Coaching Leadership to Achieve: Peak Performance

Subject: Leadership Styles
Pages: 83
Words: 32155
Reading time:
116 min
Study level: PhD

Introduction

In every college in America Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball coaches are prominent figures that serve as teachers, mentors, ethical practitioners, role models, and leaders who attempt to articulate and manipulate the mission and systems taught to influence others (Hicks & McCracken, 2010). In the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) successful and unsuccessful athletic coaches are often critiqued on one’s win-loss record, student-athlete grade point average, and retention/graduation rates. One arena that has gone largely unexamined from a leadership perspective is the context of sports coaching. Athletic coaches bear similarities and differences relative to business, spiritual, political, educational, or military leaders.

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The proposed study will explore the influence Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball coaches had on female athletes’ preferences for, and perceptions of coaches’ leadership behaviors and styles. Athletic and academic performance data were obtained from each (NCAA Division II, 2008). The role of the leader is critical and often transparent on athletic teams where organizational success is measured by team success and coaches are held accountable for the teams’ performance (Pratt & Eitzen, 1989). The research topic of this proposed inquiry is to discover successful leadership styles in four women’s head basketball coaches from the Peach Belt Conference (PBC) representing NCAA Division II that appear to get the best performance out of athletes.

This mixed study seeks to explore why Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball coaching methods align to Dr. Jim Laub’s (1998), six characteristics of servant leadership through the use of his Organizational Leadership Assessment and which are most critical in leading a team to get the best performance out of athletes. A correlation analysis and analysis of variance techniques will be employed to examine the relationships and differences between preferred leadership styles, perceived leadership styles, influence in decision-making, satisfaction with participation, and job satisfaction to explore why a different leadership style may be needed to excel in coaching sports. Organizational Leadership Assessments will be conducted, along with observations to test emerging concepts, patterns, themes, and categories against subsequent data.

One important aspect of a coach’s leadership is the selection of coaching styles and methodologies used as a leader. The way in which a leader makes decisions, builds relationships, teaches skills and strategies, organizes training and competition, maintains team discipline, assigns roles and positions to athletes, communicates, makes efforts to satisfy athletes’ needs, and creates an appropriate motivational climate to maximize the team concept and all influence team cohesion and production (Heydarinejad & Adman, 2010). Leadership techniques that apply to the workplace are similar to those found in sports. When everyone on the team understands the direction and approach the leader/coach has developed, then success is much easier to obtain. This driving force of competition in sports as a coach and a player emphasizes more on leadership.

In full context the topic of leadership has been an in-depth topic of speculation for decades focusing on the effectiveness of leadership theories. Hundreds of leadership models center on different theories, different ways of evaluating effectiveness, different approaches for studying leadership, and how it forges and affects organizational outcomes and effectiveness (Wren, 1995). Each theory provides an opportunity to understand leader-follower relationships and method to use when attempting to motivate others (Avolio & Yammarino, 2008). New ideas and theories form underlie research into leadership styles in business and nonprofit organizations and other organizations, bearing strong similarities with leadership in coaching, the focus of this study. This study will focus on exploring various leadership styles used by Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball coaches by analyzing what leadership approach is most effective in terms of the specific outcome. One’s leadership behaviors relate to team performance and this study seeks to enhance the literature in area of coaching leadership to offer insight on successful leadership practices used in Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball.

Spears (1998) indicates a shift in this new century from a traditional autocratic and hierarchical style of leadership to a leadership style that promotes teamwork, sense of community, shared decision-making, and an ethical caring of qualities with the goal of improving others’ personal growth. This mixed study will take on a specific focus to explore the listed signs, behaviors, or attitudes that demonstrate the use of certain styles of leadership. To achieve improvement in athletic performance, it may be necessary for coaches to use leadership styles or engage in coaching behaviors to which athletes are most receptive.

Background

Today, basketball rates as one of the all-time most popular sports worldwide (Kellett, 1999). Women’s basketball has evolved greatly and needs more research in this designated field. The history of women’s basketball began shortly after Dr. James Naismith created the original game and rules in 1891 (“Women’s Basketball Online: Women’s Basketball Timeline”, n.d.). The roots of women’s basketball lead us back to Senda Berenson, born on March 19, 1868 in Vilna, Lithuania (“Women’s Basketball Online: Women’s Basketball Timeline”, n.d.). In 1892, she worked as Director of Physical Education and Instructor at Smith College (“Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame”, n.d.). She trained at the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics. Senda Berenson was hired at Smith in January 1892; one month after the game of basketball had been invented by James Naismith at the International YMCA Training School in nearby Springfield, Mass. At Smith College, Berenson instituted an effective program of Swedish gymnastics for female students and organized athletic contests in sports, such as volleyball, fencing, field hockey, and basketball (“Women’s Basketball Online: Women’s Basketball Timeline”, n.d.).

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Berenson read about the new sport of basketball and went to visit Naismith to learn more about the game (“Women’s Basketball Online: Women’s Basketball Timeline”, n.d.). Fascinated by this new sport and the values it could teach, Berenson organized the first women’s collegiate basketball game on March 21, 1893 between Smith College freshmen and sophomores (“Women’s Basketball Online: Women’s Basketball Timeline”, n.d.). Berenson, who advocated for women’s sports, had his thoughts inclined toward the limitations and restrictions, which would interfere with a female to avoid the unwanted roughness of the men’s game. To restrict the physical limitations, Berenson authored new rules first published in 1899, with Berenson becoming the editor of A.G. Spalding’s first Women’s Basketball Guide two years later (“Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame”, n.d.). Berenson died on February 16, 1954. On July 1, 1985, she was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as the first female enshrined (“Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame”, n.d.). At this time, the words gender equity did not exist. Women’s participation in sport has a long history marked by division and discrimination, although filled with major accomplishments by female athletes and important advancements toward the empowerment of women’s opportunities in sports.

The modern women’s movement achieved historic victory of gender equity on June 23, 1972, when Title IX was enacted as part of the Educational Amendments (“The National Collegiate Athletic Association”, n.d.). Within the established framework of human rights and sport for development and peace, a number of United Nations intergovernmental and treaty body processes, as well as other international and regional processes, have specifically addressed some of the critical gender equality issues in sports (Brake, 2010). Global and regional policy frameworks on women, gender equality and sport have been developed.

Title IX of the United States educational amendments prohibited sex discrimination in educational institutions receiving federal funds and opened the doors for drastically increased support for and participation in girls and women’s sports in high schools and colleges in the United States (Blumenthal, 2005). According to the official website of the National Collegiate Athletic Association indicates that Title IX requires women be provided an equitable opportunity to participate in sport; female athletes receive athletic scholarships proportional to participation; and that female athletes receive equal treatment of equipment and supplies, scheduling of games and practice times, coaching, practice and competitive facilities, access to tutoring, publicity and promotions, and recruitment of student athletes (“The National Collegiate Athletic Association”, n.d.). Title IX has also increased the salaries of coaches for women’s teams (“The National Collegiate Athletic Association”, n.d.).

It appears that over the years Women’s NCAA Division II College basketball coaches have had to battle gender equity issues and seizing upon opportunities to develop leaders. The inability of coaches to focus solely on one’s leadership style, watch videos, read books, study periodicals, attend clinics or colleges, and sharpen skills to best develop what is needed. To examine equitable athletic experiences among female college athletes, the satisfaction levels of female student-athletes, and identify coaching leadership methods used during successful coaching leadership practices is of interest.

Problem Statement

Research has shown in theory and practice leadership implications on the performance of employees in organizations including business and education, with little knowledge on leadership in sports teams. A parallel among employees and athletes on athletic teams exists when either working for a business or receiving grant in aid of revenue generating sports at the NCAA Division I and II institutions (McCormick & McCormick, 2006). Similar to other organizations, athletic team coaches’ leadership has the potential for personal/team success with implications on one’s performance (Wooden, 2005 p. 178). Observations and interviews have confirmed that different leadership styles including autocratic leadership of coaching athletes, though being ranked the most preferred, have leadership gaps for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team where contemporary literature falls short (Yukongdi, 2010).

As such, this study seeks to explore these differences and implications of the leadership styles, performance implications largely unknown, and the potential to address Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team leadership, providing coaches with increased awareness of the effect of one’s leadership style on performance and help determine the most effective leadership style. Toward that goal, decoding of primary data on leadership styles for coaches to use to excel in coaching sports, to maximize the athletic performance will underline the study. Interviews and observations will be conducted with data collection, analysis, and write-ups to explore various leadership tactics. Data collection will allow the research to have multiple events for thorough detailed analysis.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this mixed research study is to discover the best leadership style among different leadership styles for coaches in sports for teams and individuals to achieve peak performance among Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. It uses mixed methods which are both qualitative and quantitative through interviews, surveys, document analysis, observations, and archival research by examining and decoding the collected data with participants including four successful and unsuccessful Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball coaches’ and their impact of their leadership styles on individual/team performance. Toward that goal, the study examines the relationship between coaches’ different leadership styles and their consistency with the six characteristics of servant leadership using the Organizational Leadership Assessment, as framed, and defined by Dr. Jim Laub (1998).

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The Organizational Leadership Assessment will provide a comprehensive look at which qualities align with servant leadership characteristics and coaching perspectives. The population consisted of coaches of male gender, different ethnicities, containing different upbringings and professional qualifications. Twelve NCAA Division II female athletes and four NCAA Division II athletic directors, both groups range in ethnicities and will complete surveys that will relate to the variable of interest. The data compiled from the Organizational Leadership Assessment will reveal reasons whether or not there is a calling for new models of leadership in sport settings.

Significance of the Study to the Academic Field

The rationale of this study supports the need for quality athletic coaches’ leadership on the collegiate level. Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball coaches provide access to higher education when developing young women through various leadership methods. Colleges seek to recruit high character ethical leaders with knowledgeable backgrounds of the sport, establish positive relationships, and understand the role that athletics plays in education. Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball coaches must promote good sportsmanship, be role models for athletes and fans, have personal interest in the development of others, and attract student-athletes to the program. College athletics provide competition and encourage athletic success while promoting and enhancing the reputation of the school. Quality coaches encourage pride and school spirit in the student population and offer enriching opportunities for social development.

In addition, significant contributions are made to the development of individuals and teams as exemplified in one’s leadership roles with underlying leadership principles and concepts worthy emulating and replicating elsewhere toward excellent performance as individuals and teams. Teams generate additional revenues to further educate and prepare students. The value of leadership in education settings is unique, as leadership is needed in careers, family lives, and communities. By identifying the gap in knowledge for leadership in sports, the current study seeks to fill that gap and contribute positively to literature for providing the best leadership in sports and the community to integrate and provide positive leadership. Leadership is everywhere and there is a strong desire for effective leaders. This study will foster future literature on any correlations between leadership style of coaches and female college basketball player’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction for various coaching leadership tactics.

Nature of the Study

The studies problem identifies the need to investigate Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball coaching methods and a comparison to Laub (1998) six characteristics of servant leadership and which are most critical in leading a team to get the best performance out of athletes. Robert K. Greenleaf developed the concept of servant leadership in 1970. Greenleaf coined his definition of servant leadership as, “Process of enabling individuals to grow healthier, wiser, freer and more antonymous through the art of servant-hood” (Spears, 2009 p.20). Dr. Jim Laub (1998) defined his own definition of servant leadership as an understanding and practice of leadership that places the good of those led over the self-interest of the leader. The purpose communicates that the researcher could analyze various leadership methods used by Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball coaches to get the best performance out of one’s athletes. The research question seeks to explore specific characteristics that would classify servant leadership and could possibly reveal other methods of leadership.

The design for this study reviews a wide-angle view on multiple leadership styles and coaching perspectives. The mixed methodology is appropriate as the study examines experiences of the subjects through multiple perspectives as the researcher works in collaboration with 12 Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball student-athletes, four Women’s NCAA Division II college athletic directors, and four Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball coaches. The study involves an exhaustive search to identify servant leaders, and employed open-ended interview questions of 12 Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball student-athletes of all ethnicities. Data compiled from the surveys, observations, and interviews may reveal reasons there is a shift toward new models of leadership in sport settings. The population group for this study could be selected at random by each college athletic director via email communication of the 12 Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball student-athletes. Individuals in interaction with their professional environment could socially construct results. This study may unveil the need for qualified servant leaders to coach Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball.

A study of whether leadership styles can be characterized as servant-leadership is important for many reasons. To the author’s knowledge, no scholarly literature exists examining the similarities and differences between Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball coaches’ leadership styles and servant leadership. Most leadership literature revolves around business or academics lacking information in the field of athletics. This investigation of coaching leadership could fill a void in literature on this topic and may improve training policies and procedures for organizations that possess top priority in meeting goals and objectives while discovering the leadership style that works best to accomplish an organizational mission. Successful coaching practices make a study of leadership styles important to the field of leadership as a whole and to individuals everywhere who have a desire to influence others for the good of the organization or team. This study could analyze and review which qualities of servant leadership could contribute to successful leadership practices and how Dr. Jim Laub’s six characteristics of servant leadership may be applied to other key figures in history to determine the effectiveness of servant leadership.

Research Questions, Hypotheses, and Propositions

  • RQ1: To what extent are the servant leadership style’s six characteristics of authenticity, valuing people, developing people, and building community, providing leadership, and sharing leadership of the coaching leadership impact on the performance of the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team?
  • RQ2: What are the relative implications of democratic, charismatic, coaching, autocratic, transactional, transformational, situational, ethical, and inspirational leadership styles on coaching leadership with the servant leadership style on the performance of the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams measured from Dr. Jim Laub’s leadership assessment?
  • RQ3: Does servant leadership lead to greater success (one’s win-loss record, student-athlete grade point average, and retention/graduation rates) for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams?
  • RQ4: How does the servant leadership style for coaches lead to peak performance in the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams?

The first research question (R1) focuses on establishing the relationship between coaching leadership that uses the servant leadership style for the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team and ultimate implications the servant leadership attributes have on the performance of the team. To answer the first general research question, the second research question (R2) focuses on other leadership styles that have had leadership and performance implications on organizations, individuals, and sports with the aim of crystallizing not only the rationale for servant leadership, but also its implications on the performance of the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. Thus, leading to question four (R3), a specific question that inquires on the effectiveness of servant leadership, and its effectiveness as a leadership approach for coaches in sports to achieve peak performance in reflected in research question four (R4).

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HO (null hypothesis): There is no relationship among the six characteristics of displaying authenticity, valuing people, developing people, building community, providing leadership, and sharing leadership and the three areas of a quality college athletics program win loss record, student athlete grade point average, and retention, graduation rates.

H1 (alternative hypothesis): There is a strong relationship between the servant leadership style, coaching leadership, and peak performance of the Women’s NCAA Division II college team. A two-tailed test will reinforce the hypothesis by identifying the critical region within which the critical regions lie in either side of the lower and upper tails.

To ultimately attain the goal of answering the research questions paused above, this study will use mix methods to collect allowing the researcher to have multiple events to analyze in thorough detail, which will be constrained by predetermined biases. Data will be documented, detailed, and investigated on all subjects, groups, and institutions or other social units.

Conceptual/Theoretical Framework

Every discipline has concepts and theories, which shape research studies. This study presents a review of leadership theories and capability frameworks that will assist the development of aspiring leaders in the field of coaching sports. Each individual studied will offer insights into the qualities of successful leaders and identify any shifts in focus from generic characteristics and behaviors of the individuals to recognition of the importance of responding to different situations and contexts under a leaders’ role in relation to followers. This section on leadership presents a range of leadership theoretical frameworks currently being used in athletic organizations and could extend theory, practice, and methodology in coaching. To achieve this, proven leadership principles, assessment tools, tactics, traits, and frameworks based on a sports language with special focus on what is current with reflections on changing realities. This study focuses on an in-depth inquiry to reveal theoretical discussions on servant leadership based on the definition of leadership terms, inquiring into the body of theory and research linking to leadership that affects student-athlete performance. A model will be presented and tested that links servant leadership to an organizational culture defined by Dr. Jim Laub’s (1998) six characteristics of servant leadership.

Definitions

Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leadership is referred to as directive leadership whereby the leader controls employees with his or her power (Andrew, 2001). Power is not a form of leadership it is a form of control by intimidating employees (De Cremer, 2007). This often causes employees to resist direction and under perform job responsibilities (De Cremer, 2007). Presently there is a shift to incorporate new models of leadership in sport settings, which emphasize athlete empowerment, democratic behavior from coaches with less emphasis on traditional autocratic fear-based coaching models (Jamison, 2005).

Servant Leadership

Robert K. Greenleaf developed the concept in 1970. Greenleaf coined his definition of servant leadership as, “Process of enabling individuals to grow healthier, wiser, freer and more antonymous through the art of servant-hood” (Spears, 2009 p. 20). The servant leader devotes these elements to provide services to address organizational needs reflected in the services provided to employees led by the leadership unequivocally implying being an end in themselves but not a means to organizational purpose fulfillment. Spears (1998) draws upon Greenleaf’s writing and proposes ten key elements of servant leadership: listening, empathy, healing (of oneself and others), awareness of others, situations and oneself, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. The underlying servant leadership behavior draws on stewardship toward the organization and the people. The organization is held in trust by the servant leader to the public (Greenleaf, 1977), which is an objectives balanced by a deep commitment to developing the people based on an underlying sense of community throughout the organization (Greenleaf, 1977).

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership involves the leader’s ability to focus on task responsibilities (Bass, 1990). This model tagged by Max Weber in 1947 and again by Bernard M. Bass in 1981 seeks to motivate followers by appealing to their own self-interest (Bass, 1990). Transactional leadership is defined by the key element of “transactions” exchanged between the leader and the led, where the leader’s concern is to address the led’s needs while the follower externs energy to fulfill the transactional goals (Garner & Laskin, 2000). Transactional leadership is a leadership approach that uses a system of rewards and disciplinary measures to motivate employees (Bass, 1990). The social and economic transactions link the organization’s management to the people. Its principles are to motivate workers by the exchange of status and wages for the work effort of the employee (Wren 1995). In this case task accomplishments are key components defining a good worker under ttransacti0nal leadership style, which is the motivating component for the leader in shaping a leader’s behavior.

Transformational Leadership

Armstrong (2001) laid out four main characteristics of transformational leadership among coaches of sports teams: 1) ethical behavior 2) shared vision and shared goals, 3) performance improvement through charismatic leadership, and 4) leadership by example. Bass (1985) viewed transformational leadership from the perspective of leaders’ influence on subordinates, which causes change in individuals. Transformational leadership creates valuable and positive change in the followers with an end goal of developing followers into leaders (Bass, 1990). Transformational leaders influence subordinates to work and exceed original expectations (Yukl, 1989). Transformational leadership involves the ability to motivate followers to go beyond expectations to reach higher goals (Avolio & Yammarino, 2008).

