The theory of motivation, Horner (1997) stated that the degree of satisfaction of employees could be thought of as motivators; only one motivation the employee could achieve the goal. Others motivation theories were concerned with what behaviour the leader needs to influence their subordinates. Apart from that, Alderfer (1969:142) proposed that “there may be only three needs: existence needs, relatedness needs and growth needs in a hierarchy of concreteness, and people may be motivated by multiple needs at any one time.”
Since this new manager uses a logical leadership management method, it results in revenue fitness club turn flourishing and the scale began to extend. Of course, the marketing share also rank at the top compared with other competitors. However, the most essential reason is the new manager used a correct leadership theory and rationally applied the realization.
To sum up the role of leadership in a sport and leisure organizations, the leader’s behaviour could influence each subordinate’s psychology, the leader’s management method decides the company’s development trend to success or failure. Through the author’s experience of two leaders’ behaviour in a real sport and leisure organization, how to create more motivations for their employees, how to encourage their employees are more important and practical than only depend on some formal traditional leadership theories. The significant value for the leader is to let the subordinate follow your path of company development. Consequently, discovering more new management techniques from experience are the most effective ways to manage modern organizations.
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