Leadership traits theories roles and responsibilities

This chapter will provide a review of the literature and research related to the purpose of the study. Because research identifying specific leadership traits of high school athletic directors is almost nonexistent, this literature review begins with a summary of: (a) leadership defined (b) general educational leadership traits and theories, (c) roles and responsibilities, (d) job satisfaction and finish with the (e) summary.

Leadership Defined

Leadership is a term that can be found throughout all workplaces. The meaning of leadership can be defined in a variety of ways. According to Fiedler (1967), leadership is defined by managing group work with appropriate control and organization. According to Dr. Jamie Williams (Sugarman, 1999), leadership is like gravity. You know it’s there, you know it exists, but how do you define it? Nahavandi (2008) explained that researchers disagree with leadership definitions because of the fact that leadership is a complicated phenomenon mixed with the leader, the follower, and the situation. For example, Coach John Wooden’s ability to motivate his men’s basketball program at UCLA to win 11 national championships during his coaching tenure provides evidence of Wooden’s transformational leadership. Wooden inspired his players to play to the best of their ability and to never accept losing. He was also instrumental in making sure that his players stayed very humble in the process.

Hughes et al. (2008) explained that some researchers have paid attention to the leader’s personal traits while others have focused on the relationship between leaders and followers or situational factors that influence leadership behavior.

Roach and Behling (1984) defined leadership as the procedure of guiding an organized team toward achieving its objectives. This is definition is accepted by any sports team that wins a championship or achieves their team goals. Rost (1993) defined leadership as influence dynamics among leaders and followers who attempt to bring true organizational changes that reflect their common goals. Daft (1999) stated that in the new era represented by a dramatic change, an old philosophy of control-oriented leadership is not effective anymore, and that leaders should make effort to retain soft elements of leadership qualities in addition to hard management skills. Watkins and Rikard (1991) defined leadership as the process of influencing the activities of an organized group toward goal achievement. There are many categories, given the different ways the influencing process is played out. Three such categories are transactional leadership transformational leadership, and situational leadership.

Leadership Traits and Theories

Theories of leadership have evolved and debate over the act of leadership, and what is required, continues. This study will explore the leadership traits of high school athletic directors and if they correlate with job satisfaction. According to Young, et al (2010), the documentation of educational leadership traits for high school athletic directors is scarce. However, the traits of organization, roles and responsibilities and job satisfaction of high school athletic directors are prevalent in previous research. Since the twentieth century there have been many researching leadership and creating theories to go with their findings (Dulewicz & Higgs, 2003; Grint, 2000; Higgs, 2002; Kets de Vries, 1993). Leadership theories can be grouped into one of eight theory categories. These eight theories are the “Great Man” theory, trait theories, contingency theory, situational theories, behavioral theories, participative theories, management theories and relationship theories. This research will look into the details of the trait theory, behavioral theories, situational theories, and transformational and transactional leadership. Trait theories will identify which characteristics are shared by leaders. According to Shead (2010) since certain traits are associated with proficient leadership, it assumes that if you could identify people with the correct traits, you will be able to identify leaders and people with leadership potential. Trait theory takes on the assumption that leaders are born with leadership traits or not. This idea appears to be incorrect. Shead (2010) states that it is possible for someone to change their character traits for the worse and that someone who is known for being honest can learn to become deceitful. In addition, someone who is deceitful can learn to become honest. Often times we look for honesty, drive, goal oriented, competent and intelligent people to become our leaders. Between 1940 and into the late 1990’s, researchers (e.g., Dulewicz & Higgs, 2003; Partington, 2003) categorized approaches to leadership theory improvements into several schools, according to time order. Trait school, behavioral school, contingency school, and visionary school were considered the four major trait schools.

The trait school leadership theories were largely popular in the 1940’s. Stogdill (1974) referred to the Great Man Theory, which stated that leaders are different from followers due to common leader traits. Additionally, Turner (1999) supported Stogdill’s (1974) claim about leaders being different from followers by explaining that leaders are born into being great leaders and not made into great leaders. Hogan (1991) explained that traits refer to repetitive patterns in a person’s behavior and the trait approach attempts to explain people’s behavioral trends in terms of certain strengths of traits that they retain. Stogdill (1974) also stated that leaders’ traits are shown through hardwork, friendliness, conscientiousness, and willingness to take on responsibility rather than personality, ambition and physical makeup such as height. Turner’s (1999) research supports Stogdill (1974) by showing that effective managers have traits such as energy and drive, self-confidence, and highly effective communication skills.