Situational Leadership

The Situational Leadership model from Blanchard and Hersey certifies that leaders must use different leadership styles depending on the situation (Wren, 1995). This method allows you to analyze the needs of the situation you’re in, presumes that different leadership styles are better in different situations, and that leaders must be flexible enough to adapt styles to the situations (Hyung Hur, 2008). When the situational leader rightly combines task behavior and relationship behavior, followers are influenced to accomplish individual tasks as required (Hyung Hur, 2008). Close supervision of task execution under the driving force of directive behavior encompassing directions on how to perform assigned tasks, when and what to do define the situational leadership style (Wren, 1995). Situational leadership is designed to increase the frequency and quality of conversations about performance and development between managers and the people they work with so that competence is developed, commitment is gained, and talented individuals are performing at full potential (Hyung Hur, 2008). Leadership behaviors are appropriate in certain situations depending on the readiness of the followers to accomplish the task. According to the situational leadership model,” there is no, “one way” to go about leading or influencing others, it’s all about finding the “best possible way.”

Ethical Leadership

Ethics in sports is the rules of conduct followed by an individual player, team, coach and athletic organization (Weese, 1996). It is the guiding body of moral principles and values which are expressed in action or lack of action based on a decision making process (Weese, 1996). The forces underlying the thinking process and decision making of the ethical leadership style draw from individualism, altruism, pragmatism, and idealism which have associated pulls and tags that influence the balancing student/athlete issues, performance effectiveness, team practices, guiding rules, products, and conditioning in sports (Weese, 1994).

Inspirational Leadership

Relying on creating emotional intelligence in one’s followers, inspirational leadership style’s underlying strengths include encouraging subordinates, ability to provide team leadership, being a legacy builder, aware of existing opportunities with strategies to exploit such opportunities to the expectations by creating an enabling environment for the followers to optimize individual energies, being an enabler for those who are led, flexible and socially adaptable, and driven by strong belief that remains focused toward a given goal (Doherty & Danylchuk, 1996). The ability to create emotional attachments in the followers leader toward a common goal based on tools such as trust, truthfulness, paying attention to each individual with due regard to each person’s traits, being reflective, enthusiastic, having self-belief, single mindedness, valuing and being the people’s champion, ability to building legacies and willingness to take responsibility to the better or the worst defines an inspirational leader (Weese, 1994).

This type of leadership heavily relies on the ability of the leader to appeal to the inner feelings of the followers. Weese (1994) says that an inspirational leader should be in a position to make followers feel that they can go beyond one’s current limits. This scholar says that the beginning of being a successful inspirational leader is by winning the admiration of the followers. In most cases, an inspirational leader would be an admirable personality in character or otherwise. It may not require an individual to perform extra ordinary responsibilities to be considered an inspirational leader. It may only demand a high degree of consistency, single mindedness, ability to organize people around a given purpose, reflections, team leadership, valuing others, being proactive, and in actions of an individual and the actions should be those that are considered acceptable within the given society.

Democratic Leadership

The strength of democratic leadership style is the political attachment established between the leader and the followers. The key elements defining democratic leadership include personal thoughts, collaboration between team members and the leader, effective communication both vertically and horizontally within an organization and in this case between team members in the basketball team, consensus and evaluative input toward solving a problem with a positive impact in the environment it have applied (White & Lippitt, 1960). This style of leadership stimulates motivation by stirring emotional intelligence in organizational members toward the attainment of a specific goal with positive implication in the overall organizational performance, in this case team members in Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team. The strength of the democratic leadership style draws on self-sacrifice, motivation toward the attainment of a certain goal, active participation of the leader toward the underlying goal, courage irrespective of the working environment, social considerations, and consideration of the cultural context of the leadership role specific to a certain environment (Luthar, 1996).

Charismatic Leadership

Charismatic leadership is another type of leadership that has become very popular in the current world. Defined as “resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him” (Weber, 1947), the charismatic leadership style’s underlying strengths include psychological leadership qualities for creating a strong bond between the leader and the follower, the leader’s attributes, ability of the leader to fit into the social need and exploit an environment in demand radical ideas to solve existing problems, ability to create followers, ability to take risks, high degree of confidence, articulation and strategic vision, and the ability to identify member needs and respond with radical ideas to address one’s needs. Luthar (1996) views a charismatic leader as one who heavily relies on motivation with the ability to charm followers through one’s speech. Speech is the strongest tool of a charismatic leader. Communication is very important.

Targeting the right people with the right form of message and in the right manner and time could allow the leader to exercise influence to guide followers. Many of the current democratic leaders heavily rely on charisma in order to attain leadership position. Armstrong (2001), states that several charismatic leaders have used speech to achieve different desires. The ability to clearly articulate message properly to the followers is the basis of a charismatic leader. A charismatic leader understands the mood of the followers before influencing them in the desired direction. The main disadvantage of this type of leadership is that a leader may be forced to conform to some norms that may be considered unethical simply because the community upholds the norms.

Coaching Leadership

Hodgkinson (2009) argues that coaching leadership targets the development of talent to attain the full potential of a team under the influence of corporate culture supported on an organization’s infrastructure embedded in its corporate culture for effectiveness (Larson & Richburg, 2003). It is a general definition is multidisciplinary. Leadership is not an inborn aptitude, but a transferable skill to guide team members toward an effective execution of team tasks, in working toward social cohesion, and in the attainment of individual development. Coaching leadership in the context of Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball coaching draws on coaching leadership elements to develop and enhance team members’ skills to achieve maximum performance (Larson & Richburg, 2003).

In this case, the coach’s role is to direct team members toward the attainment of specific goals to develop the team. Analytically, the coach’s primary leadership responsibility is the entire team before targeting individuals as a secondary role. In the event that a team member’s development gets in the way of the team in the acquistion and use of a particular skill, the team leader focuses on the development of the team until a specific goal is attained before embarking on the development of the individual in need. The coach’s leadership’s tenets are grounded on clarity in training of members in the acquisition of leadership skills, task effectiveness in task executions, coachability of team members, organizational and individual commitment toward specific goals, clarity of objectives, course of action to take, and confidentiality influencing a team’s effectiveness in context (Larson & Richburg, 2003) calling for a sense of loyalty and a sacrificial roles.

Peak Performance

Team performance, which formed the basis for evaluating the team performance, was questioned in Chelladurai’s (1990) studies. In this study, peak performance is defined “as advancement in an athlete’s pursuit of excellence” (LeUnes & Nation, 2002) with higher levels of performance forming the basis for the operational definition of the athletes’ performance. This study is important because every organization yearns for leadership. Leadership starts at the top of any successful organization and empowers others to succeed when individuals fulfill individual responsibilities (Turman & Schrodt, 2004). A lack of leadership primarily leads to organizational failure with leadership being the only competitive force underlying the success or failure, which is unequaled with variables including technology, finance, or others organizational variables (Turman & Schrodt, 2004). Leadership builds resources, organizational employees, and operational factors based organizational strategies formulated by the leadership, with performance being the key focus. This study will affect leadership practice and the epistemological approach in which coaches use to influence others to achieve one’s personal best.

Assumptions

Various leadership models draw on across multidisciplinary definitions. Activities executed, based on the human psychological function, should be directed. That necessitates for the need for a leadership role on the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team. Without the basic definition of a leadership style drawing directly from the context of a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team, the working definitions will be multidisciplinary depending on the area targeted for discussion and context of application. Gender cannot impede one in becoming an effective leader if one develops for the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team leadership.

Scope

The study entails establishing the best leadership approach when working with a basketball team to achieve peak performance by conducting qualitative and quantitative studies on different leadership models, with a specific focus on servant leadership style for a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team.

Limitations/Delimitations

Limitations

Procedural limitations for the current study excluded from the study include using search strategies specific to the problem and scholarly work being studied, time allotment for the study, which the research addressed based on the scope defined for the study, limiting the number of study design to manageable levels within the context of the research and available tools, imposition of methodology checks of counterchecking progress against methodology outlined standards, and a small sample size that represents the entire population based on qualitative research on various leadership styles with the servant leadership as the focus that draws on practical implications on different organizations with an analogy to sports leadership. The latter forms a string point of focus as little research has been conducted into servant leadership as the most appropriate for leadership for coaches in sports.

Delimitations

The current study is multidisciplinary drawing widely on various leadership theories and practices with a specific focus on servant leadership for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. The results could not be generalized but specifically target the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team coaching leadership style to achieve peak performance. Individual questionnaires administered may reveal individual attitudes or evidence toward the leadership style of preference. Being open ended, the questionnaires present the problem of assigning numerical values to subjective answers that depend on the attitude of an individual that cannot be evaluated on a scale. Here, the research could employ closed ended questionnaires to address the subjectivity problem making it a crucial point to consider when collecting data. Other concerning issues include time devoted to the research to avoid weakness associated with time in analyzing and correlating data and cost overruns. Each study draws on materials obtained using search engines from particular databases and other materials subject to the biasness of the research. These weaknesses have little impact on the quality of the report based on the professionalism employed in conducting the research.

Summary

Leadership variedly affects each sphere of life underlying the success or failure experienced in goal oriented task execution. It is not only the case with organizational performance such as military, spiritual, etc., but also the performance of student-athletes on Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. The leadership of the basketball coaches plays significant roles as teacher, mentors, ethical practitioners, role models, and leaders exemplified in different leadership forms. Whereas that remains true of a leader, the underlying leadership influence directly impacts on success or failure of a group, in this case the performance of a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team.

The critical role played by the leader is often transparent on team members, strongly correlating with team performance. Leadership skills underlying the team leader’s decision-making has direct implications on team building and relationships development, team discipline, approaches used to assign roles and responsibilities to each team member, and the creation of a motivating environment for team members. It is crucial for the team leader to develop appropriate leadership coaching skills to address the dynamic needs of athletes under one’s leadership. To attain that goal, one needs to draw on different leadership theories developed over time by conducting a synthesis of existing leadership theories relevant to the current study with a focus on servant leadership style. The servant leadership style is proposed as the best leadership style for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams to attain peak performance, one of the most popular sports in the world of sports today. The background leading to the success stories in leadership began with Dr. James Naismith who creator of the original game and rules.

Dr. James Naismith worked in different capacities at different physical training facilities while conducting athletic contests in sports, such as volleyball, fencing, field hockey, and basketball, with others including Berenson contributing significantly to the development of the game, apparently appealing to different admirers. That culminated in the successful development of the game and women’s basic rights in sports propelling the game further. The universal declaration of human rights, requiring that women be awarded equal opportunity in the realms of the Title IX that requires women be provided an equitable opportunity to participate in sport; female athletes receive athletic scholarships proportional to participation; and that female athletes receive equal treatment of equipment and supplies, scheduling of games and practice times, coaching, practice and competitive facilities, access to tutoring, publicity and promotions, and recruitment of student athletes. Thus, the battle for gender equity had been launched as is evident among Women’s NCAA Division II College basketball coaches, with significant success. While the battle for gender equity had been won, the battle for successful performance of Women’s NCAA Division II College basketball teams remains an issue to address.

The current study will use mixed methods to determine the leadership style for different coaches that are consistent with the six characteristics of the servant leadership style. Twelve NCAA Division II female student-athletes and four NCAA Division II athletic directors, with varied ethnicities, qualifications, training, education, and gender will complete surveys relating to the variable of interest.

The rationale is to develop a study that identifies the best leadership style to adopt to get quality athletes based on quality coaches for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball to promote good sportsmanship, be role models for athletes and fans, and attract student-athletes to the program. That could translate to best performing athletes and coaches toward the attainment of peak performance for the athlete and the coach while the study serves as a criterion for judgment when selecting leaders for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. Quality coaching with special emphasis on the servant leadership style optimizes coaching and leadership skills to provide athletes with competitive training and motivation for the trainee, whereas positively impacting further on the educational development and career of the student-athlete with quality training.

The study design reviews a wide selection of leadership styles applied across disciplines relative to the coaching leadership, focusing on twelve Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball student-athletes, four Women’s NCAA Division II college athletic directors, and four Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball coaches employing open-ended interviews questions, of 12 Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball student-athletes of different ethnicities. Data compiled from the surveys, observations, and interviews may reveal reasons for a shift toward new models of leadership in sport settings. A random population selection criterion will ensure equity and fairness in regards to each college athletic director via email communication of the 12 Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball student-athletes. Interviews, survey instruments, document analysis, and observations will constitute approaches for documenting data.

Among the leadership styles to evaluate include autocratic leadership with key defining elements including directive control, intimidation, control, resistance, and underperformance. On the other hand, servant leadership defined by a dedication in offering services to others, is characterized by listening, empathy, healing (of oneself and others), awareness of others, situations and oneself, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. A departure from servant leadership focuses on the transactional leadership style that focuses on tasks based on the exchange of transactions between the leaders culminating in the attainment of specified goals. Other leadership style to focus on include transformational leadership with the key elements including:

  1. ethical behavior,
  2. shared vision and shared goals,
  3. performance improvement through charismatic leadership, and
  4. leadership by example, situational leadership characterized by changing leadership style depending on unfolding situations, task behavior, willingness to work, and other elements in the definition.

Here, ethical leadership is defined by the basic element of conduct, norms, and values as the moral guiding principles, an underlying thinking process characterized by individualism, idealism, pragmatism, and altruism with the tugs and pulls they naturally create in the context of recruiting, balancing student/athlete issues, practices, conditioning, performance improvements, products, and the rules and guidelines. The study also borrows from inspirational leadership that draws on the inspirational characteristics of the leader, peak performance leadership with the underlying evaluation based on team performance as the key to success. A complete study adds coaching and the democratic leadership style. That being a summary of the current layout of the study, assumptions include definitions of a leadership styles drawing directly from the context of Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team, with the working definitions being multidisciplinary depending on the area targeted for discussion and context of application. Nonetheless, the study suffers from limitations, which include applying the study findings to the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team leadership with the option of generalizing the findings at the user’s discretion.

Literature Review

Introduction

During the 1990s researchers have witnessed an unparalleled explosion of interest in the practice of servant leadership, but without linking the research to leadership in sports. To draw and align the servant leadership style with the leadership in sports with the aim to optimize performance in sports, the current study draws on sources including peer-reviewed articles, and several hundreds of sources provided for in the documentation. That includes the historical context of servant leadership and gender in sports by Anderson and Gill (1983) who have researched on gender in sports, Barnett, Smoll, and Smith (1992), among other authors, based on the working context of the definition of a successful coach. Systems used to train coaches, with underlying elements of leadership motivation, that drive players to achieve peak performance in sports inform the study (MacLean & Chelladurai, 1995; Williams, 1983; (Williams & Miller, 1983; Mannie, 2005). The attributes of the servant leadership style are crucial for team leadership success.

The leadership style could be analogues to the leadership for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams, and how the leadership attributes underlie the achievement of peak performance in sports (Armstrong, 2001). The aim is to identify the best leadership style, among several other leadership styles that have been applied in formal organizations that could serve as the learning point and analogous to the successful performance of the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. Towards that end, the study draws on leadership systems used to train coaches as discussed by Williams and Miller (1983) and Mannie (2005) among other authors recognize the communication component as an essential tool for leadership training, and the overall implications on the performance of a leadership style in pursuing best results. Here, the study focuses on gender implications on leadership and instructional delivery by drawing on the research, among others, Fasting and Pfister (2000), who discuss on cross gender leadership behaviors. Special focus is given to the gap in the literature on women in leadership as established based on the perspective of the social roles of women and men (Eagly & Karau (200).

Here, the link between leadership in sports for the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams provides the basis to study the seven leadership characteristics, which include clarity motivation, reflections, persuasion, conceptualization, awareness, context, and commitment which when aligned with the servant leadership style based on Dr. Jim Laub’s six characteristics of the servant leadership, can be paralleled with the best leadership for the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. The literature is rich in content on the best leadership style that can be adopted and merged into the leadership for the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams to achieve peak performance. Towards that end, the literature on servant leadership in sports from a historical perspective, models of servant leadership style, a comparative study of literature on leadership styles, which includes the transactional, transformational, inspirational, situational, and charismatic leadership models with the servant leadership style are discussed to reinforce the position that the servant leadership style is the best for the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. The literature is blended with Dr. Laub’s six servant leadership characteristics to crystalize its fitness in sports.

Documentation

Sources considered in this review include, books, peer-reviewed scholarly journals, and professional publications in the fields of coaching sports and leadership. To conduct a literature review, a search strategy included accessing a number of databases and sources through the University of Phoenix Library Online search engines, such as ProQuest, Gale Power Search, and EBSCOhost. Search terms used included: coaching leadership relating leadership approaches and underlying theories, gender, women in leadership and analogy to the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams.

Hundreds of searches produced references to scholarly books, peer-reviewed articles, and a large numbers of peer-reviewed journal articles were examined. These research databases offered a vast amount of literature pertaining to coaching leadership, leadership theories, and strategies for coaching sports, how one may enhance coaching abilities, how different gender coaches perceive leadership practices, and models of leadership coaches use to excel in the field of sports. Literature on the servant leadership style, other leadership styles considered in the study, implications on organizational performance, when compared with the servant leadership’s six characteristics as the yardstick to evaluate effectiveness in organizational performance will be conducted by and based on historical research to current materials on servant leadership and other leadership styles and the implications in sports with special emphasis on the coaching leadership for the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams.

From the historical perspective, authors including Case (1984), Chelladurai and Saleh (1980), Pratt and Eitzen (1989), Wren (1995), Anderson and Gill (1983) discuss gender in sports, Barnett, Smoll, and Smith (1992) on coaching leadership and motivational implications on team performance, and Bass (1985) correlates leadership to performance among others. Bass (1990) links theory to practice and implications on leadership, while Bird (1977) focuses on leadership and team attributes. Authors of modern perspectives of leadership include Heydarinejad and Adman (2010), Avolio and Yammarino (2008), Armstrong (2001), Avolio and Yammarino (2008) on transformational leadership in sports, Bardes, Mayer, and Piccolo (2008), Banutu-Gomez (2004), Andrew (2001), Annette, Joseph, and Clifford (2010) on practical implications of servant leadership in organizations, Bell and Habel (2009), Brake (2010) focuses on strategic approach to leadership by coaches, Blumenthal (2005) links leadership theory to practice, Boiche, and Sarrazin (2009) examines reasons for dropouts from teams that impede team performance.

Bowman (2000) compares different leadership styles, among others have researched and written widely on leadership and leadership styles across different disciplines, developing a common consensus that leadership has been and is regarded as playing the most significant role underlying the success or failure toward the attainment of success in any discipline. Widely read, research has shown that leadership in different forms has a strong implication on the performance of any organization. Baric and Bucik (2009) provides a modern view of leadership motivation. In theory, Barrow (1977) defines leadership in relation to the behavioral process that influences the attainment goals and objectives with a strong correlation to the performance of an institution or organization, when they assert that leadership is “the behavioral process of influencing individuals and groups toward set goals” p.32. That is widely accepted as a leadership approach for organizations. A knowledge gap appears as to the best leadership style for sports coaching leadership, among the leadership styles used on formal organizations, which comes in different forms.

Avolio and Yammarino (2008), among other authors agree with the fact that leadership comes in a variety of forms that strategically aim to provide guiding roles defined by the inherent characteristics of the leadership style and the leader (Wren, 1995). These leadership styles ranging from autocratic, servant, transactional, transformational, situational, ethical, inspirational democratic, charismatic, and coaching leadership styles, in theory and practice have been proven to create different implications and outcomes on those who are led toward the attainment of specific performance objectives and goals (Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Tichy & Devanna, 1986; Locke, 1991; Shashkin, 1986). It is crucial to note that these leadership styles have different leadership implications for different leadership situations and environments. That has been widely accepted to be the case with leadership styles and implications not only on organizational performance, but the performance of individuals in such organizations (Fiedler & Garcia, 1987). That is also the case in sports.

Sports require that the coach or leader of the organization provide a kind of leadership based on a leadership style to ensure success and optimal performance of individuals among the team. A case in point is Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams, the focus of this study’s leadership style. Not much has been researched into the leadership provided by team leaders or coaches for athletic teams and more specifically, the leadership style with its underlying characteristics to achieve peak performance among Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. This study endeavors to study the literature from different sources on leadership styles, with a focus on servant leadership to identify the most appropriate or best leadership style that provides coaches with abilities to attain optimal or peak performance for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams.

It is critical to comment that while success or failure has been attributed to the skills of the leader and the leadership style for organizational performance, it is with equal enthusiasm that a parallel be drawn from organizational leadership style and one’s impact on the performance of such organizations on the performance of coaching leadership in sports. Ideally that alludes to the fact that organizational leadership principles and theories are equally applicable in providing leadership when coaching sports. One could affirm that it is the question of leadership skills transferred across disciplines. A parallel, as mentioned above can be drawn between organizational leadership and coaching leadership with the leadership principles and underling theories equally applicable in both scenarios with similar implications on performance among Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. Thus, one cannot overemphasize that leadership and the leadership styles are crucial components in the success or failure of the performance of Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams, compelling the need to study leadership styles and the implications on team performance or attainment of goals, drawing a parallel between organizational performance and sports performance with specific emphasis on a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team.

This study will draw on the use of various sources of literature by different authors who have conducted qualitative and quantitative research on leadership in different organizations with a special emphasis on the servant leadership style. The study will then draw a parallel of the leadership styles applied in different organizations to the coaching leadership for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. A number of articles on different forms of leadership and implications on organizational performance with special reference to servant leadership and implications on sports leadership for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team to achieve peak performance as summarized in the table 1 below.

Table 1.
Sources and Items to Investigate Leadership styles Authenticity, Providing leadership, Valuing people, Developing people, Building community, Providing leadership, Sharing leadership Sources for Leadership Theories and Practice
Journals Peer reviewed articles Popular articles Text books Total Recency %
Leadership (Concept, theories, and practical applications) in Organizations 14 2 2 5 21 85
Servant Leadership 12 3 1 1 15 87
Autocratic 4 1 5 90
Situational 3 3 90
Transformational 5 5 60
Ethical 6 6 60
Inspirational 1 1 50
Peak Performance 4 4 80
Democratic 3 3 50
Charismatic 3 2 5 90
Coaching/Sports Leadership 17 2 19 90
Women Leadership 4 4 90
Students Perceptions 3 3 90
Sports and Psychology 9 9 86
Leadership and Gender 3 1 4 90
Career Development 1 1 90

Summary

Receny >85%, founding theorists-, Empirical research studies-, Peer reviewed articles-10, books-7, Gap = Yes

Defining a Successful Coach

When evaluating the makeup of a successful coach, the first priority is to establish parameters to understand how a coach is measured for definition. Success in sports is when peak performance is achieved among athletic teams and is the underlying component that qualifies an athletic coach to be regarded as an effective leader when the coach has created a well-functioning team. On the collegiate level successful coaches are defined by win loss record, student-athlete grade point average, and retention/graduation rate. The science and art of coaching is the ability to teach and motivate others with a positive attitude and enthusiasm for the game. Players are motivated when leadership emphasizes the attainment of peak performance (MacLean & Chelladurai, 1995). The science of coaching is the ability to teach skills, techniques, game systems, and strategies (MacLean & Chelladurai, 1995).

In-depth skills, knowledge, sports strategies, tactics, appropriate planning, clear comprehension of game rules and individual strengths and weaknesses underlie a successful coach. The basis for creating a successful coach in this case is the servant leadership style adopted by the coach with the underlying six characteristics, which provides the basis for arguing that a specific leader is successful. Researchers scantly argue and link a successful coach with the performance success. Many authors make observations when success has been achieved and attribute that to the coach. Possibilities flourish around other variables that intervene toward team success, implying the need to get to the bottom of what really defines a successful coach. Different researchers provide different definitions of success. Leland (1988) considers a successful coach as one who prepares team members to play with the aim of achieving success in different levels of sporting activities. A gap, which Leland (1988) did not address, included the failure to identify how a team becomes ready to play at other higher levels without prior preparations to make the team a well-functioning unit that grow as a team toward perfection.

The key points are preparedness, and a well-functioning team. Athletic coaches must understand complex team dynamics, and the forces that work inside teams including team conflicts and how to solve such problems and the requirements of an effective team. At the level of Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams, a successful coach has competent knowledge of basketball, is passionate about the game and the team members, and clearly understands what team members need to perform effectively (Leland, 1988). That is achieved by “paying attention to the player’s emotions, strengths, and weaknesses are the responsibility of a good coach” (Deci & Ryan, 1985). LeUnes and Nation (2002) described the role of a successful coach as being concerned with athletes’ overall welfare through life lessons without stimulating negative emotions in the players. The athletic coach has to have strong control of one’s emotions, be able to communicate clearly with others parents and young athletes, establishing an atmosphere that fosters trust, understanding of what winning requires, and the flexibility to learn effective ways to communicate and work through adverse situations. Tony Dungy defines emotional intelligence as the collection of four types of skills: perception and expression emotions, understanding of emotions, usage of emotions, and managing of emotions (Leland, 1988).

The coach establishes and attempts to achieve defined performance goals as argued by (MacLean & Chelladurai, 1995). A combination of life experience and in-depth knowledge combined enables the coach to define what winning and performing to success means. According to MacLean and Chelladurai (1995), the skills acquired and developed with time and experience can be taught to team members with a level of skill, which can be emulated by team members who learn from the servant leader. While this information defines a successful coach, situations that arise when at competition require the coach to be a patient person who avoids yelling and other behavior that may have negative implications on the attitude of team members with gradual implications on one’s performance. Deci and Ryan, (1985) and LeUnes and Nation (2002) view these as tactics, skills, techniques, personal responsibilities, others’ welfare, and adequate planning to advance the skills of athletes and define a successful coach.

Systems to Train Coaches

In sport, the role of the athletic leader has been under-examined and specifically, how training models relate to a coaches development and role has never been studied. Williams and Miller (1983) and Mannie (2005), state that several of today’s athletic coaches do not recognize how to be an effective leader because they were not awarded the position based on one’s leadership skills, but assigned these titles based on personal powers to accomplishment success in sports. Studies conducted by Williams (1983) coincide with the studies by Laios, Theodorakis, and Gargalianos (2003), which affirm that winning gives coaches’ power or social credibility. Many coaches were former players who advance in the profession without perfecting a craft. Studies by Fitzgerald, Sagaria, and Nelson (1994) established that 94.5% of athletic directors were titled on their accomplishments, a study widely agreed by Armstrong (1993) while promotions for assistants were based on winning teams.

The need to train coaches has received little support and attention in basketball with available models receiving inadequate attention. To be an effective coach one must realize without a standard against which to practice or measure one’s abilities the lack of creditability or validity one may have is null and void. The gap shown here is the need to train coaches who in turn train team members who significantly contribute to the successful performance of a team (Williams & Miller, 1983; Mannie, 2005). Faulty criteria used to award leadership to coaches lack underlying qualities. Many of the coaches assigned leadership positions were associated with the level of success in performance of team members without due regard of the leadership traits or leadership style the coach could adopt and the ultimate impact the leadership style could have on the performance of team members. Williams (1983) and Laios, Theodorakis, and Gargalianos (2003) conducted studies that showed the significance of winning in sports leading to the coach gaining a status both in society and within the team. The coach who is the servant leader in that case views success as tool for social creditability. Many of the coaches and team members regard success from the coach’s abilities without much regard on the underlying leadership style.

Coaches’ training models can be based on communication as a heuristic value with the instructional communication component affected through courses, clinics, camps, books, playing experience, and emulating and learning from elite coaches and athletes (Carter & Bloom, 2009). Other learning and training approaches include making observations, which impact positively on experience, and internal and external reflections (Werthner & Trudel, 2006). The training and learning elements for coaches have been shown by Anderson and Gill (1983) to be attained through formal educational preparation on the university level with other coaches developing skills through experience. Training and experience through high school to university levels play significant roles in coaching leadership for basketball teams for leaders to tactically equip teams to successful performance (Cregan, Bloom, & Reid, 2007). That enables coaches who have acquired knowledge and skill of various leadership styles to inculcate the essential components likely to stimulate and motivate team members to exert efforts to achieve the synergy required to attain ones fullest potential to succeed and achieve peak performance in sports (Schinke, Bloom, & Sahnela, 1995).

Models of Leadership in Sports

Even though general leadership theories have been conceptualized since the beginning of the twentieth century as established by Bass (1990) and other authors, leadership in sports has only been studied within the last 30 years, reinforcing the need to study current leadership trends in sports (Danielson, Zelhart, & Drake, 1975; Turman, 2003).

From an historical point of view, Conner (1998) views a leader as an agent of change, agreeing with modern leadership theories and widely accepted notion that the leadership style a leader adopts with the underlying characteristics of the leader are compelling factors for the success or failure of an organization toward the attainment of specific goals and objectives across the gender divide (Brake, 2010; Blumenthal, 2005). That is in line with the thinking adopted by Dubin (1965), who argues that organizational effectiveness and the leadership style are complimentary. Critically, effectiveness draws on trust the leadership develops with team members, teamwork, good working relationships, and open mindedness, setting and pursuing goals as a team with encouragement from the leadership, good communication between the coach and team members. According to Dubin (1965), the leadership style adopted by the coach or leader should have strong implications on the performance of the team and each individual on the team. Hicks and McCracken (2010), affirm that leaders serve the purpose of articulating and manipulating systems by serving as teachers, mentors, ethical practitioners, and role models toward the success of an organization.

The fundamental components in a leader are to inculcate trust, respect, teamwork, entrusting relationships between team members and the leader, show strong accountability and take leadership roles and responsibilities toward the attainment of success in sports, and uphold high ethical standards in leadership in sports. Dubin (1965) radically departs on the implications of the leadership style used to run organizations showing significant differences in sports (Pratt & Eitzen, 1989). While the prevailing characteristics among Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams and individual team members in question have not been defined to allow for such a conclusion, the assumptions inferred by Dubin (1965) could not be taken as blanket cover for the leadership of Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. Dubin (1965) communicates supporting research, which infers that organizational members, in this case the members of the basketball team could attain success, which could be linked to effective and supportive leadership.

Dubin (1965) does not provide a detailed study of the leadership skills and traits successful leaders should be characterized with. At this point, one could borrow from the arguments and research conducted by Stogdill (1974) who identified a number of traits and skills a leader should be characterized with to be successful. That could lead to the conclusion that the leadership style and the traits and skills of the leader are complimentary. One could critically, argue that whether an excellent leadership style has been identified to address, with effectiveness, the leadership of Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams, if the leader has not inculcated specific skills and traits specific to the sports discipline, the leader, may risk a chance in providing successful coaching leadership, based on the leadership style identified. Thus, it is crucial to argue that the leadership style adapted by the coach and the characteristics skills of the coaching leader provide an enabling environment for peak performance of a sports team, as could be applied to a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team. Theories underlying different leadership styles and the leadership traits and skills will be discussed later in another section.

Whereas the success or failure in the performance of a team in the sports world is always strongly attributed to the skills and abilities attributed from each teams coach embedded in the leadership style characterizing the coaches leadership style. Lee and Chuang (2009), share one of the proponents attributing to successful leadership practices depends entirely on the collaborative effort of the team leader. Collaboration toward the attainment of organizational performance is a leadership tool to enhance individual and organizational interactions is demonstrated, as one could deduce in leadership variables that include honesty and integrity, establishment of good relationships, good organizational and individual interactions, trustworthiness, integrity, and good communication skills, and conflict resolution strategies that address organizational development and stability.

A fact Stogdill (1957) strongly regarded as fundamental to the success of a team. It is with equal passion that studies conducted by Lee and Chuang (2009) and Stogdill (1957) can be applied to coaching leadership among basketball teams with special reference to a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team. That could be summed in the famous words of John Wooden who says that, “success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming” (Wooden, 1997 p.174). The objective is to attain peak performance for each team member and ultimately the team, success that is always attributed to the coaching leadership provided by the coach. Proceeding there is a need to examine different kinds of leadership styles and the contribution toward the performance of the entire team.

Gender Difference in Coaching Styles

Gender is a very important issue in the current society. Fasting and Pfister (2000) argue that one of the subjects that has been not been focused is the role of gender dissimilarities and instruction in cross-gender state of affairs that is, male trainer for female sportspersons. This relates to leadership behaviors and team performance (Fasting & Pfister, 2000; Cortini, 2009; Howell, 2011; Smisek, 1996). Coaching gender plays an important role not only in mere technical terms of coaching but also in psychological aspects, supporting athletes on different levels of development. Coaches influence athletes’ self-esteem (Barnett, Smoll, & Smith, 1992), skill learning (Chelladurai, 1984), mental development (Gould, Dieffenbach, & Moffett, 2002), sport performance satisfaction (Horn, 2002), as well as performance outcomes (Horne & Carron, 1985, Schliesman, 1987). Gender plays a role in terms of coaching behaviors and gender preference, in practical terms, when athletes, administrators, and sport societies think about selecting a coach.

Coach behavior has a deep influence on athletes’ wellbeing, both in individual and team sports (Barnett, Smoll, & Smith, 1992). When coaches convey a genuine caring for an athlete’s wellbeing, in turn, it may be a key to sustain motivation, which plays a fundamental role in avoiding dropout, especially in young athletes (Boiche & Sarrazin, 2009). In the works of Weinberg and Gould (2003) share that male instructors offered more instruction that is scientific and are unsupportive than female instructors. Females favor more self-governing training approaches and a participatory instructing performance that permits them to assist make decisions while males are likely to favor teaching and informative behaviors and a tyrannical training approach (Weinberg & Gould, 2003). Chelladurai and Arnott (1985) discover the same that the influence of gender on coaching behavior preference, is that female athletes prefer a more participative coaching style, while male athletes favor a more autocratic style.

Male coaches must coach the athlete and not the gender in the context of the skills, knowledge of the game, mental abilities, and fitness (Smisek, 1996). Coaching consciousness is needed for female athlete’s feelings and relationships. To assist female athletes in one’s educational journey on and off the court, it is important that male coaches recognize that there are inherent challenges in communicating with and understanding what motivates female athletes (Anderson & Gill, 1983). Male coaches need to recognize the challenges that female athletes may have relating to each other as social competition develops as girls strive for popularity during adolescent adult transition from girls to women. Coaches may want to focus on team chemistry to avoid this type of hierarchical system, which may develop on a team as relationships mean everything to adolescents, especially girls because of the significant internal struggles they have with self-esteem among many other issues (Smisek, 1996).

Howell (2011) suggests that profanity in coaching situations should decrease a leader’s perceived effectiveness, especially when conveyed from a male teacher to a female sportsperson. Blasphemy might reduce general training efficiency when it is utilized to highlight disapproval. Coaches should be mainly watchful on the use of language when analyzing the performance of players (Howell, 2011). As per the words of Chelladurai (1984), in case a trainer acclimatizes his or her performance to comply with the athletes’ favored actions, the sportsperson may perhaps be voluntarily disposed to reimburse the instructor through endeavor and enhanced performance. Additional research is needed to investigate the leadership styles, personalities, behaviors, and other related variables in an attempt to better understand and define leadership according to gender.

The coach should be more interested in ensuring individual performance items such as satisfactions, skills level, and performance goals are attained (Chelladurai, 1984). The coach irrespective of gender should not allow gender bias to intrude on training instructions or among team members. They should ensure team members get satisfied with the training one receives, provides adequate and appropriate instructions, use teaching and instructional techniques that satisfy team members, recognize team members to one’s satisfactions, cultivate the atmosphere of friendliness, show loyalty toward team members, work in leading the team toward nurturing one’s full potential to achieve performance goals (Fasting & Pfister, 2000; Anderson & Gill, 1983). That applies to male and female coaches.

The differences in gender and one’s implications on leadership for those who train and the participants have shown significant differences that require, despite the above recommendations how to handle situations, to be examined. It is possible that the understanding creates a better environment for team members in basketball to develop an attitude that promotes understanding and collective responsibility. Theory has shown that gender differences to have significant implications on the behavior of females and males where males have inclinations toward mentoring compared with females. Male coaches must coach the athlete and not the gender in the context of the skills, knowledge of the game, mental abilities, and fitness (Smisek, 1996).

Coaching consciousness is needed for female athlete’s feelings, emotional levels, and affective domain. To assist female athletes in one’s educational journey on and off the court, it is important that male coaches recognize that there are inherent challenges in communicating with and understanding what motivates female athletes (Anderson & Gill, 1983). Male coaches need to recognize the challenges that female athletes may have relating to each other as social competition develops as girls strive for popularity during adolescent adult transition from girls to women (Barnett, Smoll, & Smith, 1992). Coaches may want to focus on team chemistry to avoid this type of hierarchical system, which may develop on a team as relationships mean everything to adolescents, especially girls because of the significant internal struggles they have with self-esteem among many other issues (Smisek, 1996). Research has shown females develop a strong network, which is a critical component of coaches who represent servant leadership characteristics.

Research has revealed other implications of gender on coaches. Boiche and Sarrazin (2009), Weinberg and Gould (2003), Chelladurai and Arnott (1985), argue that male coaches have more of a rapport naturally with others whereas female coaches have the connection to one’s capabilities and making observations. Males in theory view teamwork from the winning perspective whereas women seek equal involvement in teamwork (Smisek, 1996).