The behavioral approach to leadership was well studied between the 1940’s and 1960’s. During this time period, researchers from the University of Michigan and The Ohio State University posited that leaders behaviors can be explained within two independent factors called consideration and initiating structure (Fleishman, 1973; Halpin & Winer, 1957). According to the Ohio State researchers, the term consideration applies to the degree in which leaders show support and friendship towards followers, while the phrase initiating structure applies to the manner in which leaders stress the importance of achieving goals and tasks. According to Bower & Seashore (1966), the behavioral students conducted by the University of Michigan researchers posited that effective group performance shows a relationship with four dimensions of leadership behaviors: support, interaction facilitation, goal emphasis, and work facilitation. The leader support behavior’s shows a relationship with concern for subordinates, while interaction facilitation shows a relationship with reconciling relational conflicts among group members. Bower and Seashore (1966) explained that in sum, goal emphasis and work facilitation are job-centered dimensions, but leaders support and interaction facilitation are employee-centered dimensions. Recent studies by (e.g., Curphy, 2003; Smither, London, Flautt, Vargas, & Kucine, 2003) have claimed that considering certain leadership behaviors are adopted for effective leadership, leadership can be developed. The behavioral school states that, leaders can change their behavior via reflection, organizational development systems, and 360-degree feedback amongst others (McCauley, Ruderman, Ohlott, & Morrow, 1994). According to Bass (1985), these two categories are points on a continuum of leadership behavior. Athletic directors are going to fall into one of the two leadership categories. Bass (1998) described transformational leadership as behavior that transcends the need for rewards and appeals to the followers’ higher order needs, inspiring them to act in the best interest of the organization rather than their own self-interest. Thus, leaders must possess high ethical and moral standards in order to provide the highest reward to the organization. One might infer that even the most ethically and morally charged athletic director cannot possibly provide the highest rewards each and every year to the organization that he/she represents. However, ethics and morals are two very important characteristics in an individual when determining the type of leader one might become. Leadership styles are known to change, and thus a transformational leader could dip into the realm of transactional leadership and vice versa. Generally, personality and character traits can provide us with the determination as to whether or not you are a transformational or transactional leader.

According to Bass (1998) transformational leadership is universally applicable. He proposed that regardless of culture, transformational leaders inspire followers to transcend their own self-interests for the good of the group or organization. Followers become motivated to expend greater effort than would usually be expected. If an AD exemplified Bass’s transformational leadership model, coaches in the school would offer up all that they have to support the athletic director and school that they work for. For example, the athletic director buys-in to the complete offerings of his/her current employer as we continue to transform the area of athletics.

According to Sugarman (1999), excellence in leadership is acquired by people who have a strong sense of vision, have passion and are able to get people to commit 100% and take the necessary action to see that vision becomes a reality. Great leaders excel in the art of communication and motivation, mutual respect, instilling confidence and enthusiasm, and showing credibility and integrity on a consistent basis. Various high school athletic directors and coaches all across the United States create programs teaching their student athletes leadership styles and how they can be applied. One popular program that was used to establish athletic leadership for Wheeler High School’s football team in Valparaiso, Indiana is based off the acronym for L.E.A.D.E.R.S.H.I.P. Coach Snodgrass of Wheeler High School utilized the L.E.A.D.E.R.S.H.I.P. program that he learned while attending the Indiana Football Coaches Association Annual Clinic in 2003. According to Snodgrass (2004), the acronym is as follows: Influence, Integrity, Communication, Attitude, Courage, Sacrifice, Goals, Servant-Hood, Vision, and Perseverance. Each one of these terms forms a strong resilient leadership program for any athletic program. The athletic director must decide how important it is for him or her to provide this type of leadership program to his or her student athletes, school administration, and school community. With the proper education comes an ability to manage, facilitate, and guide. A true leader, however, does not simply read books or study what leadership should be. Rather, a true leader is someone who shows transformational or transactional traits naturally. Providing a program like the one that Wheeling High School provided for its football players shows that the leadership is transformational at this school. Giving the students an opportunity to understand what leadership is all about and how leadership is applied in everyday life allowed those football players at Wheeling High School in Valparaiso, IN to become stronger individuals in the classroom, community, and field. The football coach for this team showed his athletic director a true meaning of transformational leadership.