Women Leadership

Eagly and Karau (2001) have argued in favor of the fact that a knowledge gap exists on the behavior of men and women when in leadership positions. Eagly and Karau (2001) further argue that leadership is consequential, thus the leadership style as argued here seems to emphasize that “issues of style with respect to women can unfortunately often be more important than issues of substance” (Thrall, 1996 p. 4). Thus, the leadership style, concluding from this author, has implications on the ultimate performance of the leader and one’s gender and the ultimate outcome in the performance of the team under a leader’s direction. Conclusions cannot be taken as concrete evidence unless widely researched on. That shows a knowledge gap and a rush to conclude in the line of the capabilities of women as leaders taking leadership roles. Controversy over the effectiveness as team leaders has prevailed whereas others, including social scientist agreeing that the leadership styles for men and women seem to vary significantly. Researchers and social scientist do not exclusively agree to the fact and contend that little or no differences are found in either leadership styles (Book, 2000; Helgesen, 1990; Rosener, 1995; Powell, 1990).

Researchers who agree on gender as a force that defines the leadership provided by women or men in one’s effectiveness look at it from the perspective of the social roles women and men engage in. Eagly et al., (2000) is one of the writers who agree that roles conferred on women in the social context based on the agentic characteristics of the gender divide. Eagly et al., (2000) affirms that “agentic characteristics, which are ascribed more strongly to men than women, describe primarily an assertive, controlling, and confident tendency” p. 4, and provides an example including the “aggressive, ambitious, dominant, forceful, independent, daring, self-confident, and competitive” (Eagly et al., 2000) nature of either gender by relating these to the work place, by sharing the statement that “in employment settings, agentic behaviors may include speaking assertively, competing for attention, influencing others, initiating activity directed to assigned tasks, and making problem-focused suggestions” (Eagly et al., 2000).

One can immediately conclude assertively that the servant leadership style seems to form a void in these kinds of assumptions. Literature seems to point in the direction that this leadership style is pointing to men without, though, showing the traits of a servant leader. Despite that, women leadership goes on to look and relate further with the social context of the relation women have with others. These communal characteristics attributed to women include, “concern with the welfare of other people for example, affectionate, helpful, kind, sympathetic, interpersonally sensitive, nurturing, and gentle” (Eagly et al., 2000). The same author draws a parallel between these findings and the social settings by focusing on communal behaviors, which “may include speaking tentatively, not drawing attention to oneself, accepting others” (Eagly et al., 2000), and “direction, supporting and soothing others, and contributing to the solution of relational and interpersonal problems” (Eagly et al., 2000). It becomes possible to affirm that the leadership style appropriately addressing this scenario as the servant leadership.

The latter statement seems to qualify the female gender as appropriate for the servant leadership style in the context of a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team. A critical evaluation of the leadership process seems to compel one to the conclusion that the servant leadership style cannot be discriminately applied as the most appropriate leadership style since, the authors the occupancy role of the leadership position to be gender constrained. That also seems to be in line with the arguments and position taken by (Kanter, 1977). Kanter (1977) argues that men and women occupying similar leadership positions behave differently due to gender influences. Here, one may conclude in the same note that gender has a strong influence in the type of leadership and one’s expectations. Assumptions may further be supported by Gutek and Morasch (1982), who view gender bias as exerting influence on the kind of leadership style and approach used to lead females.

Seven Coaching Leadership Characteristics

To attain peak performance based on the definitions of servant leadership, the coach is characterized by a number of characteristics that are defined as the seven “C’s” of coaching leadership. That implies that the coach should have specific characteristics to qualify as a servant leader, embedding the characteristics of the servant leader such as the listening skill to build and enhance performance among a basketball team. The characteristics of the servant leadership style and the seven underlying principles of the coach remain interwoven toward the attainment of one objective, becoming a successful coach.

Clarity

Here “the participating leaders are able to clarify objectives, expectations for change, and how the coaching process will be conducted” (Gould, Dieffenbach, & Moffett, 2002). Inferring from the studies by Fifer (2006), Feger, Woleck, and Hickman (2005), one regards clarity as the underlying concept an active listening coach inculcates to sharpen one’s decision-making skills. That is reinforced by a deep commitment the team has toward the setting and attainment of objectives, clarifying the implications of the coach’s leadership on the team, setting effective approaches for pursuing set objectives, setting perspectives of key performance drivers, providing advice according to team expectations, setting an agenda for the team, inculcating a high degree of intuition, clarifying the role of each team member, and assessing the success rate of each team toward the defined objectives (Feger, Woleck, & Hickman, 2005). Here, clarity requires that the athletic coach, be a person of integrity, and patience becomes crucial in the development of team dynamics. The case for the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team requires that the coach actively listen to the will and needs of team members that may contribute to optimizing athlete performance. Team members are able to demonstrate an excellent degree when athletic expectations are clear, concise, and precise so development will enhance performance (Miller & Kerr, 2002).

In that case, the coach is able to clarify team objectives that may lead to expected changes of team development, effective performance, and the most appropriate approach for conducting the coaching process. One realizes that clear objectives strengthen the best methods to conduct coaching and the expected behavior of the team members with the aim of attaining peak performance (Garner & Laskin, 2000; Gersh, 2006). These objectives should be clearly spelt and formulated and implemented by the coach in a servant leadership style environment (Gould, Dieffenbach, & Moffett, 2002).

The coach extensively borrows from the principles of servant leadership and coaching by inter-relating key defining skills to the ultimate goal of leading team members on a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team toward the pursuit and attainment of peak performance. That is in agreements with the philosophical assumptions and baseline of Senge (1990) and Hicks and McCracken (2010) who support Greenleaf’s (1977) views that servant leadership with special reference to coaching toward the attainment of a certain objective, in this case peak performance by the team and the performance of each team member, a key strength by (LeUnes & Nation, 2002). Thus, the team as one coherent unit and each team member as single units contribute to the synergy needed to achieve peak performance, calling for a focus of collective responsibility on the team as a unit and on each team member (Mannie, 2005).

Motivation

To become an effective coach for a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team based on the servant leadership style draws on the underlying leadership elements that also influence the behavioral patterns of the team members through interactions toward each other in one’s pursuit of a shared goal (Deci & Ryan, 1985; De Cremer, 2007; Den, Deanne, & De Hoogh, 2009). The motivational element in this case for the coach or leader is to ensure leadership is provided for the team that draws on the basic principles of servant leadership and a successful coach. One could conclude in this case that the strength of the servant leadership style is the urge to serve and not to lead, making it a distinguishing element with other leadership styles.

Listening coupled with clarity, empathy, healing, awareness, situations, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment, community building, and the other characteristics of the servant leadership style provide underlying points that lead to a successful coach. In view of these elements, clarity provides the first component of the characteristics for the coach or leader to examine. Athletes are often motivated by recognition, praise, and rewards that are available, such as money, endorsement deals, hall of fame recognition, and breaking records. Other ways to motivate athletes is through mental preparation for game competition, during pep talks, concentration drills, and team camaraderie that will motivate others in becoming winners. Motivated athletes are an asset to any team regardless of one’s skills and coaching abilities although, it falls under the coaches responsibilities to initiate caring, pride, and a sense of passion of getting athletes to have a stake in the team by being accountable to one another.

Reflection

Reflection provides clarity based on the need to actively listen to others while paying attention to the inner voice when providing leadership by serving team members based on the servant leadership style joined with self-assessment periods of reflection that culminate strengths that a coach may emphasizes on. These elements are essential since learning to play basketball requires a coach or leader be experienced and able to communicate with clarity coupled with active listening to players, thus, enabling team members or “individuals to grow healthier, wiser, freer and more antonymous through the art of servant-hood” (Spears, 2009 p.20).

That also supports the argument that the job of a coach is always guaranteed when the team performance becomes successful since athletic coaches hold overwhelming influence on team members. A leader’s influence has been strongly correlated to the performance of team members (League, 2006-2007). Anshel (2003) concurs that a coach who executes the leadership task with effectiveness is one “who elicits either successful performance outcomes or positive psychological responses on the part of his or her athletes” (Horn, 2002). Again listening, clarity, empathy, healing, stewardship, commitment, community building, foresight, healing, and conceptualization to form line elements that may be fundamental in defining an effective servant leader, and elements that assist in a coach self reflecting.

A review of key and relevant literature has presented the importance of one’s inner physiological thoughts along with one’s self-evaluations of athletic potential to benefit from sport psychology support when transferring the reflection to the athletes. One’s psychomotor control and cognition informed throughout servant leadership practices and self reflection would add relevance for future development to an athlete’s personal repertoire. Coaches in providing feedback to athletes may provide video evidence athletes may reflect on fitness levels, technique, positioning, decision-making, and in game situations to plan for future training to identify how well the performance could be enhanced. Athletic coaches should not only demonstrate self reflection practices, they may want to consider ways to extend current reflection practices in order to provide appropriate levels of support by gaining further insight into the interface between technology and coaching practices.

Persuasion

Persuasion, as argued by Greenleaf (1970) is fundamental in the coach’s attempts to lead by convincing the team members rather than coercing them toward the performance of tasks. Persuasion has been identified as the key distinguishing element with other leadership styles. Persuasion enables the coach to arrive at a consensus with his or her team members. Persuasion is also reinforced in the argument of empowering individuals within the team by asserting that it is a “systematized approach to participative decision-making” (Short & Greer, 2001 p. 12). In that context, each team member feels empowered to take ownership or act in the best interest of the team toward perfecting one’s individual performance to attain peak performance. Typically, the type of empowerment involved in this case is to enable team members to take on a significant share of responsibility which “the ability to take care of one’s own growth, to solve one’s own problems and to believe that they possess skills and knowledge necessary to improve one’s own situation (Short & Greer, 2001). That is also in line with the servant leadership style that enables “individuals to grow healthier, wiser, freer and more antonymous through the art of servant-hood” (Spears, 2009 p.20).

Once the coach and team members have taken responsibility of personal growth, borrowing from the widely accepted notion of leadership as an essential element in society, the leadership seeks to nurture the abilities of team members to pursue great dreams of attainment, in this case the pursuit of peak performance (Campbell, Devine, & Young, 1990). That is reflective of the consequences of the decisions made on the overall performance of a team and the team development process. Careful attention is required at this point where “foresight remains a largely unexplored area in leadership studies, but one most deserving of careful attention” (Greenleaf, 1970). Thus, it allows team members and the coach to conceptualize and generate a sense of urgency on the best approach to perform with the ultimate aim of attaining peak performance.

Conceptualization

It is crucial to note that conceptualization drives team members and the athletic coach to pursue and attain greater performance. This component becomes essential when considering the effects of stewardship, as one of the elements that characterize the servant leadership style. In this case, the coach and team members each have the responsibility of acting as stewards toward the wellbeing of the team with the coach instilling that element in each team member.

Whereas the servant leadership style focuses on the coach toward developing as team leader in the sense of taking personal responsibilities toward team members, it is worth mentioning, “servant leadership, like stewardship, assumes first and foremost a commitment to serving the needs of others (Greenleaf, 1970). It also emphasizes the use of openness and persuasion rather than control” (Greenleaf, 1970). It is crucial for the coach to embrace the consciousness element toward the pursuit of team peak performance. Awareness provides the avenue for the coach to consider the ethical values of each team member. According to Greenleaf (1970), “awareness is not a giver of solace, it is just the opposite. It is a disturber and an awakener. Able leaders are usually sharply awake and reasonably disturbed. They are not seekers after solace; they have one’s own inner serenity” p. 20.

Awareness

Awareness forms the basis for the coach with one’s leadership to seek best approaches of building team chemistry based on the underlying skills of the team leader. Thus, the commitment to the development and growth of the team members underlies the servant leadership style exemplified by the coach. That calls for the servant leader of the team to be aware of the needs and best approaches to employ in developing athletes on the team to optimize individual capabilities and energy toward achieving peak performance. That is well illustrated in the statement that attests that “the servant-leader recognizes the tremendous responsibility to do everything possible to nurture the growth of employees” (Greenleaf, 1970). The end result is to build a community, in this case an excellent performing team. It is worth mentioning that the coach providing leadership for the team is not the only component in the team to be relied upon to drive a team to achieve the success they expect. According to Coakley (2007), athletic coaches have expectations toward the team members, who have obligations toward the team. Thus, such awareness must be communicated through task performance of team members where each member needs to sacrifice for a game, strive for distinction, exert energy in the pursuit of success, and accept the risks and pain associated with playing on a basketball team (Bloom, 1996).

Context

Context is another team leadership component that needs to be addressed which is a key strength of an athletic coach. In the context of coaching leadership drawing from the servant leadership style for a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team, the coach requires to provide the support team members needed within the context of the team in this case gender. The gender issues are strongly related to the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team, since the coach leads a female team. There are psychological and other issues related to gender and the performance of a team relative to one’s gender. That assumption follows an extensive research conducted by (Chelladurai, 1978) and (Anshel, 2003) on the models of an effective coach toward the attainment of effective leadership in sports teams with the aim of developing the team toward attaining peak performance.

That was consistent with the quantified Leadership Scale for Sport (LSS) developed and used by Chelladurai and Saleh (1980). The Leadership Scale for Sport (LSS) consisted of five dimensions of leadership for a coach. Various elements on the scale were displayed as wide-ranging radically from the servant leadership style by incorporating the autocratic and the democratic leadership principles. In Chelladurai and Saleh’s (1980) findings, the five dimensions of coaching leadership included “leader behavior, training and instruction, positive feedback, social support, democratic and autocratic behavior” p. 20. Other leadership styles will be discussed and evaluated in other sections with a comparative analysis of individual strengths and weaknesses to provide the rationale for a specific type of leadership style to achieve peak performance.

Commitment

Commitment is one of the strengths that make an effective coach, with the servant leadership style’s key strength of being able to provide the coach and the team members with reciprocating sense of commitment toward one another (Turman, 2003). The primary intent of the servant leader is to serve while providing an enabling environment and stimulating the “process of enabling individuals to grow healthier, wiser, freer, and more antonymous through the art of servant-hood” (Spears, 2009; Sosik & Dworakivsky, 1998). At this point, one becomes critical of the fact of quoting Spears’s (2009) definition of the servant leadership style. In answer to the dilemma, it is important to comment here that different authors seem to read from the same script, though differences and a gap in knowledge are bound to occur in the key terms used in the definitions and the environment or working context of the definition. The servant leader in this case is an altruist moral leader (Levering & Moskowitz, 2000).

Reciprocating commitment between the team leader and the team members with the underlying principle of the servant leadership style leads to team cohesion, a key element in the synergy required in striving toward achieving peak performance. Though a knowledge gap has been experienced on the basis of team or group cohesion on the successful performance of a team, it is possible to point to the fact that cohesion and coachability, which are key principle characteristics of a successful coach, are strongly interrelated (Yukongdi, 2010). That makes it as crucial to argue that the leadership style exemplified by the coach and skills of the coach provide an enabling environment for optimal performance or peak performance of a sports team, as could be applied to a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team.

It is crucial not to rush into the conclusion without stating that the degree of team cohesion has additional implications on coachability of a team. Despite the lack of detail, there is a general conclusion that cohesion and coachability draw on the degree of interactions in a one-on-one coaching environment. The coach in this case provides an engagement with team members in developing individual skills by drawing on the foundation of coachability of team members. One does not assume that some situations might arise that may not be coachable. That is in effect drawing from the findings of the research studies conducted by Knight (2008), Reiss (2006), and Robertson (2008) in the education sector that can relatively be applied in coaching basketball team members who established a strong relationship between coaching and the effective outcomes in educational sectors. The course of action with clearly stated objectives for the development of the team implies developing clear strategies to enable the coach to become effective in one’s leadership role to place emphasis on the commitment to the team (Fullan, 2001).

Writing the Review

The purpose of this study is to discover what the best method of leadership is to achieve the best performance out of a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team. The study draws on the servant leadership style as the most appropriate leadership model for coaches in providing leadership toward achieving peak performance in sports. The history of women’s participation in sports especially in basketball is based on the rules created by Dr. James Naismith, a major contribution to the beginning of women’s basketball in 1891 (“Women’s Basketball Online: Women’s Basketball Timeline”, n.d.).

By 1972, the current involvement of women in sports had gained significant success leading to the modern participation of women in sports. No evidence shows that coaches of basketball teams had a specific leadership style to adopt and what were the implications on the performance of women in basketball teams. That led to the current trend in questioning the effectiveness and implications of different leadership styles on organizational performance with special emphasis on the servant leadership style as can be applied for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams.

Greenleaf (1977), Laub (1998), and Dr. Jim Laub’s (1998) contributed significantly in to previous concepts and principles that make up six servant leadership characteristics by exploring the implications on organizational leadership and performance. Spears (1998) linked past approaches to leadership in sports to the current leadership to servant leadership style by fundamentally focusing on autocratic leadership. Spears (1998) identified gaps in Greenleaf’s (1977) and focused on researching and developing Greenleaf’s (1977) studies by coining ten new key elements of servant leadership: listening, empathy, healing (of oneself and others), awareness of others, situations and oneself, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. These findings were taken a step further by modern authors including Bardes, Mayer, and Piccolo (2008), and Hannay (2009) who realized the interconnection between team motivation and the servant leadership style as discussed by (Vinod & Sudhakar, 2011; Hatamleh, Abu Al-Ruz, & Hindawi, 2009). These authors, among others, extensively studied servant leadership and coupled coaching leadership as a modern trend. Each of the characteristics of servant leadership is studied below from a historical perspective, current trends, and gaps in knowledge with implications on organizational performance and analogous to coaching leadership for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams.

Historical, Current, and Gaps

Each of the six characteristics of the servant leadership style constituting the leadership variables discussed in the following sections demonstrate historical and current findings showing the gap between historical authors and current authors, and the gaps as applicable in the current organizational leadership environment analogous to coaching leadership for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams.

Model of the Servant Leadership Style

Questions linger on the best leadership style athletic coaches should adopt to attain peak performance in sports with special emphasis on the performance of women among Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. In theory, servant leadership is defined as a “process of enabling individuals to grow healthier, wiser, freer and more antonymous through the art of servant-hood” (Spears, 2009 p.20). Dr. Jim Laub (1998) provided his own definition of servant leadership as an understanding and practice of leadership that places the good of those led over the self-interest of the leader. Whereas both definitions closely emphasize on the wellbeing of the individual, Spears (2009) seems to focus more on the behavior of an individual with a shared goal. When goals are clearly set and prioritized, hypothetically, success toward the attainment of that goal is guaranteed.

Thus, a leadership model that incorporates that leadership attribute is crucial in sports. The definition marked by Spears (2009) escapes from emphasizing on a single individual but focuses on both the individual and others who might constitute a group. That definition always seems to fit into the context of the leadership styles appropriate to lead Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. Team members and individuals are bound to benefit from servant leadership. Dr. Jim Laub (1998) focuses more on others and not on an individual, typically, leading to the conclusion that it is applicable to team members on a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team. That implies that the coach should identify the best approach to use to lead others by focusing on sensitive individual needs first as a critical element, an attribute defining servant leadership style, before the team is focused on and gradually the individual team leader.

While leadership comes in different forms with different characteristics, each leadership style is appropriate for a specific environment based on the inherent characteristics of the leadership style. Servant leadership has its defining characteristics worth evaluating for unique appropriateness among Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams aiming at optimizing the performance of team members to attain peak performance. That draws on the leadership provided by the team’s coach. Spears’s (1998) and Jamison (2005) writings demonstrate a number of key servant leadership to include listening, empathy, healing (of oneself and others), awareness of others, situations and oneself, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community.

Greenleaf (1977) and Spears (1998) seem to agree on the transformative force of servant leadership by emphasizing the role of the leader as putting deliberately the needs of others ahead of the leaders. Greenleaf (1977) argues further by asserting that servant leadership enables team members and the team to “grow healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and more likely themselves to become servants” p.14. As mentioned elsewhere, one could conclude that it is a fragile kind of leadership where the leader acts the role of the servant and the servant seems to be the point of focus. Combining the arguments of Bum’s (1978) and Greenleaf (1977), one concludes otherwise. Servant leadership is a strong type of leadership that is transformative. It enables the coach or leader to inculcate the listening element in the team members, since listening is one of the strongest components a team leader or coach relies on when instructing team members.

Once the team leader has developed the natural urge to serve, Greenleaf’s (1977) perspective of the leadership process influences the leader where the “conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead” (Greenleaf, 1970). That allows the leader to attain the leadership status and enables “individuals to grow healthier, wiser, freer and more antonymous through the art of servant-hood” (Spears, 2009 p.20). Greenleaf’s (1977) views concur at this point with that of Spears (2009) on the development process of the team and individual team members. That calls for a detailed study of the characteristics of the servant leadership style and its effectiveness in a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team.

In order to attain peak performance, based on servant leadership, different literature and organizational leaders agree the leader invests time and energy in the development of the team and individual team members by capitalizing on the positive emotions and strengths of the team. It boils down to using team members as a resource. That is in agreement with Hackman and Wageman’s (2005) and coaching (2005) views on coaching when providing coaching leadership. In the context of the current study, coaching leadership defined by Hackman and Wageman (2005) communicate, “direct interaction with a team intended to help members make coordinated and task-appropriate use of one’s collective resources in accomplishing the team’s goals” (p. 269) culminates in appropriate inculcation of the elements characterizing a servant leadership style for a coach in the field of coaching sports. Typically, that is in perspective among Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams.

These elements include listening, empathy, healing (of oneself and others), awareness of others, situations and oneself, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. The question will remain how these elements are crucial in coaching leadership based on the principles of servant leadership in the sport of basketball. Thus, coaching could significantly contribute borrowing and embedding the principles of the servant leadership style, to an athletic coach in pursuing excellence and peak performance for a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team. One should bear in mind the goals of coaching as a leadership continuum to attain excellence and peak performance among a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team. Witherspoon and White (1996) provide the general goals of coaching leadership to include “to build skills, enhance performance, or guide leaders toward the cultivation of organizational objectives” p.6. That reflects on servant leadership as the baseline for coaching leadership on a basketball team toward the pursuit of excellence and peak performance. To “build skills, enhance performance, or guide others toward the cultivation of organizational objectives,” in this case for the coach providing leadership for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams, team leadership draws on team dynamics as provided by the coach or leader.

To attain peak performance based on the definitions of servant leadership, the coach is characterized by a number of characteristics that are defined as the seven “C’s” of coaching leadership. That implies that the coach should have certain specific characteristics to qualify as a servant leader, embedding the characteristics of the servant leader such as active listening skills to build and enhance performance on a basketball team. In general, the characteristics of the servant leadership style and the seven underlying principles of the coach remain interwoven toward the attainment of the objective.

Arguments by Anshel (2003) concur that a coach who executes the leadership task with effectiveness is the one “who elicits either successful performance outcomes or positive psychological responses on the part of her or his athletes” (Horn, 2002). Listening, clarity, empathy, healing, stewardship, commitment, community building, foresight, healing, and conceptualization form considering assumptions that may define an effective coach, which are the key elements that define the servant leadership style. When leading a team, these are key strengths of the servant leadership style that a coach may want to exemplify.

It is of fundamental worth to note that an effective coach plays significant roles, which include “leader, follower, teacher, role model, limit setter, psychologist/counselor and/or mentor” (Anshel, 2003). Based on the servant leadership style, the team leader, according to Anshel (2003) should identify the needs of each team member and be ready to address individual needs of each team member to optimize one’s performance through a team building process that draws on the principles of an effective coach.

Context is another team leadership component that needs to be addressed which is a key strength of an athletic coach. In the context of the coaching leadership drawing from the servant leadership style for a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team, the coach requires to provide support to team members for the desired need within the context of the team in this case gender. The gender issues are strongly related to Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams, since the coach leads a group of females. There are psychological and other issues related to gender and the performance of a team relative to gender.

That assumption follows an extensive research conducted by (Chelladurai, 1978) and (Anshel, 2003) on the models of an effective coach toward the attainment of an effective leadership in athletic teams with the aim of developing the team toward attaining peak performance. That was consistent with the quantified Leadership Scale for Sport (LSS) developed and used by Chelladurai and Saleh (1980). The Leadership Scale for Sport (LSS) consisted of five dimensions of leadership for a coach. Some of the elements in the scale varied radically from the servant leadership style by incorporating the autocratic and democratic leadership principles. In Chelladurai and Saleh’s (1980) findings, the five dimensions of coaching leadership included “leader behavior, training and instruction, positive feedback, social support, democratic and autocratic behavior” p. 20. Other leadership styles will be discussed and evaluated in other sections with a comparative analysis of strengths and weaknesses to provide the rationale for a specific type of leadership style to achieve peak performance.

When underling effective training of context team members may want to provide support for the “process of enabling individuals to grow healthier, wiser, freer and more antonymous through the art of servant-hood” (Spears, 2009 p.20), commitment is one of the strengths that makes an effective coach, with the servant leadership style’s key strength providing the coach and the team members with reciprocating sense of commitment toward one another. Commitment is the context of a basketball team that illustrates reciprocating relationships and commitment toward each other to promote team success.

The primary intent of the servant leader is to serve while providing an enabling environment and stimulating the “process of enabling individuals to grow healthier, wiser, freer and more antonymous through the art of servant-hood” (Spears, 2009; Sosik & Dworakivsky, 1998). At this point, one becomes critical of the fact of quoting Spears’s (2009) definition of the servant leadership style. In answer to the dilemma, it is important to comment here that different authors seem to read from the same script, though differences and a knowledge gap occurs in the key terms used in the definitions and environment of working contexts of the definition.

Thus, the course of action with clearly stated objectives for the development of the team implies developing clear strategies to enable the coach to become effective in one’s leadership role. Coaching leadership may want to sway practices to intermittently draw on servant leadership styles to provide leadership toward the attainment of incremental growth, a parallel between growing “healthier, wiser, freer and more antonymous” (Spears, 2009 p.20), and authors who have extensively researched on team development (Knapp 2008; Reeves & Ellison 2009).

Studies by Gould, Dieffenbach, & Moffett (2002) point out that “the participating leaders are able to clarify objectives, set expectations for change, and organize how the coaching process will be conducted” p.23. This is demonstrated in the commitment to the growth of the team and the team members embedded in the commitment toward the team and individuals (Fifer, 2006). Basing coaching leadership on the servant leadership style, the coach draws a parallel by internalizing the servant leadership characteristics to clarify and provide team leadership by defining key performance and team development standards and the implications on team development and performance (Feger, Woleck, & Hickman, 2005).

The appropriateness of the servant leadership style for coaches in Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams underlines by the need to draw assumptions on key defining elements including listening, awareness, stewardship among others and the consistency with the needs and expectations to ultimately achieve peak performance provide the rationale to adopt the leadership style for athletic coaches.

A Comparative Study of Leadership Styles

Servant Leadership Model vs. Autocratic Leadership Model

Having reviewed literature on a range of leadership styles, it is crucial to examine literature on the strengths and weaknesses in relation to coaching and ultimate performance of a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team. These leadership styles, as mentioned before include the servant, democratic, coaching, autocratic, transactional, situational, ethical, inspirational, and peak performance leadership styles. In the context of coaching leadership, each leadership style has direct and indirect implications on the leadership influence and the definitive performance of the team in question. Thus, a comparative study provides the baseline argument relating a particular leadership style more suited for a Women’s NCAA Division II college team.

A detailed discussion of the servant leadership style has detailed six characteristics applicable to the leadership and its implications on the coaching of the Women’s NCAA Division II college teams. These include stewardship, empathy, foresight, and conceptualization, persuasion, healing, and listening. In correlation to the autocratic leadership style, it is characterized by power as a tool to attainment of the ultimate objective, no inputs from team members but the team works on the directions and decisions of the coach, the coach identifies and dictates the appropriate methods to use to attain group development, and no decisions are made by the team but rather by the teams coach.

The autocratic leadership style had been embraced traditionally as the most appropriate leadership style, before other leadership styles were embraced. This autocratic style was based on concept that “power is not a form of leadership it is a form of control by intimidating employees” (De Cremer, 2007). It is a power centered leadership style. Analogous to athletic coaches, it orchestrates that the coach should use punishment and rewards to lead, and heavily rely on one’s position to direct team members to perform irrespective of individual concerns. That can well be summarized in the statement that “an autocratic leader zealously shields him from criticism about personal abilities and has an ego-driven need to control other people” (De Cremer, 2007). Once an athletic coach adopts the fear driven leadership style, the consequences may lead to resistance from team members and reduce performance (Jamison, 2005).

Under the autocratic style, team members are likely to become fearful, resentful, tense, develop low morale, and lead to high absenteeism and staff turnover. One may stop short of recommending a leadership style for a basketball team in this case is a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team when the argument that it was a form “of control by intimidating employees” (De Cremer, 2007). Before fully discarding and discrediting any leadership style, the argument could be that when there is urgency in decision-making, autocratic leadership style applies. That may dismiss the optimism of long-term benefits that could accrue from the leadership style. The servant leadership style contrasts sharply with the autocratic leadership style by providing a long term hope of development and decisions that have positive long-term affects on the members and the team as a whole. That makes autocratic leadership unfit for long-term decision making and growth of the team. That is further supported by the facts that show that it often causes employees to resist direction and under perform job responsibilities (De Cremer, 2007). Current trends are shifting to the employee needs to be empowered; a radical departure from the autocratic leadership style, where employees’ duty included obeying orders and executing assigned tasks without questions. When drawing on the principles of autocratic leadership, there is little or no hope of empowering team members toward the attainment of specified objectives by accepting one’s inputs into the team.

From the above literature, autocratic leadership is deficient of enabling the coach to provide the leadership that allows for personal growth, whereas not allowing external inputs and collaborative efforts for team development and growth, but focuses on the leader around whom team development revolves. Again servant leadership seems to provide the space required for interaction between the team’s coach and team members, while leading with the underlying rationale of wanting to serve. Leadership styles provide room for actively engaging team members in personal growth and development whereas providing the leadership needed for the development and growth of the team and the team members. That can also be viewed from the seven key elements of a successful coach, which can only be accommodated, based on the servant leadership style.

Servant Leadership Model vs. Transactional Leadership Model

In the process of conducting the literature review on the most appropriate leadership style to adopt for a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team, another leadership style to correlate with the servant leadership style for a coach is the transactional leadership style. It has emerged from research studies that transactional leadership provides appropriate leadership in an environment where the coach or leader uses punishment and rewards to motivate members toward the performance of a specific task. In the quest for attaining peak performance, when a team member or the entire team performs exceptionally well, the coach rewards the members with the hope of motivating them toward improved performance (Pratt & Eitzen, 1989; Robbins, Houston & Dummer, 2010).

Motivations are external in nature and rarely focused on the intrinsic motivational factors. Transactional leadership involves the leader’s ability to focus on task responsibilities (Bass, 1990). This model tagged by Max Weber in 1947 and again by Bernard M. Bass in 1981 seeks to motivate followers by appealing to one’s own self-interest (Bass, 1990; Garner & Laskin, 2000). There is a sharp distinction here between servant leadership and transactional leadership. While servant leadership, according to Greenleaf’s (1977) revolves around ten key elements, which include; listening, empathy, healing (of oneself and others), awareness of others, situations and oneself, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community, transactional leadership focuses on reward and punishment. Transactional leadership uses a system of rewards and disciplinary measures to motivate employees (Bass, 1990).

Transactional leadership draws on the principles of motivating workers by the exchange of status and wages for the work effort of the employee (Wren, 1995). The coach’s leadership skills draw on directives and actions, which compel team members to accept the set goals and cultural orientation and team structure without making any inputs or contributions toward the leadership of the team. Thus, solutions to problems affecting the team evolve from within and not without. One could say that transactional coaching leadership draws solutions from within the team and does not accept external inputs. A clear indication that transactional leadership is based on management by exception and contingency rewarding approaches.

The goal of any team is to win and attain the best performance possible. According to Carron et al., (2002), Heuzé et al., (2006), Myers et al., (2004), and Watson et al., (2001), team cohesion has a strong influence on the performance of a team, and can be attained based on the leadership skills of a coach. Here, cohesion is defined as “a dynamic process that is reflected in part by the tendency of a group to stick together and remain united in the pursuit of its instrumental objectives and/or for the satisfaction of each members affective needs” (Carron & Brawley, 2000). Thus, cohesion, effectiveness, and leadership are intertwined toward the pursuit and attainment of a specified objective.

These seven elements coupled with the key characteristics of a successful coach that include context, coachability, clarity, confidentiality, commitment, and action can be effectively attained based on the transactional and servant leadership style. The servant leadership style has been discussed extensively in relation to the seven key components that characterize a successful coach. In that discussion, the servant leadership style showed a significant agreement as a leadership style compatible with the key characteristics of a successful coach. As discussed above, transactional leadership reflects itself on reward and punishment with the underlying principle transactions model. Team development is based on transactions between the leader or the coach and the team members.

To achieve peak performance, the coach, borrowing from the transactional leadership model awards team members based on the level of success attained, as a motivating component. When compared with the servant leadership style, motivating team members whereas taking into consideration individual needs and input can achieve team development. The servant leadership style provides an upper hand in motivating team members toward the attainment of peak performance. That is in addition to the fact that some needs of team members might not be addressed before the team members get engaged in a sporting event, possibly disqualifying the transactional leadership style from the perspective of taking care of team members prior to sporting events. Servant leadership embraces the needs of team members even before a sporting event with the aim of identifying any problems or hindrance to optimizing one’s performance.

Servant Leadership Model vs. Transformational leadership Model

Armstrong (2001) laid out four main characteristics of transformational leadership among coaches of sports teams: 1) ethical behavior 2) shared vision and shared goals, 3) performance improvement through charismatic leadership, and 4) leadership by example. In these characteristics, the coach’s ethical behavior and the team members’ draw on a leadership model that enables one to focus on perfecting the performance of team members to optimize one’s attitude and execution of tasks as argued that “good sportsmanship is defined as qualities of behavior, which are characterized by courtesy and genuine concern for others” (Trusty, 2000). Thus, the coach as a leader focused on the ethical behavior of the team members as here reinforced in this statement as “exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court, ethical behavior, fair play and integrity”. A coach and team members have to demonstrate a high degree of integrity and other standards formulated within the team toward the pursuing honesty, fair treatment of others within the team, positive thinking, and taking responsibility for actions.

Transformational leadership provides the basis for the coach and the team members to develop such mutual working relationships that toward pursuing a shared goal of pursuing to achieve peak performance. Here, motivation, performance, and morale underpin the leadership style. The coach in this case is the role model inspiring the team members toward exerting individual efforts and energies toward the attainment of peak performance. Leadership enables team members to identify strengths and weaknesses and how one contributes to the efficiency of the team. Once that is done, the coach is able to align each team member to specific team tasks specifically appropriating strengths and performance. According to Bass (1985) transformational leadership from the perspective of leaders’ influences subordinates, which encourages change and folowership among individuals. Transformational leadership creates valuable and positive change in the followers with an end goal of developing followers into leaders (Bass, 1990). Influenced by transformational leaders, subordinates become motivated to surpass original expectations (Yukl, 1989). Transformational leadership involves the ability to motivate followers to go beyond expectations to reach higher goals (Avolio & Yammarino, 2008).

The shared vision or goal is a key element to transformational leadership that allows for the coach to encourage or motivate team members toward the attainment of peak performance with the ultimate goal of achieving the shared goal and benefits associated with the coach. These could include a name, performance, and the ultimate financial benefits, which belong to the entire team and not the organization.

The transformational leadership style is characterized by charismatic leadership where the model requires that the leader actively influence the team members toward peak performance by encouraging them, by attending to individualized needs, a case similar to the servant leadership where the individual needs of the team members are carefully considered. Leading by the servant leadership model allows the coach or leader to display empathy and support for individual development and growth in each aspect that impacts factors such as team cohesion that have implications on the performance of the team. Transformational leadership models seem to be appropriate for a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team as each of the team members are free to communicate with the coach with the challenges that may impede the progress and performance of the team. That is also the case with servant leadership, which allows the team members the opportunity to provide input toward the challenges facing the team. Here, the team leader and the player develops an intrinsic urge for self-development while having an internal urge to fulfill team tasks aimed at optimizing the performance of the team.

Further studies on transformational leadership styles indicate the leadership model that the coach might approach the team in stimulating one’s intellectual creativity in sports in team members to optimize capabilities and performance. In this case, the coach values learning as a key component in leadership to provide new solutions to problems and other challenges that may affect team development or performance, though seeking for the most appropriate approach to motivate team members toward optimizing individual and team performance. Challenges bound to arise within team dynamics and the leadership in coaching opening up new learning opportunities to improve on leadership styles to seek for other new methods to achieve peak performance.

Thus, the transformational leadership style concurs with the servant leadership style where the leadership values input from the team member, which “process of enabling individuals to grow healthier, wiser, freer and more antonymous through the art of servant-hood” (Spears, 2009 p.20). The team leadership mode under the transformational leadership allows the coach or leader to provide inspirational motivation by articulating a vision of a masterpiece or excellent performance for the team. It is true as has been argued that the vision could be characterized by intrinsic appeal, in this case the benefits likely to be gained as a team and for each team member when the team achieves peak performance.

Tasks performed by team members are based on the inspiration provided by the coach or leader toward the attainment of specified goals and objectives toward the attainment of peak performance. Servant leadership seems to be compatible with the transformational style of leadership since servant leadership seems to provide the team members with the motivation and inspiration required for a successful team. When analyzing both leadership styles communication skills are speculated more on the characteristics of the servant leadership style that revolves around the concept of self as a steward of the organization and its people, and active listening as one of the characteristics of servant leadership as well as basic performance elements of a team (Greenleaf, 1977).