Bolman and Deal (2003) stated that “leadership is universally offered as a panacea for almost any social problem” (p. 336). Within the athletic arena, leadership is a term used to describe any event which coaches, staff members, administrators, and ADs go above and beyond their normal work day.

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Bolman and Deal (2003) noted further that if leaders lose their legitimacy then they lose the capacity to lead. For example, a high school athletic director has authority but not necessarily leadership. Additionally, a leader is also not necessarily a manager. Many managers do not know how to lead. Bennis and Nanus (1985) asserted that managers do things right, and leaders do the right thing. It is very important for high school athletic directors to understand the distinction between the terms leader and manager because high school athletic directors will not produce a successful leadership style if they cannot distinguish differences in leading and managing.

Leadership and management can be situational. According to Hersey and Blanchard (2001) the situational leadership model combines task and people into a two-by-two chart, which shows four possible leadership styles: telling, selling, participating, and delegating. Bolman and Deal (2003) stated this model distinguishes four levels of subordinate readiness and argues that the appropriate leadership style depends on the situation. The four styles are as follows:

Leadership through participation involves having a high relationship with one’s subordinates with low tasks involved. This style is used when followers are able but unwilling or insecure to accomplish the task at hand. According to Sugarmann (1999), Vince Lombardi says, “Leaders are made, they are not born; and they are made just like anything else has ever been made in this country – by hard work.” Additionally, Sugarmann (1999) stated that leading by example is paramount to becoming known as a great leader.

Leadership through selling is exemplified when there is a high relationship value with followers and the tasks level is high. This style is used when followers are unable, but willing or motivated to accomplish the tasks at hand.

The third style is leadership through delegation, and this is used with there is minimal relationship with followers and a low task requirement. The style is used when followers are able and willing or motivated to accomplish the tasks at hand.

The four possible leadership styles explained by Hersey and Blanchard’s (2001) situational leadership model are significant in the maturation process of a high school athletic director. Each one of these leadership styles could be used during varying circumstances within the athletic director’s position. Hersey and Blanchard’s (2001) situational leadership concept provides supporting information that in order to become an effective leader one must consider all four styles within the situational leadership model.

Situational Leadership

Situational leadership is another theory that focuses on the development of the follower and styles of each leader being exhibited. Hersey and Blanchard (2001) stated that there are four leadership styles (S1 to S4) that match the development levels (D1 to D4) of the followers. The four styles suggest that leaders should put greater or less focus on the task in question and/or the relationship between the leader and the follower, depending on the development level of the follower. The four leadership styles are named, S1 telling and directing, S2 selling and coaching, S3 participating and supporting and S4 delegating and observing.

Hersey and Blanchard (2001) situational theory is broken down as follows:

“S1: Telling / Directing

Follower: R1: Low competence, low commitment / Unable and unwilling or insecure

Leader: High task focus, low relationship focus

When the follower cannot do the job and is unwilling or afraid to try, then the leader takes a highly directive role, telling them what to do but without a great deal of concern for the relationship. The leader may also provide a working structure, both for the job and in terms of how the person is controlled. The leader may first find out why the person is not motivated and if there are any limitations in ability. These two factors may be linked, for example where a person believes they are less capable than they should be may be in some form of denial or other coping. They follower may also lack self-confidence as a result. If the leader focused more on the relationship, the follower may become confused about what must be done and what is optional. The leader thus maintains a clear ‘do this’ position to ensure all required actions are clear.

S2: Selling / Coaching

Follower: R2: Some competence, variable commitment / Unable but willing or motivated

Leader: High task focus, high relationship focus

When the follower can do the job, at least to some extent, and perhaps is over-confident about their ability in this, then ‘telling’ them what to do may demotivate them or lead to resistance. The leader thus needs to ‘sell’ another way of working, explaining and clarifying decisions.

The leader thus spends time listening and advising and, where appropriate, helping the follower to gain necessary skills through coaching methods. Note: S1 and S2 are leader-driven.

S3: Participating / Supporting

Follower: R3: High competence, variable commitment / Able but unwilling or insecure

Leader: Low task focus, high relationship focus

When the follower can do the job, but is refusing to do it or otherwise showing insufficient commitment, the leader need not worry about showing them what to do, and instead is concerned with finding out why the person is refusing and thence persuading them to cooperate. There is less excuse here for followers to be reticent about their ability, and the key is very much around motivation. If the causes are found then they can be addressed by the leader. The leader thus spends time listening, praising and otherwise making the follower feel good when they show the necessary commitment.