Communication components of transformational leadership provide coaches with idealized influence on its team members. Idealized influence draws on the skilled capability of the team leader or the coach to behave as a role model to inculcate integrity, respect, ethical behavior, and trust in the leadership and the eyes of the team members. These components can be provided based on the servant leadership style that models an environment where the team members and the coach regard it as responsibilities to model behaviors and attitudes that aim to transform the team to higher capabilities and performance to aim at achieving peak performance on a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team.

Thus, differences and implications for athletic teams are summarized in the conceptualized models shown in table 2.

Table 2.

differences and implications for athletic teams are summarized in the conceptualized

differences and implications for athletic teams are summarized in the conceptualized

Other team leadership styles that have been studied and applied in different disciplines as management tools including situational leadership styles, and inspirational, leadership styles as comparatively studied below.

Servant Leadership Model vs. Situational Leadership Model

The Situational Leadership model from Blanchard and Hersey certifies that leaders must use different leadership styles depending on the situation (Wren, 1995). This method allows you to analyze the needs of the situation you’re in, presumes that different leadership styles are better in different situations, and that leaders must be flexible enough to adapt styles to the situations (Hyung Hur, 2008). In comparison, the servant leadership is not based on constantly reevaluating arising situations to formulate strategies to address new challenges that rise with changing coaching needs. Servant leadership, where the leader inculcated and nurtures an unborn desire to lead a team toward the attainment of a specific goal, which renders an effective team radically, departs from the underlying concept of the situational leadership style. Thus, the implications for an athletic coach present constant changing situations to provide leadership (Hyung Hur, 2008).

Task behavior and relationship underlie the direction of the situational leadership style (Hyung Hur, 2008). Comparatively, servant leadership bases its leadership on persuasion where the coach does not coerce subordination of the team members, but uses one’s leadership skills to convince team members about an issue and a decision with desired outcomes. This element distinguishes the servant leadership style with other leadership styles including the classical leadership models that had encouraging basis on religion as argued by (Greenleaf, 1977; Bardes, Mayer, & Piccolo, 2008). The situational leadership style is task directive based (Wren, 1995). That does not always sit well with the servant leadership style in sports for the athletic coach, although seems to infringe and underestimate the mental capacity of the team members’ therefore compelling subordination even when disagreeing with the team.

Situational leadership is designed to increase the frequency and quality of conversations about performance and development between managers and the people they work with so that competence is developed, commitment is gained, and talented individuals are performing at full potential (Hyung Hur, 2008). Both leadership behaviors appropriately address different environments. According to the situational leadership model,” there is no, “one way” to go about leading or influencing others, it’s all about finding the “best possible way.”

Servant Leadership Model vs. Ethical Leadership Model

Ethical leadership is demonstrated in sports as individual players, the team, coach, or athletic organization adheres to the rules of conduct (Weese, 1996). Ethical leadership closely compare with servant leadership. Both value the principle of long-term relationships. In coaching, it is important to uphold integrity, a fact that both servant leadership and ethical leadership models strongly emphasize on. As Weinberg and Gould (2003) states, a servant leader would always strive to ensure that all members feel part of the leadership team. This is one of the leading principles of ethical leadership. The two leadership styles though share a lot of similarities, have a number of differences that makes them different. Whereas servant leadership emphasize on a leadership that involves the leader creating an environment where followers feel that they are the leaders, ethical leadership does not. In its place, ethical leadership emphasizes on the need for the leader to act in manner that would be viewed as fair and moral by all the concerned individuals.

Servant Leadership Model vs. Inspirational Leadership Model

According to Doherty and Danylchuk (1996), Chelladurai (1990), LeUnes and Nation, (2002) inspirational leadership is motivational, draws on emotional attachments to the leader the force behind goal-oriented leadership. While little research has been conducted on the influence of inspirational leadership on coaching leadership in sports, available studies link underlying inspiration, charismatic motivation, decision-making effectiveness, and the suitability of the leadership style to different environments toward the attainment of organizational objectives. Similar in sports, coaching is based on sheer hard work, right inspiration, and determination (Kidman, 2005; Leland, 1988). A contrast where the servant leader develops a natural urge to lead signifies a weakness inspirational leadership, where motivation and inspiration is the key to success. That is because the “natural urge to lead” and “inspiring by performing” contrast, implying leadership without inspiration excellence in performance cannot lead failing to create insight in the team and when the leader has poor leadership and performance skills. Inspirational leadership is narrow in context while servant leadership is wide in context, a gap that cannot be narrowed by the inspirational leadership concept.

Servant Leadership Model vs. Charismatic Leadership Model

Charismatic leadership possesses characteristics that make it very appropriate for coaching leadership. The main characteristics of charismatic leadership include simplicity, self-confidence, creative persuasive and risk lovers. This leadership style has close comparison to servant leadership. A charismatic leader would persuade the followers. In coaching, this kind of leadership would be very effective. A coach would need to convince his or her players that a given course of action would be best suited to give out the desired result within a specified time. This way, players would appreciate the need to act in a given direction as a way of achieving a specified shared goal. Weinberg and Gould (2003) state, this strategy is best for a long-term basis. Servant leadership acts in the same manner. A leader would provide foresight to the followers and let them take given course of action without any form of coursing.

Charismatic leaders create an environment where the followers would feel that they are in the lead, that one’s opinions are given priority they deserve. This would be very helpful in coaching. When players are motivated and left to act on one’s own will (even though the will may have been shaped by the leader), they would feel responsible for one’s actions and would want to act in a manner that would help them ensure that they are successful. Both the servant leadership model and charismatic leadership styles compare in that both depend on the creativity and intelligence of the leader. The leader has the task of ensuring that followers performs a given task in a manner that is desirable to the leader, but without the use of any force. Tasks are not always easy, as Boiche and Sarrazin (2009) communicate a human being is an independent creature with thoughts, which vary randomly. When there is a task at hand, there would be as many suggestions of the best way of doing the task, as there would be the number of people present. Both types of leaderships would demand that a leader make everyone act in the same direction, although without any force. It would take intelligence and creativity to read the mind of everyone present and tune the minds to act in a given specific manner.

Despite the striking similarities, it is worth noting that there are some differences that make these two types of leadership different and applicable in different set-ups. While servant leadership demands that a leader listens to the followers wishes and act as per the demands, a charismatic leader would make followers act as per his or her desires. Boiche and Sarrazin (2009) say that whereas servant leadership takes an outward in approach, charismatic leadership takes an inward outward approach. In coaching, both strategies would be appropriate in different occasions. When time is limited and there is need for quick results, charismatic leadership would be the most appropriate. If there were enough time for training and the coach would need as many opinions as may be available for trial purposes, then servant leadership would be the most applicable.

Dr. Laub’s Six Tenants That Make up Servant Leadership

Displaying Authenticity

Bardes, Mayer, and Piccolo (2008) discussed extensively on the uniqueness of servant leadership from the theoretical and practical implications on the performance of business organizations, with displaying authenticity as one of the key issues to success in performance (Bardes, Mayer, & Piccolo, 2008; Greenleaf, 1977). Authenticity requires that an organizational leader creates an environment of trust, understands oneself to model a behavior that could influence team members positively by considering ethical values of team members, attempts to create hope which is the underlying motivation to perform, demonstrates optimism, and resilience that constitutes a positive psychological environment for team members as can be applied in sports (Gersh, 2006), Gould, Dieffenbach, & Moffett (2002). When a parallel with sports on authenticity is drawn, the effects can be translated to sports to act the baseline for motivating team members toward improving one’s performance with the ultimate driving force being to achieve peak performance.

That could provide significant contributions to team members developing an attitude that fosters development of talent and cultivation of optimism toward better performance. If the coach as a team leader effectively implements the concept, better performance could be realized, as working relationships between team members will improve. Current studies by Whetstone (2002), Annette, Joseph, and Clifford (2010) support the latter position and reinforce the need for organizations to identify the importance and implications of servant leadership on organizations (Banutu-Gomez, 2004). The learning point here shows unparalleled implications for the servant leader in providing leadership services to lead, showing the significance of the coach in cultivating an environment of servanthood to be emulated by team members (Greenleaf, 1977). These variables have not been shown how they empirically impact on organizational performance, but examined keenly could contribute positively to psychological orientation of the coach and translate to each team member (Gersh, 2006; Gould, Dieffenbach, & Moffett, 2002). That is supported by Covey (2008) who figures the idea of a servant leader as a leader willing to serve and provide dependability instead of despair playing an example for those who want direction and purpose (Bardes, Mayer, & Piccolo, 2008; Crippen, 2006; Hannay, 2009; Hays, 2008). No link was established to leadership in sports by earlier researchers a knowledge gap to fill today.

Valuing People

Research by a number of authors has shown that valuing people is an attribute with strong implications on organizational performance. Laub’s (1999) and Banutu-Gomez (2004) describes the positive attitude leaders develop in people when the sense of value prevails in one’s mind to contribute significantly toward stimulating a positive attitude in the direction of those who are led. That draws a parallel with the organizational impact of leaders who value job satisfaction as an organizational tool of motivating people on the path to working harder to achieve goals. That draws from the behavioral perspective of servant leadership that can influence the emotional and motivational perspective of a player leading to improved performance in sports (De Cremer, 2007). That was from the behavioral perspective the role of the servant leader as a process to inculcate trust in followers, modernize societies, and provide love for human values, which is a modern perspective of servant leadership.

A gap on the impact of change on developing the society has not been exhaustively researched; Andrew’s (2001) draws on findings to reinforce Banutu-Gomez’s (2004) findings. The connection becomes all too evident as sports teams thrive on how the coach values team members as emphasized by (Gross, 2004; Hatamleh, Abu Al-Ruz, & Hindawi, 2009; Armstrong, 2001). Hays (2008) describes servant leadership as a way that a leader could profoundly respect other human beings and yet still operate to achieve organizational goals to bring about organizational change (Bardes, Mayer, & Piccolo, 2008; Bell & Habel, 2009). Bell and Habel (2009) concur that the agenda for change would consist of building congruence across the elements of one’s character and values in which they believe in. That congruence could have implications on the leadership approach a coach uses and one’s individual performance.

That forms the basis for Baric and Bucik’s (2009) argument on motivating team members in sports, being consistent with leadership theories as argued by (Bass, 1990). Extensively based on Greenleaf’s (1970) studies, servant leadership provides the basis for valuing others top priority. Servant leaders are committed to seeing the intrinsic value personally, professionally, and spiritually of each individual (Wilson, 1989; Bowman, 2000; Carter & Bloom, 2009). The point of emphasis for these studies includes the flexibility of servant leadership as a leadership tool for sports coaches to show how far they value team members, a motivating factor to one’s devotion to team success, optimizing the behavioral characteristics of teams to optimize performance (Bass, 1990; Bell & Habel, 2009; Bowman, 2000). These contributions lack the modeling, power alignment, and path finding components where Green (1977) showed bias toward religious values such as compassion, service, and gratitude.

Developing People

Current research shows the value of developing people is one of the servant leadership attributes shown to be a crucial component influencing organizational managers toward achieving success for people operating in teams. The case for sports borrows strongly from this concept where authors including Wageman (2001), Weese (1994); Werthner and Trudel (2006) have demonstrated the gains organizations make when leaders invest in developing organizational employees. That is best illustrated in sports when the coaches based on the servant leadership concepts invest one’s skills and knowledge to develop each team member’s skill-sets, capabilities, and engaging them in personal development reviews to take corrective measures to ensure positive contributions (Chelladurai, 1990).

The servant leader organizes sporting members by empowering them to identify and determine performance improvement points, and ensure individual roles and responsibilities. Servant leaders in that case motivate team members to move from one level of success by making team members feel the importance of one’s individual contribution toward team success. Most good leaders in this case, as can be applied to coaches leading basketball teams are lifelong learners. That is in line with what Green (1977) asserted by viewing the benchmark test for a good servant leader is to motivate people toward realizing one’s full potential. Such development underlies the team leader’s ability to stimulate increased productivity, improved efficiency, and an improved competitive edge on the team members.

In the leadership of today’s organizations with sports as the parallel, the possibility of reengineering, restructuring, and reorganizing organizations to inculcate the sense of effectiveness in carrying out tasks at the management and individual levels. Each team member has a clear understanding of one’s obligations and takes ownership of the entire team tasks based on the underlying servant leadership role of developing people to play a pivotal role. The parallel here uniquely applies to sports applying across both genders with special emphasis on the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams (Boroski & Greif, 2009). Another parallel with sports teams demonstrates that when team members are developed, they realize one’s potential and desire to contribute to the success of the team in basketball with the aim of performing at one’s best. Success brings several other benefits to a team.

Building Community

A common practice among human beings is that people work in teams to achieve the best results toward a shared goal (Whetstone, 2002; Smethers & Jenney, 2010). The underlying rationale is the synergy gained from team members. A significant number of sporting activities occur in teams and require the active participation of each team member and team leader. If players in teams actively get involved toward working to achieve a performance objective, a synergetic model adds value to one’s efforts collectively leading to better results. Such success can only be attained when the leader provides the required leadership ingredients toward that shared goal for the team members who coexist as a community (McCuddy & Cavin, 2008). Working in teams has significantly been exemplified in the servant leadership style adopted in religion (Whetstone, 2002). That is because people coexist in communities, with individual members inter-dependently drawing upon the energy contributed by individuals toward attaining shared goals.

That inter-dependence is based on God like love, which is the Christian principle of loving one another (Whetstone, 2002; Smethers & Jenney, 2010). Drawing a parallel with sports, team members in basketball exist as communities with the underlying servant leadership principles governing individual and team development. The coach who is the servant leader is not only emulated as a leader, but provides an environment that fosters persuasion, growth, inspiration, and accountability for team contributions to success. The team leader plays a significant role by establishing a positive relationship with the team members, devoting self to identifying hidden talents in individuals in a team for one’s development, attempting and placing measures in place to ensure the best is captured out of others, showing the sense of forgiving others to relief psychologically related stresses among team members, devoting time and energy for the growth of others, and ensuring personal growth is cultivated in a team to realize individual and team potential (Jamison, 2005; Whetstone, 2002).

Providing Leadership

Providing leadership, as one of the servant leadership attributes in sports is the ability to influence team members to work hard to maximize inner potential to the fullest and adds to the synergy to excel (Annette, Joseph, & Clifford, 2010). An athletic coach servant leader endowed with intelligence, vision, values, appropriate behavior, provides the necessary social influence and direction to team members to work toward a shared goal (De Cremer, 2007). In sports, team members have the intrinsic values and emotional feelings that can be influenced by the team leader based on one’s moods, affective tones, and group processes to expend individual efforts toward effectiveness (Jamison, 2005). The athletic coach servant leader when convinced of the appropriateness of the direction provided on team member’s influences affective events to influence team behavior and attitude toward the leader and ultimate influence on one’s performance according to (Bird, 1977). The servant leader in this case draws on appropriate task allocations, resource utilization, and feedback on issues related to team leadership (Chen, Sharma, Edinger, Shapiro, & Farh, 2011).

That is because on a team, unity is crucial to success, interpersonal relationships play a significant role in the task executions, and the united ability inculcated in team members to develop followership to follow the lead of the leader (Fagenson-Eland, 2001). The ultimate success in performance of the team draws on the above directions provided by the team leader by coaching them in different aspects of team development. That is the case with Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. The athletic coach provides direction to ensure success by motivating them through listening, positive praise, and providing other forms of direction toward achieving specified goals (Vinod & Sudhakar, 2011). That is best illustrated in the studies and discussions by (Robbins, Houston, & Dummer, 2010) of the contributions made the leader must exercise direction, establish relations, communicate expectations to stimulate followership.

Sharing Leadership

Current studies including cited authors show that organizational performance as a prerequisite measure to a successful organization for individuals and teams members working in such organizations (Trompenaars & Voerman, 2009). To achieve organizational success based on individual and team performance, the servant leader shares leadership, which is one of the unique leadership attributes in pursuing organizational and team goals. The role of the coach as a servant leader is to inculcate team effectiveness to attain high levels of efficacy by creating a well-functioning team on the basketball court (Annette, Joseph, & Clifford, 2010). The servant leader identifies the purpose and leads by prioritizing activities that lead to effective team performance. The athletic coach as a servant leader ensures team effectiveness as a prerequisite to better performance with the aim of pursuing the ultimate goal of achieving peak performance by specifying certain roles and responsibilities to team members (Hayward, Neill, & Peterson, 2007).

Servant leaders must make decisions by sharing leadership with various team members who together will decide on the best actions, roles, and responsibilities each team member will account for measured up to the unique qualities of each team member to foster collective responsibility. The coach does not own leadership, but remains proactive in identifying the best approach to share leadership toward pursuing success with a win-win perspective where the best solutions have positive implications on the leader and team members. Issues like forces in teams that have negative or positive implications on the performance of the team are best handled at team level where each decision made reflect team norms, effectiveness, and the desire to succeed. Success is reflected in a harmonious leadership that results from the servant leadership approach the coach employs in sports without any use of force or coercion (Trompenaars & Voerman, 2009).

Similarities and Gaps in Literature

Literature on servant leadership with special reference to coaching leadership in sports for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball has similarities and gaps that the current study seeks to fill. Many authors including Gould, Dieffenbach, & Moffett (2002) on the servant leadership style provides perspectives on how best the leadership style fits into different organizational backgrounds, with no reference to the servant leadership style for coaches in sports (Bardes, Mayer, & Piccolo, 2008). In the context of the current study, the author agrees with other authors on the definition of servant leadership style as used in many business organizations, but falls short of finding any definition bias to the servant leadership in sports.

On extensive analysis and exploration of available literature, the definition by other authors on servant leadership agrees with the findings of this paper’s author. The working definition commonly agreed upon draws from what Spears (2009) defines as a “process of enabling individuals to grow healthier, wiser, freer and more antonymous through the art of servant-hood” (p.20). Here, the author has not linked the studies on servant leadership with the leadership, not only for coaches, but also the leadership for women in sports. It is only on how to apply the elements in the definition in sports that the author seeks to synchronize with the definition. The author seeks to establish best practices and leadership characteristics to apply the defining components of the servant leadership style as provided in the study with the leadership in sports with special emphasis on the leadership for the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams.

The study seeks to explore how servant leadership has been successful and how to apply the leadership style to succeed in sports to achieve peak performance. Underlying the inquiry is conducting studies on the historical perspective of leadership, which the author draws on the knowledge of different authors, and how it may connects with successful leadership in sports. The author of the study and other authors referenced in the paper commonly agree upon the historical perspectives. There is no gap identified in knowledge on the historical background of leadership in sports especially for women in basketball. The core element in the study is in achieving peak performance, which underlies the study of defining whatever comprises a successful coach. The author draws on literature MacLean and Chelladurai (1995), Leland (1988), and LeUnes and Nation (2002) in identifying the best leadership approach an athletic coach may use to prepare a team to play to achieve the best performance. The contention in the case is team preparedness. The current study has shown weaknesses in addressing the issue of team preparedness, how to deal with the forces inside teams, how to overcome team conflicts, and team dynamics in general. That is because the team members who make the basketball teams are composed of player’s from different backgrounds. Here, the authors referenced in the study and the current study conducted minimal literature and depth of scholarship applied to the athletic arena.