S4: Delegating / Observing

Follower: R4: High competence, high commitment / Able and willing or motivated

Leader: Low task focus, low relationship focus

When the follower can do the job and is motivated to do it, then the leader can basically leave them to it, largely trusting them to get on with the job although they also may need to keep a relatively distant eye on things to ensure everything is going to plan. Followers at this level have less need for support or frequent praise, although as with anyone, occasional recognition is always welcome. Note: S3 and S4 are follower-led” (p. 259-261).

Roles and Responsibilities

The focus on the athletic director as an employee, leader, and representative of interscholastic athletics is needed to understand the gravity of where athletic directors come from and who they have become today. Today’s athletic directors have many difficult tasks. It is their job to ensure that interscholastic athletics perform at a very high level. In addition, it is imperative that athletic directors maintain the integrity of the student-athlete. Davis (2002) states that previously, leadership ability was assumed because of athletic success. Today, those in athletic director positions are getting more training and education in administrative leadership. The training and education allow the athletic director to begin providing leadership at the beginning of his/her job. Thus, the success of the interscholastic athletic program hinges on the type of leadership training and education received by the athletic director.

Athletic directors’ job descriptions will continue to evolve as the requirements to managing a successful program evolve. One sample written job description of an athletic director for a small private school in Florida shows that their athletic director will perform the following duties: direct the athletic program, assure that the school complies with all policies and procedures of the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), supervise the scheduling of all athletic contests, identify and recommend the hiring and firing of coaches for each sport, ensure that all school policies and procedures are followed by the entire coaching staff (including, assistant coaches), in addition to many other duties as assigned by the headmaster of the school. After reviewing this job description one could see how little time there might be for an athletic director to provide direct leadership. With all of the tasks listed within the job description the athletic director must provide leadership more via example, rather than through direct communication with his/her student-athletes and coaching staff. Doing nothing more than following the specific tasks list of the job description above would associate the athletic director with transactional rather than transformational leadership. Simply following the task list of the job description would essentially provide the student-athletes with a basic and universal athletic program. The athletic director would also be performing his or her job duties for the sake of getting the most basic job done. This shows the community that the interest level of providing leadership on a much higher level to the community, student-athletes, and administration is obsolete. Most people are able to complete the tasks that are provided for them by a school administration. What exactly does this do for the advancement and recognition of the efforts put forth by the student-athletes, as well as teaching the student-athletes and coaches the value of having strong ethics and morals? The next sample job description is from a public school in Virginia:

Athletic Director Requirements and Responsibilities are to work with administration and the assistant athletic director to create and maintain a comprehensive program for student activities that emphasizes positive public relations, coaching performance, and student recognition, utilize a computerized software program for scheduling, prepares and distributes schedules for athletic and academic competitions, including contracts where required, supervise the preparation and distribution of eligibility lists, ensure that all students participating in athletic or academic competition are eligible, and have a Virginia High School License (VHSL) physical form and Stonewall Jackson High Schools Handbook (SJHS) sign off on file, oversee the athletic/academic activities budget, approve all athletic expenditures, follow school procedures for ordering, and determine allocations for athletic/academic program with the principal, obtain officials, ticket takers, clock operators, announcers, etc. for all home events, work with the transportation department to arrange transportation for away events and practices where necessary, attend district, regional, and state VHSL meetings, ensure that annual equipment and uniform inventories are conducted by head coaches, and assist head coaches in updating equipment/uniforms, assist principal in selection of coaching staff, complete evaluation form for each head coach with an endorsement by the principal at the end of the season, ensure that head coaches submit required documentation in a timely fashion at the end of each season, including evaluation form for assistant coaches, inventories, end of season reports, etc, work with the Booster Club in coordinating their activities, including presenting requests for funding for all programs to the Booster Club, submit news releases on awards, etc. to local media, supervise the maintenance of the Sports Zone web page and ensure that it is up-to-date at all times, inform local media, officials, coaches, bus drivers and administrators immediately upon cancellation of an event and rescheduled dates as soon as available; post cancellations/rescheduled games on web site, prepare money for ticket takers, water for officials, scoreboard, PA system, etc. for home events, supervise events in conjunction with the building administrators, serve as a liaison between school clubs, departments and administration for scheduling events which do not conflict with VHSL athletic and academic events, work with custodial staff for proper maintenance of facilities and equipment.

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When comparing the two job descriptions above, one can see how important the athletic director position is to interscholastic athletics. Each athletic director shares many of the same responsibilities regardless of the population within the school with which they are employed. As an employee, the Athletic Director is the second most important position next to the school’s Principal.

High school athletic directors are vital to ensuring that the climate of the school which they direct will stay positive and energized. The athletic director as a leader is an integral part of the school system. Each year, the job description of athletic directors becomes more complex. Recently, responsibilities added to the athletic director’s job description are (a) purchasing and distribution of equipment, supplies, and uniforms, (b) planning and scheduling for the use of facilities, (c) public relations, (d) fund-raising, (e) legal and medical protection for coaches and student-athletes, (f) compliance with national and state policies and procedures, (g) administration of events, (h) completion of the goals and objectives of the school, and (i) implementation and management of media events (Smith, 1993). These responsibilities make it highly unlikely that just one individual can effectively manage a successful interscholastic athletic program, especially at a large school with a comprehensive athletic program. AD’s must be willing to put the time and effort into getting the job done. According to Barnhill, (1998) in order to do so, a high school athletic director must call on his/her support staff, such as coaches and other administrators at the school. Additionally, Barnhill (1998) stated the high school athletic director must be a leader with the ability to delegate and manage delegated tasks.

If the athletic director fails at delegating and managing the tasks necessary to lead a successful athletic program, his/her coaches will begin to lose faith in the athletic director’s ability to lead. The many responsibilities that an athletic director assumes when taking a position within administration are largely dictated by the athletic director’s fellow administrators. The athletic director’s position is supported by many other administrators such as the director of development, dean of students, director of advising, director of admissions, and director of college recruitment to name a few. The director of development will help the athletic director with fundraising for athletics, the dean of students assists the athletic director with student-athlete disciplinary issues, the director of admissions assists the athletic director in qualifying the students for eligibility, and the director of college recruitment assists the athletic director in qualifying student athletes for college recruitment. With all of these administrators working together the leadership within the school is strong and successful.

The athletic director’s ability to recruit co-workers to assist in leading the department of athletics as well as the institution itself would classify him/her as a transformational leader. As stated earlier according to, Bass (1997) transformational leadership is universally applicable. He proposed that regardless of culture, transformational leaders inspire followers to transcend their own self-interests for the good of the group or organization. In order for this to occur the transformational leader must possess certain characteristics to inspire followers. According to Parks and Quarterman (2003) stated, “those characteristics include: trusting his or her subordinates, meaning that a good leader will make use of employee’s energy and talent. The key to productive relationship is mutual trust. Secondly, develop a vision for employees to follow a visionary leader. They want to know what they are working for. Thirdly, keeping his or her cool, explains that leaders demonstrate their mettle in crisis under fire. They inspire others to remain calm and to act intelligently. Fourth, they are experts at what they do, informing us that employees are much more likely to follow a leader that radiates confidence, is intuitive, and continues to master the profession. Fifth, they invite dissent, meaning a leader is willing to accept a variety of opinions and integrate them. Sixth, they simplify the position, so that leaders can focus on what is important and reach elegant, simple answers to complex problems by keeping the details to themselves. Lastly, they encourage risk. Risk encourages employees to take chances and readily accept error” (p. 179-180). One who exudes all of these characteristics is often seen as a leader in sport that is few and far between.