The author gradually merged literature on defining successful coaches, systems to train coaches, models of leadership in sports, gender differences in coaching styles, and women in leadership with the servant leadership style to discover the best leadership style for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. With regard to servant leadership style and women in leadership, the author has discovered gaps that include gaps in the behavioral characteristics of women and men, and the likely implications on the leadership style to achieve peak performance. The current study has established seven core leadership characteristics for sports coaches, which the author seeks to, synchronize with the servant leadership style with special reference to the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. Authors of the seven characteristics of successful coaches had a gap in the literature by failing to link the seven coaches’ leadership characteristics with the servant leadership characteristics and the implications on the performance of basketball teams. The author explored ways to integrate and align the seven characteristics to achieve peak performance. The study further seeks to synchronize motivation, clarity, reflection, persuasion, conceptualization, awareness, context, and commitment with the servant leadership style to achieve peak performance.

The gaps in the above literature were identifying how each of the elements could be integrated into sports leadership literature to provide the best leadership for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. That is in addition to contributing knowledge on the best approach the servant leadership elements could be used as core attributes to achieve peak performance in athletic leadership. The study further established strong relationship between achieving peak performance and servant leadership characteristics used in coaching sports.

A detailed discussion of the servant leadership six characteristics as coined by Greenleaf (1977) of “displaying authenticity, valuing people, developing people, building communities, providing leadership, and sharing leadership” (p.20) were discussed in detail and the author discovered the authenticity to be an element that could improve team performance, knowledge that was in agreement with studies by Whetstone (2002), Annette, Joseph, and Clifford (2010), among others. The author in the current study discovered the implications of authenticity on team performance based on the desire to serve others. The study further demonstrated implications valuing people have on the performance of sports teams. Other findings with similarities with other authors included the element of developing people based on the roles and responsibilities associated with team leaders. Other leadership qualities such as building community, providing leadership, and sharing leadership were in agreement with the findings the author established with the research discovered.

To gain the best knowledge on why servant leadership is the best leadership style to achieve peak performance among Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams, the author conducted a comparatives study with other leadership styles to share differences and similarities in the literature. Research results showed the leadership literature by authors of the autocratic, servant, transactional, transformational, situational, ethical, and inspirational democratic, charismatic, leadership literature were similar to the knowledge of the author of the current study. In that regard, the differences between other leadership styles and the servant leadership style crystallized quickly and indicated the unsuitability of the leadership styles compared with the servant leadership style for the leadership in sports with special reference for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams.

When combining the theoretical and practical aspects of the servant leadership with special reference to Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams, the author took the study further by studying leadership models used in sports. Once again there is a high need for new literature due to the limited amount of literature sharing various leadership styles athletic coaches are using in sports. The leadership models in sports were used as the foundation where knowledge on servant leadership could be merged with literature on leadership models to discover best practices or themes directly correlated with coaches’ win-loss record, student-athlete grade point average, and retention/graduation rates. The underlying rationale provided the basis for merging the knowledge sources to discover which leadership style would also work best to achieve peak performance in sports.

Special emphasis in the current study is the literature on servant leadership style, which may be regarded as the best leadership style for coaches in sports to achieve peak performance. In the context of the servant leadership style, Dr. Jim Laub’s (1998) and Spears (2009), among other authors have provided not only the definition of servant leadership, but developed a scale that organizations can use to measure the effectiveness of the servant leadership style and the consistence of organizational leaders in complying with the six characteristics of the servant leadership style. The study established the facts on servant leadership style to revolve around six characteristics which include “displaying authenticity, valuing people, developing people, building communities, providing leadership, and sharing leadership (Wren, 1995; Greenleaf, 1977). Toward enabling effective leadership, in turn enables employees to work to the fullest potential to achieve the best performance in organizations. The findings fell short of demonstrating the significance and applicability of the six servant leadership characteristics in sports and specifically for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. Here, the current study attempted to connect the six characteristics with the leadership in sports and endeavored to show how the six characteristics are critical in maximizing team success.

The author has explored literature by different authors on servant leadership and various other styles used in a variety of settings. Literature has identified a gap researchers must fill to explain what it takes to be a successful coach, how coaches may improve leadership practices, which models are most effective, how to remove gender differences or barriers, how women leaders are perceived, which characteristics make up successful coaches, and what styles of leadership are being used in today’s coaching arena to achieve peak performance.

Conclusion

Leadership is very important in every aspect of life. There are various models of leadership that a given leader can use in a given organization or group. The applicability of the servant leadership style has been identified from the historical, organizational, and current trends with an analogy in sports and the relative comparisons with other leadership styles established to showcase various strengths and weaknesses. The key strengths include listening, empathy, healing (of oneself and others), awareness of others, situations and oneself, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community underlie coaching leadership the literature review has identified central to the coach providing leadership toward achieving peak performance in sports.

To that end, the literature review draws on different authors to answer the research question on the extent the six servant leadership characteristics influence the performance of Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team, the relative implications of different leadership styles including transactional and autocratic leadership style with servant leadership style on coaches leadership and team performance, the contribution of the servant leadership style to coaches success, and how the servant leadership style leads to the achievement of peak performance in sports. The contributions of the servant leadership to answering the questions are significantly pivoted in the seven servant leadership characteristics as analogues to sports. Authors including Case (1984), Chelladurai and Saleh (1980), Pratt and Eitzen (1989), Wren (1995), Anderson and Gill (1983) discuss gender in sports, have been featured with their contributions, on gender and leadership with key findings showing that gender does not impede on leadership performance. The case with Barnett, Smoll, and Smith (1992), Greenleaf (1977), Gersh (2006), Dimec and Kajtna (2009), Fifer (2006) on coaching leadership and motivational implications on team performance have been discussed, where Bass (1985) correlates leadership to performance among other authors. Theory and practice are interlinked with one’s implications on leadership (Bird, 1977). Authors including Heydarinejad and Adman (2010), among others provide current trends to the servant leadership style.

The rationale of the literature review is to provide the research answer the research questions to determine the extent to which servant leadership style six characteristic are appropriate and best for the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team to achieve peak performance, the relative implications of other leadership styles compared with the servant leadership style in pursuing peak performance impact on the performance of the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team. The research examines in detail to identify how the servant leadership leads Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team to success and the leadership style’s performance implications in sports with analogy on the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team, the focus of the study.

Summary

Chapter two provides a detailed study of the servant leadership style’s six characteristics, a comparative study of the servant leadership style with other leadership models, drawing from the different authors in leadership, leadership theories, implications on organizational performance, historical and current implications, and appropriateness of the servant leadership model in coaching leadership for a Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team compared with other models based on authors who include among others (Volckmann, 2009; Vinod & Sudhakar, 2011; Turman, 2003; Whetstone, 2002; Pyun, Kwon, Koh, & Wang, 2010; Greenleaf, 1977; & Gersh, 2006). Evidence from the literature review shows coaches’ leadership drawing a parallel with business, military, and other organizations show strong consistent trends of shifting toward the servant leadership style based on the six characteristics. Other authors contradict the servant leadership model for specific situations. They specifically point out at the fact that servant leadership is time consuming and therefore may be inappropriate when there is need for urgency.

Evidence shows other leadership styles appropriate for unique leadership environments with the servant leadership style most appropriate and leaders showing a bias toward the leadership style, unanswered questions remain that include what the implications could be by integrating other leadership styles and developing a universal leadership model. Current implications include integrating the servant leadership style to coaching leadership to achieve peak performance in sports. The research has a gap that needs to be addressed to include the universality of the model, weaknesses, and effectiveness of the leadership style on its economic standing on the performance of the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball team. Mixed research methods will inform the study on the leadership variables and one’s relative implications on coaching leadership with the servant leadership the underlying model to achieve peak performance in sports. This research has various implications. To the coaches, they will find this material very useful in deciding on which strategy to use on coaching players. To the future researcher, this material will be a guide on what steps should be taken on coming up with a successful research in this field. This research has answered the questions raised in the research proposal. However, the question that still remains unanswered due to a lot of contradiction from various scholars is the best combination of leadership models that can be used in coaching basketball.

Methods

Introduction

The purpose of this study is to discover the best leadership style with specific focus on the servant leadership style among different leadership styles for coaches providing leadership for sports teams to achieve individual and team peak performance with practical significance on the performance of Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. The rationale was to identify the best leadership style to provide quality athletic ethical coaches with refined knowledge on the significance of athletics and fully knowledgeable on sports to provide leadership to achieve peak performance in basketball sports among women athletes.

Toward that end, the mixed study method integrating qualitative and quantitative methods underlie the study based on data gathering tools that include interviews, questionnaires, surveys, observations, document analysis with the Organizational Leadership Assessment Scale formulated by Dr. Laub (1998) forming the benchmark for evaluating the six servant leadership characteristics in comparison with other leadership styles on organizational performance. To successfully address the research, the target population included 12 NCAA Division II female athletes and four NCAA Division II athletic directors, with a balance on ethnic backgrounds and gender to address the variables used in the study. The resulting data will be compiled to answer the questions as to the need for a new leadership style to address performance issues aiming at achieving peak performance because of the leadership style with the study drawing on both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Research Design (General, Quantitative, Qualitative)

The problem specific to this study is how to identify the best leadership style researched on qualitative and quantitative research paradigms to explore the impact of leadership styles and implications on individual and team performance. The logic of the study was to draw from the impact and alignment of the six servant leadership characteristics developed by Dr. Jim Laub (1998) to provide coaching leadership to achieve peak performance. Both dependent (DV) and independent variables (IDV) were drawn based on the six servant leadership characteristics with the Leadership Assessment Scale (LAS) developed by Dr Laub (1998) providing behavioral variables against which female participants at different levels of basketball teams are measured. The problem provides independent variables that impact on the research include behavioral variables that affect dependent variables in the study. Independent variables are behavioral and draw from Dr. Jim Laub’s (1998) leadership scale that affects the behavior and the ultimate individual and team performance outcomes attached to the appendix of this report. The mixed methods correlational study will use qualitative and quantitative approaches to establish the strength of the relationship between organizational performance and the leadership style.

The leadership style can be changed with the underlying attributes and dependent variables. The traits in the individuals can be changed affecting performance outcomes as the independent variables. In brief independent variables (IDV) include leadership style as the changeable variable, and the dependent (DV) variable are performance outcomes of team and individual members of the basketball teams. Dependent variables were also drawn from the LAS developed by Dr. Laub that affect performance outcomes based on individual behavior and perceptions of different leadership styles at different levels. In the context of this study, educational levels, authenticity, morality, clarity, intimacy, and transformation of character will influence organizational performance. Clarity derives from team leader’s humility, accountability, integrity, and provision of security while authenticity draws on acceptance, equality, collaboration, availability, and intimacy is based on moral actions. Based on the servant leadership style, the research will seek to investigate values embedded in core beliefs and principles and independent variables, which draw on honesty, vision, integrity, trust, empowerment, pioneering, and modeling.

The procedure used was formulated to successfully conduct this study by addressing the research questions posed earlier. The mixed method research design was appropriately applied to address the research in the context of the research problem. The research problem in context was to explore the best leadership style for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball coaches in sports with an analogy based on the impact of leadership styles different organizations have embraced with a focus on the servant leadership style’s six characteristics on organizational performance for individuals and teams to achieve peak performance. The different leadership styles included autocratic leadership style with weaknesses and gaps that the servant leadership style bridges, becoming the best leadership style to adopt to address the leadership for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams.

According to Steckler, McLeroy, Goodman, Bird, and McCormick (1992), mixed methods for the current study was to seek to identify the best leadership for sports at the NCAA Division I and II institutions levels with a special focus on Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams drawing a parallel with theories on organizational performance based on analysis of qualitative and quantitative data emphasizing on the variables of the six characteristics of the servant leadership style underlying the theoretical framework (Bryman, 2001).

The next phase was to consider the relative merits analogous of the mixed study methods and how the method applied to this study. Mixed methods provided the flexibility of grouping different data sets under qualitative paradigm that is subjective and quantitative that is an objective paradigm (Wolf, 2010). The mixed methods paradigm provided ample opportunities to use small or large numbers of athletic coaches and athletes depending on the population and other underlying constraints, eliminating the limits that may be imposed on the population size as a precaution. Critically, the sample size presented both benefits and disadvantages specific to each approach used in the research. By concurring with Johnson and Onwuegbuzie (2004) who have studied and provided the rationale for mixed methods, the mixed methods provided data triangulation with collaborative and convergence effects across different organizational leadership styles studied in the literature review directly affecting organizational performance.

This phase included the rationale of exploring the benefits of mixed methods from practical and theoretical studies, which included better instrumentation in data collection, better provision and comprehension of the findings, broader comprehension of the leadership style’s impact on organizational performance with an analogy on sports coaching leadership style as relates to sports leadership (Greene, Caracelli, & Graham, 1989; Hammersley, 2005). That was in special reference to the studies by Greene et al. (1989) who show how this could improve the validity of outcomes based on the multiple approaches and perspectives of addressing similar issues from two perspectives impacting on coaching leadership and the performance of basketball teams as a crucial variable. The research paradigm, according to Greene et al. (1989), was identified as complimenting results by requiring a critical evaluation of the results obtained from the study by seeking for better elaboration of the findings, which allows for the enhancement of the results provided on the behavioral impact of the leadership style, focusing on illustrations of the outcomes based on clarity with quantitative and qualitative techniques.

The mixed methods paradigm was used to overcome the positivist associated with quantitative data and the negativism of qualitative data (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 1998). Greene et al. (1989) view the mixed method paradigm as “discovering paradoxes and contradictions that lead to a re-framing of the research question” p 2. The study borrows from Greene et al. (1989) who add to the study by the argument that mixed methods provide findings that inform both qualitative and quantitative methods by providing in-depth inquiries into how servant leadership is the best leadership style based on authenticity, making people feel valued, issues using different research instruments suitable to each environment. Tashakkori and Teddlie (1998) show that concurrent data collection based on the qualitative and quantitative data collection paradigms adds to the benefits of the two approaches mixed into one paradigm, with the sequence of use determining the progress in the research logic. That allows the research to use surveys already mentioned elsewhere, individual structured or semi-structured interviews focusing on a sample of the population, to minimize the potential for making conclusions on falsified information (Becker & Bryman, 2004).

The potential weaknesses of triangulation of the mixed methods lies in the varied information presented by the female and male participants across the ethnic divides with each source regarded as authentic when the reverse holds true (Greene & McClintock, 1985). This makes it difficult to choose between two varied opinions when answers provided with the underlying concepts not explained with sufficient clarity influence the responses (Greene & McClintock, 1985). That is in addition to triangulation failing to provide valid sources of data if no measures are in place to ensure validity, without measures on how to deal with multiple conflicts mentioned above (Greene & McClintock, 1985). A weakness identified in the research included the subjectivity and objectivity of the questions paused strongly relying on the perceptions of the researcher who formulates predetermined questions administered on the respondents.

That is in addition to the subjectivity of the respondents where quantitative design paradigm draws on tools such as questionnaires, official statistics, document analysis, interviews, systematic observations, and closed ended structured and qualitative paradigm drawing on tools that include semi-structured tools, questionnaires, document analysis, interviews, observations, an image analysis with associated weaknesses for each tool (De Vaus, 2001). Among other key weaknesses identified in the study were the problems associated with making the findings compatible to the study. The difficulty includes combining sampling strategies focused on large samples, multiple cases under investigations, and generalized representations based on the quantitative paradigm compared with the qualitative paradigm that allowed the use of small samples, with a focus on a small scale study that was non-representative of a large population, limiting the implications of the research (Meenan et al., 1992). Pacing constituted beginning with the qualitative paradigm toward the quantitative paradigm to address the domain of the inquiry when selecting the research instruments.

The next phase in identifying the appropriateness of mixed methods for the study was to examine the primary factors underlying the design, which included the characteristics of the population used in the study (Williams & Richardson, 1993). Salient features for the sports teams included contextual issues including age, gender, culture, and educational levels. Cultural issues included culture and traditions, and ethnicity issues. The historical context included identifying knowledge base of the participants, historical events, language, and attitudes and beliefs. These factors have been researched and identified to affect the response rate of participants with the historical context influencing the overall response rates as societies evolve with time to adapt to new beliefs, values, language and attitudes shifting the knowledge base of the people (Williams & Richardson, 1993; Creswell, 1999).

Qualitative Paradigm

Qualitative data was to derive from open-ended questionnaires and other tools mentioned above administered on the target population used for the study drawn with a sample size taken from athletes, athletic teams, coaches leading athletic teams, and college athletic directors, based on observations and interviews administered to the target populations to make the research data reliable and valid. The philosophical perspective of leadership based on the six characteristics of servant leadership style based on Dr. Laub’s (1998) leadership scale constituted the strength of the qualitative data.

The convergence of ideas was influenced by the data based on qualitative variables. The study constituted dependent and independent variables used in the research process. The qualitative paradigm was focused on data from a small sample size with a single sized study. The current study constitutes both large and small sample sizes, which may not be representative of the entire population under investigations. Each of the tools used in the study mentioned above. The basis for the scores are the variables used in Dr. Laub’s (1998) measurements scale of the six characteristics of the servant leadership style’s variables atched to the appendix of this report. The non-preemptive nature of the qualitative paradigm was based on the research questions in response to the context of establishing the best leadership style for coaches in sports.

The approach used to create data for the qualitative study was to draw from the context of the study based on different leadership styles, a comparatives study with the servant leadership style based on the six leadership characteristics. By exploring the most appropriate data for the study, the combined approach could provide the numerical data for analysis. By enumerating data it may identify response patterns.

Quantitative Paradigm

Quantitative data constituted closed ended questionnaires administered on the respondents based on behavior, attitude, and performance in relation to the LAS scale in addition to other content analysis of theoretical sources of information to measure scores associated with the servant leadership styles’ six characteristics and one’s influence on the performance of a coach’s leadership in sports (Onwuegbuzie & Teddlie, 2003).

The data from qualitative and quantitative data will be mixed based on multiple studies to analysis. The rationale for using mixed methods include overcoming weaknesses associated with either of the methods, to optimize the benefits associated with the results. Inferential statistics was used to test the results of the hypothesis formulated for the study, including variance and t-tests with relations to the servant leadership six characteristics in relation to performance outcomes. The results tabulated included servant leadership items such as service to others, trust, listening, ethical or moral behavior, and respect for others at individual level. On teamwork level, the items under investigation included concern for others, integrity, input and feedback, and transparency, fairness, accountability, responsibility, and accountability with the statistical significance of the p.value evaluated against the expected outcome on the hypothesis test.