While it is important that any leader become an effective manager, being an effective manager and an effective leader are two different matters. According to Hersey and Blanchard (2001) the definition of management is the “process of working with and through individuals and groups to accomplish organizational goals” (p. 9). In addition, they defined leadership as “the process of influencing the activities of an individual or a group in effort toward goal achievement in a given situation” (p. 78). Some theorists suggest that both management and leadership are necessary to those who seek professional management in high school athletics and other sport careers. Parks and Quarterman (2003) stated that many athletic directors find themselves involved with management as a process approach. This approach sees managers using interactive activities such as planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting in order to accomplish the goals and objectives of the organization or institution. Conversely, the remaining athletic directors consider themselves as a leader in some capacity. As previously noted, two possible leadership styles of high school athletic directors nationwide are transformational and transactional. According to Bass (1985), transactional leaders are engulfed in the way of thinking that compliance is the key. The coach will get rewarded if he/she follows directions and orders. Additionally, Bass (1985) identified two factors as composing transactional leadership. Leaders can transact with followers by rewarding effort contractually, telling them what to do to gain rewards, punishing undesired action, and giving extra feedback and promotions for good work. Such transactions are referred to as contingent reward (CR) leadership. Field and Herold (1997) described transactional leadership as a reward-driven behavior, where the follower behaves in such a manner as to elicit rewards or support from the leader. If a high school athletic director is primarily transactional in style, coaches who work for that high school athletic director will only pursue the notion of success if they know ahead of time that there is a reward for achieving that success. In some instances, a primarily transactional leadership style may actually derive from the athletic director’s own quest for external, tangible rewards. So, the question arises with many transactional leaders as to why they are involved with coaching or administration if all they are looking for is an end reward? Some administrators in athletics have not had relevant sports management training and likely have developed expertise in other areas, such as business, physical education, or simply general education. A high school athletic director with a traditional business background might be brought in by the administration simply to raise funds for the athletic program, manage the program, and direct the program much like one would manage a corporate operation. Likewise, a high school athletic director who is brought in with a physical education background is traditionally done so because of his or her success with coaching the student-athlete and having the ability to get through to the student-athlete as needed to provide a successful interscholastic program. The umbrella that encompasses this can be very lucrative for the school if done correctly. In other words, an athletic director who has a physical education background starts out building relationships with the student-athlete’s, this in turn leads to success for multiple sports, which then leads to recognition in the local papers for the student-athletes, the athletic program as a whole, and the school itself. Recognition of these three items then begins a domino effect of local student-athletes transferring into the school to help continue building on the program’s success. Shortly after this, the parents and the community members may begin donating to the school and sports programs. The coaches are rewarded for their success, the athletic director is rewarded for his or her success and the school is rewarded for its success. In this scenario, a very strong overtone of transactional leadership comes into play for all parties involved and the emphasis is strictly on what the program can deliver to each participant. One may even begin questioning the true spirit of the athletic program as well as the ethics, morals, and vision of all parties involved.

In addition, Bass (1985) states that transactional leaders are seen as administrators who manage by exception. According to Parks and Quarterman (2003), the athletic director will follow the performances of his or her coaching staff and will only take measures of correction when mistakes occur or failure to comply with the goals, mission, and values or the institution are seen. This athletic director does not have contact with his or her staff unless something goes wrong. Lastly, a laissez-faire leadership style is present as a sub-style within the greater transactional leadership definition. Parks and Quarterman (2003) stated this style is not often seen amongst the staff and administration of a successful interscholastic athletic program as it means little or no leadership or contact is made by the athletic director with his or her staff members.

In today’s world of athletics, one can find plenty of reasons to question the ethical leadership within every organization involved in the sports realm. Ethics should be the basis for which an organization grows, represents itself, and finalizes its decision making process. According to Bolman and Deal (2001), leading is giving. “Leadership is an ethic, a gift of oneself. Critical for creating and maintaining excellence is the gift of authorship” (p. 106). Athletic directors who provide authorship to their coaching staff are providing the gift of ethics through their leadership. Ensuring that the coaches have been given the sense of authorship, they will build their team/organization within the parameters of the athletic department’s ethics.

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One example involves a coach being approached by the administration of the school that he/she coaches for to discuss a situation involving a student-athlete on his/her team and the student’s parents. This coach is asked to provide an award to a student-athlete on his/her basketball team in order for the school to reap the benefits of a financial donation. The coach is not sure about what to do with this moral dilemma. He/she asks himself/herself, do I give the award to make the family and school happy or do I make the decision based on the student-athlete performance during the season and his/her ethical beliefs? The coach then approaches his/her athletic director to assist him/her in the decision making process of giving the award to the student-athlete that did not earn it for the profit of the school.

The athletic director provides the coach with authorship of his/her program by evaluating all of the facts involved in this particular situation and provides the coach with his/her ethical leadership. The athletic director informs the coach that not giving the award is definitely appropriate in this situation. However, the school’s administration might show its lack of ethics by approaching the coach with this situation in order to gain financially. The coach makes the decision to not give the award to the student-athlete because he/she did not earn it. The coach’s morals and ethics come into play and were reassured by the athletic director. The decision made was best for the coach, basketball team, and athletic department because it showed the other student-athletes the value of working hard and earning awards in life.