In theory, the outcome based on a two-tailed test to examine the changes in organizational performance based on the six-servant leadership characteristics to achieve peak performance. The two-tailed test seeks to establish if there is change in organizational performance by drawing on the statistical p-value obtained from the above inferential statistical results.

Appropriateness of the Design

The mixed methods research design used in exploring the research had been identified appropriate for the study drawing on the theoretical and practical benefits and implications on organizational performance relative to the leadership style for coaches in basketball sports analogous to servant leadership style theories and research findings. Justifiably, both qualitative and quantitative paradigms combined into a single mixed research method will provide answers to the question on why the servant leadership style characterized by six leadership elements is the most appropriate for leading the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams based on the variables in the Organizational Leadership Assessment created by Dr. Laub (1998).

The mixed method paradigm draws on the strengths associated with qualitative and quantitative techniques mentioned above with specifics including the ability to provide both numerical data for testing leadership concepts, observations from the qualitative and the quantitative paradigms to provide comparative data for correlation and enhancement to make clear cut decisions on the impact of the leadership being studied on the performance of individuals in relation to achieving success. These paradigms concur at the point of transformations of one type of data to the other through a transformative design as a key advantage.

Based on Dr. Laub’ (1998) leadership scale, subjectivity and objectivity leading to transformative design could allow the study to, with clarity provide answers to the research questions. Quantitizing and qualitizing plays a significant role as a benefit for using both research paradigms.

Research Questions (Quantitative or Qualitative) and Hypotheses (for Quantitative studies only)

The research questions posed in the study to address the issues associated with establishing the best leadership style for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams from qualitative and quantitative data acquisition paradigms provide the underlying direction to determine the impact on organizational performance of the six servant leadership characteristics with special reference to leadership in coaching, which constitutes the first research question. In the context of the study, the second research question seeks to clarify the implications of other leadership styles with special reference to the servant leadership style on organizational performance. Each of the democratic, coaching, autocratic, transactional, situational, ethical, inspirational leadership styles are examined in detail on organizational with relative merits compared with the servant leadership style to clarify the significance of focusing on the servant leadership style as the best to achieve peak performance among the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams.

To fully strengthen the rationale for the servant leadership style, the third research question brings into light the relative merits of the servant leadership styles seeking to determine the leadership effectiveness in leading the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams to greater success with the ultimate goal of attaining peak performance. This question provides the research with the basis to synchronize performance related issues with the fourth research question on the key attributes of the servant leadership style and appropriate learning points for coaches of basketball teams to adopt and implement in providing team leadership for success in performance. The qualitative and quantitative paradigms play significant roles in collecting and analyzing data to draw from the strengths of both paradigms while overcoming the weaknesses that might be associated with either of the designs. That is in addition to the flexibility of converting qualitative data into quantitative data for numerical analysis allowing the use of mixed methods discussed above.

Population/Participants (Quantitative or Qualitative)

The population used for the study included 12 women and four men basketball teams with diversity in ethnic backgrounds, gender, age, and different educational backgrounds. Based on the mixed methods paradigm, both qualitative and quantitative methods will constitute the approaches of collecting data from the participants. The qualitative paradigm will draw on behavioral responses on the six characteristics of the servant leadership style with Dr. Luab’s leadership assessment scale while the quantitative paradigm will be based on analysis of quantitative responses such as closed ended questionnaires and hypothesis tests.

Informed Consent

An informed consent form provided the respondents with the confidence to participate as the responses could only be used for the purpose of this study without any disclosure except at the express permission of the participant.

Sampling Frame (informed consent, inclusions and exclusions for samples and justification)

The sample size used in mixed research methods was decisive based on the qualitative and quantitative paradigms. The sampling frame was selected based on a combination of random sampling and no-random sampling techniques. The techniques were used because the research could not provide an exhaustive and complete list of the populations in different ethnic backgrounds and participants in basketball teams. That was in addition to the inability to provide a complete list of teams influenced by gender bias and ethnic influences.

The frame which constitutes data sources included a list of sources of data that included internet searches from different databases, literature review of leadership theories compared with the servant leadership style with six defining characteristics against the leadership scale developed by Dr. Laub (1998) to define the universe of the population used in the study.

The sample used in the study was believed to be representative of the basketball population because women basketball teams were drawn from different regions and colleges, the age of the selected participants was identified to be representative of the age ranges for basketball players and leadership coaches, each sample of the population consisted leadership from different levels of coaches, trained and not trained in leadership. The complete sample consisted of 12 national basketball women teams and four basketball male teams with fair distribution of the samples with the aim of focusing on the leadership for Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. The sample frame used in the study provided benefits that included using a sunset of the entire population in basketball team with the bias of Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams, was viewed as less expensive, required less time, had a high degree of accuracy, and could be applied to provide a statistical inference of other Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams, and provided unbiased results.

The sampling frame included female and male athletes and coaches in basketball teams aged above 18 years. These included the units of analysis who were either female or male. A stratified sampling approach was used with the underlying rationale to provide fair and equal representation of the samples in the study. Procedurally, the entire population considered for the study was strategies into three categories that included male, female, and coaches with and without prior leadership training and skills in caching leadership in basketball. That was because the population targeting the three categories could not be provided with the equal opportunities of being selected as they were identified with unique attributes that were not common across the teams.

A clear evaluation of the fitness of the sample to the research goals were conducted drawing from the theories underlying the appropriateness of the samples used. Samples excluded were vetted against education, appropriateness leadership positions or skills, and inability to precipitate in basketball teams sports.

Confidentiality

Confidentiality is crucial in any research as it provides the respondents with the confidence that third parties cannot use information provided.

Geographic Location

The geographic location of the study included covering four women’s NCAA Division II basketball programs from the Peach Belt Conference (PBC) located in middle Georgia to obtain data that could be generally applicable to college basketball programs. The main assumption here is that the results and demographic characteristics are applicable across all female basketball teams. That was in addition to allowing the use of a diversity of participants from different ethnic backgrounds and environments with the benefit of using the Internet as providing the flexibility of gathering large amounts of data from different geographic locations.

Instrumentation

Instrumentation draws on both qualitative and quantitative tools used to obtain data from the sample selected for the study. From the qualitative and quantitative perspectives, instruments used include questionnaires, interviews, and surveys. The first instrument used in the study included the Leadership Assessment Scale developed by Dr. Laub (1998).

The tool quantitatively measured the perceptions about leadership coaching in sports consisting of 66 survey questions evaluated on a 5 point Linkert scale. Key evaluation elements included “(0 = No response or Undecided, 1 = Strongly Disagree, 2 = Disagree, 3 = Agree, 4= Strongly Agree)” (Dr. Laub, 1998). The variables included include “values people, develops people, builds community, displays authenticity, provides leadership, and shares leadership” (Dr. Laub, 1998). Each of the constructs had questions specific to each subscale. The underlying theory in the development of the instrument was based on a 14 member panel that Laub used to develop the instrument (Laub, 1999). Each of the items included in the study were evaluated and found to be necessary constructs underlying the definition of the servant leadership style.

In the study, separate fields were provided for studying different people from different backgrounds including education, leadership, ethnic, gender, and role in basketball teams across the entire basketball team schools. An aggregate score of 300 was considered from the 12 female basketball teams and four male basketball coaches with a standard deviation of 41.1. A 0.98 Cronbach-Alpha coefficient was identified and expected to provide reliability if the instrument with associated Cronbach-Alpha coefficients on the impact of the servant leadership style.

Questionnaires were used based on the appropriateness of the questionnaire and the survey to address leadership issues that impact on organizational performance based on the leadership styles with special reference to the six characteristics of the servant leadership style against the leadership scale developed by Dr. Laub (1998). A similar procedure was used with the interviews and surveys conducted with measures to ensure validity and reliability of the instruments addressing each instrument in place.

Questionnaires provided the instrumentation to provide factual behavioral leadership information and the behavioral impact of the leadership on the athletic teams, provide athletes opinions and attitudes toward coaching leadership on performance, with the specific target on the six characteristics of the servant leadership style, to measure the degree of satisfaction on athletes based on leadership addressing athlete’s needs, and provide appropriate baseline information acting as a basis for tracking any new changes on leadership and associated impact on individual and team performance and how leadership motivates individuals and team to achieve peak performance in sports.

The underlying rationale of using questionnaires included low costs incurred to reach a large number of athletes geographically dispersed over large regions, provided the flexibility of providing feedback at the respondents’ own time, and could contain more in-depth information to the respondents. In theory and practice, questionnaires suffered from low response rates, weaknesses that can be overcome by increasing the target population and making follow-ups, personal bias in filling the questionnaires can be overcome by clarifying questions with reminders sent to the respondents to provide feedback. Key items regarding team satisfaction based on different leadership style included team performance in relation to the six characteristics of the servant leadership style.

Interview items included in the study are tabulated below in response to the servant leadership style. Interviews consisted of another set of instrumentation. Developed through appropriate identification of questions specific to the context of the study on servant leadership as the best for coaches to achieve peak performance, appropriately detail, ordered questions, probes, and pilot questions, the research employed the instrument typical of its benefits. Structured, semi-structured, and unstructured interviews focused on taking to the responses face to face and listening to them to benefit from the qualitative and quantitative research paradigms (Bryman, 2001).

In this case, open ended questions were used, which in theory, according to Kvale (1996) is an interchange of views between two or more people on a topic of mutual interest, sees the centrality of human interaction for knowledge production, and emphasizes the social situatedness of research data” p.14. Each respondent was given ample time to talk about personal experiences as coined in theory that “the interview is not simply concerned with collecting data about life: it is part of life itself, its human embeddedness is inescapable” (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2000). Interviews have the inherent benefits of addressing individual concerns and a face to face encounter with respondents that provides the flexibility of allowing the respondents to freely provide in-depth information about their attitudes toward a specific issue consisting of personalized responses, flexibility in probing the interviewee further, high return rates, and cross cultural.

Interviews have data collection complexities that include, according to O’Leary (2004), biasness associated with conformity, social desirability, disinterestedness, and lack of training. To overcome the weaknesses, prior training formed part of the process to ensure effectiveness.

Data Collection

Data collections based on the mixed research method focuses on both data collection paradigms, which include sequential and concurrent data collections strategies. According to Creswell and Plano Clark (2007), data collection strategies relevant to a particular study follow a concurrent approach. The concurrent data collection strategy allows for quantitative and qualitative data collections with the flexibility of converting data from one form to the other to address the study as fits the research.

Quantitative data will be collected to compare the impact of the six characteristics of the servant leadership style developed by Dr. Laub (1998), resulting impact on organizational performance, how the servant leadership style compares with other leadership styles discussed in other sections, and how appropriate the servant leadership style could be toward achieving peak performance among Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams. The responses are accessed on their level of agreement with the six characteristics of the servant leadership style focusing on the leadership scale developed by Dr. Laub (1998). The leadership assessment scale allows organizations to discover the impact of the leadership style’s variables on organizational performance in theory that could be used to access the impact of the six characteristics of the servant leadership style on organizational performance with a parallel on coaching for the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams.

In practice, a variety of surveys and interviews conducted with different respondents provided challenges to pre-existing views on different leadership styles impact on organizational performance of different survey items. Because of pre-existing research on different leadership styles and the theoretical formulations and findings on their impact on how people perceive leadership and functioning of employees under different leadership styles, the concurrent data collection approach uses structured and semi-structured data. Each topic specific questions were paused with each leadership element of the six servant leadership characteristics with open-ended fields for the respondents to provide views and perceptions about the leadership style specific to each item under investigations.

From a qualitative data collection perspective, the method proved fairly intuitive to the respondents, provided unlimited fields for data collection especially when employing web-based data collections applications, provided the respondents with the flexibility to post extensive comments on each leadership item, and provided precedence to other structured sections of the data collections sections, with the main weakness of respondents failing to provide follow-ups when required. To ensure complete data collections and biasness of any other procedure while capitalizing on the strengths of different data collection strategies, a sequential approach was integrated into the concurrent data collections approach. That was to optimize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses associated with different data collections methods.

The sequential method drawing on the quantitative paradigm provided the benefits of iterative data collection strategies with subsequent data collection methods influencing each subsequent step in the data gathering process. That was because, the research required significant amounts of data to reduce any weaknesses associated with drawing conclusions on unrepresentative data. Statistical packages used to provide clear-cut approaches for subsequent data to argument the next phase.

The sequential approach included factoring time availability and the respondents who had limited time to respond to the paused questions providing a string benefit for using the approach. To address the time constraints the limiting the respondents are participating in the study, a strategy including collecting survey data and later on conducting in-depth interviews. The sequential approach uses closed ended questionnaires, with the response categories developed from different organizational leaderships. At the lower levels of conducting the study, individualized questionnaires aimed at exploring each survey responses and general perspectives of leadership variables and their implications on organizational performance.

The time constraint on concurrent data collections was overcome where respondents had the freedom to respond at their own time. In addition to providing the research time sufficient time to analyze the responses, allowing the research team to tailor subsequent questions appropriate for the subsequent studies. Respondents may make mistakes, the sequential approach provided the flexibility to make follow-ups with the aim of clarifying any ambiguities that may get into the way of the data collections process. Survey data and in-depth interviews could provide actual data that could be used to make specific decisions affecting the performance of employees relative to a leadership style.

Key disadvantages identified with the sequential data collections strategies included weaknesses associated with the loss of depth and flexibility especially during the quantization period of qualitative data, the multidimensional nature of qualitative data with the potential to introduce new and different themes from the original theme, with new and emergent themes. Quantitative data in this study is prone to the weakness of single set of responses making the approach unidimensional without the potential to adjust and change with emerging trends. The strategy might compel the research team to reduce the size of the sample to address the limitations associated with the statistical methods of data coding and analyzing data. Simple statistical measures of association could provide the problem of quantitization compelling the research team to ensure the sample used for statistical analysis is sufficiently big enough to address any discrepancies that might arise from the results of statistical analysis.

Date Analysis (Quantitative or Qualitative)

Both qualitative and quantitative data analysis approaches qualify for use in the study as the study uses mixed research methods. To analyze the data and provide actionable data for the study, the qualitative data obtained from the study was analyzed by converting the data into with the purpose of creating a comprehensive single data set that is quantized. Among the strategies to use include establishing a numerical value of the frequency with which qualitative code occurs. The large amount of data, time constraints, and benefits of using technology draw on the use of software programs including Atlas or NVivo that are designed to perform the quantization process to generate such reports. Other approaches include establishing numerical frequencies that data occurs within a sample, the percentage responses associated with a particular item, and the number of people inclined toward a specific theme in addition to quantizing the presence of each code against each participant.

The process involved entering data into access database, coding qualitative data and using Atlas or NVivo software programs, linking the responses to another database with quantitative responses, and associations analyzed using the SAS program.

Validity and Reliability

The validity and reliability of the instruments used in the study were evaluated on the ground that these instruments could perform exactly the purpose for which the study was intended. That was in addition to the perspective that self-developed instruments were prone to the potential weaknesses associated with personal weaknesses compelling the research to use already available expert developed tools. In the mixed methods approach, the validity and reliability of the instruments were vetted against qualitative and quantitative paradigms. The quantitative paradigm of the design required validity and reliability measures on the internal, external, content, predictive, ecological, face, and bias. The quantitative paradigm design could require validity and reliability based on the credibility, transferability, evaluative, interpretive, and dependability. In theory Patten, (2004) and Wallen and Fraenkel (2001) agree with Campbell and Stanley (1963) that the validity and reliability issues are influenced by “(a) history, (b) maturation, (c) testing, (d) instrumentation, (e) statistical regression, (f) differential selection, (g) experimental mortality, and (h) selection-maturation interaction” (Campbell & Stanley, 1963), elements evaluated in this study satisfying the research.

To ensure validity and reliability issues were addressed appropriately, questionnaires, interviews, and surveys that formed the backbone of qualitative and quantitative tools based views of the literature review were extensively vetted before use as instruments to gather qualitative and quantitative data based on questionnaires, interviews, and surveys. Specifics included considering content validity and reliability, readability of the instruments, and the layout and structure of the instruments. To ensure content validity and reliability, mock trials of questionnaires, interviews, and surveys were conducted to identify any weaknesses and address any weaknesses that might be detected.

Results of using questionnaires revealed weaknesses that included irrelevant items deviating from the elements in the leadership scale developed by Dr. Laub (1998), failure to include leadership items associated with other leadership styles that include the democratic, coaching, autocratic, transactional, situational, ethical, inspirational, and peak performance leadership styles that could be used to compare with servant leadership characteristics. Other questions paused on the instruments such as relates to penalties for employees not performing to the expectations of the management were identified to constitute content weaknesses. That was in addition to the inclusion and use of terms not clearly understood by the respondents. Each of the instruments used was evaluated against structural conformity to the research. Results showed the need to organize and reformat the structural flow of the instruments to provide logical flow and allow for the coding of responses. Each of the questions evaluated against specifics and generalities showed some significant departure from being specific. An evaluation of the instruments showed a further weakness where no questions were formulated to address cultural and gender issues in leadership, and issues related to different levels of management.

To address the issues identified as weaknesses with the instruments included identifying and removing irrelevant items from the instruments, explaining concepts not clearly explained, restructuring the flow and logic of the instruments, formatting the instruments to address specific issues, ensuring coherence and including well defined variables on different management levels with special reference to leadership in sports and addressing different leadership styles. That was in addition to specifically using both type of questions, that is open ended, closed ended, and other questions with the yes/no options to enable flexibility in data processing.

In chapter two, a number of authors provided rich information on the theoretical and practical implications of the servant leadership style as the best for providing coaching leadership for the Women’s NCAA Division II college basketball teams to achieve peak performance with comparatives studies on other leadership styles mentioned above. The study firmed the basis of the research questions that related to the research instruments selected for the specific to this research. The background information of the research consisting of the bio data of the sample used in the study with little intruding questions on the personal details of each individual.

Crucial issues included in this study included cultural issues as mentioned in the literature review. According to this study, standardized instruments including questionnaires, interviews, and surveys administered to enable comparison of results, increasing the certainty of using the instruments, which in theory and practice does not have a standardized approach of administering a research instrument in a multiple cultural setting. Measures in place to ensure validity and reliability issues were addressed included using language translation tools and procedures with accurate reflection of the background settings of the sample population engaged in the study.

To address the cultural issues, a cross cultural adaptation process including attempts to identify conceptual and item equivalence based on expertise discussions and reflecting from the literature review contributed to study, using translators and translations programs to synthesize translated versions of the research instruments by establishing the connections between the research instruments and the leadership concepts with special reference to the six characteristics of the servant leadership style and the relationship to the leadership scale developed by Dr. Laub (1998). By establishing item equivalence through the literature review with other languages, the translations of the items included in the study targeting the target population provides ample opportunity for the respondents to with clarity respond to the items unambiguously. That is in addition to ensuring semantic adjustments to address different cultural and linguistic settings of the participating population.

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