Ethics are always at the forefront of decision making, regardless of the magnitude of the decision, or who is making it. Ethics can cause great frustration in the athletic world, as many organizations and teams struggle to make decisions based on what is good for the whole group as opposed to what the right thing is to do. Most often, these two angles are pitted against one another. Very rarely is there an athletic decision that will be lucrative for the organization but also be perfect ethically and morally. Ethical and moral issues can be different for each leader, considering that there are often no set rules regarding these behaviors. Athletic Directors have moral and ethical obligations to their school community, to the profession, to the board of directors, and to student-athletes. According to Greenfield (1991) it often is not clear what is right or wrong, or what one ought to do, or which perspective is right in moral terms. Greenfield (1991), noted that school leaders face a unique set of ethical demands. Schools are moral institutions, designed to promote social norms, and athletic directors are moral agents who must often make decisions that favor one moral value over another. In addition, Greenfield (1991) substantiated that, although schools are dedicated to the well-being of children, students have virtually no voice in what happens there. For all these reasons, the leader’s conduct must be deliberately moral. An athletic director’s moral duty conveys itself not only in the clear day-to-day ethical quandaries, but also in the routine policies and structures that may have concealed ethical implications. Robert Starratt (1991) noted that every social arrangement benefits some people at the expense of others; simply to assume that schools embody desirable standards is ethically naive, if not culpable. Thus, the athletic director is obligated to create an ethical organization and act responsibly. Many philosophers believe that there is no specific way to create an ethical organization or provide the answers to multifaceted ethical dilemmas. Here are a few ways according to Kidder (1995) and Starratt (1991):

Leaders should have and be willing to act on a definite sense of ethical standards. Starratt (1991) argued that a fully informed ethical consciousness will contain themes: caring (What do our relationships demand of us?); justice (How can we govern ourselves fairly?); and critique (Where do we fall short of our own ideals?).

Leaders can examine dilemmas from different perspectives. Kidder (1995) described three. One is to anticipate the consequences of each choice and attempt to identify who will be affected, and in what ways. Another approach uses moral rules, assuming that the world would be a better place if people always followed certain widely accepted standards (such as telling the truth). A third perspective emphasizes caring, which is similar to the Golden Rule: How would we like to be treated under similar circumstances?

Leaders can often reframe ethical issues. Kidder claimed that many apparent dilemmas are actually trilemmas, offering a third path that avoids the either-or thinking. For example, faced with a parent who objects to a particular homework assignment on religious grounds, a principal may be able to negotiate an alternative assignment, thereby preserving academic integrity without discarding parental rights.

Finally, leaders should have the habit of conscious reflection, wherever it may

lead them.

All of these recommendations for creating an ethical organization should be considered as a small portion of what is needed for a establishing a successful ethical organization.

Job Satisfaction

Spector (1997) argued, “Job satisfaction is a topic of wide interest to both people who work in organizations and people who study them. In fact, it is the most frequently studied variable in organizational behavior research” (p. 1). Additionally, Spector (1997) defined job satisfaction “simply how people feel about their jobs and different aspects of their jobs. It is the extent to which people like (satisfaction) or dislike (dissatisfaction) their jobs” (p. 2). Green (2006) stated that most studies of job satisfaction in education have tended to focus on teachers. Much less attention has been paid to the effects of a stressful environment on the effectiveness of high school coaches and other athletic administrators, particularly those serving in a dual or multi-role capacity. According to Vroom (1967), the concept of job satisfaction has been typically defined as an individual’s attitude about work roles and the relationship to worker motivation.

Herzberg’s job satisfaction study of accountants and engineers is the basis for his theory on job satisfaction/job dissatisfaction (Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959). Herzberg’s theory introduces two factors that involve job satisfaction and dissatisfaction. The two factors were referred to as intrinsic factors called motivators and extrinsic factors named hygienes. Motivators were believed to lead to job satisfaction and hygienes related to job dissatisfaction. Herzberg (1969) stated that motivator factors of job satisfaction include achievement, recognition, the work itself, and the intrinsic interest of the job and hygiene factors of the job include pay, job security, working conditions, policy and administration, and relationships with peers and supervisors. There is not an abundance of data that has indicated a strong relationship between job satisfaction and leadership traits. In this study, the researcher will use leadership traits (transformational, transactional, and situational) as a precursor to show a relationship to Vroom’s (1967) first category because leadership is related to the relationship with people in the workplace.

Transformational, Transactional, and Situational Leadership and Job Satisfaction

In the current study, transformational, transactional, and situational leadership are precursor factors of job satisfaction. In the 1940’s and 1950’s researchers from the Universities of Michigan and Ohio State began researching outcomes of leadership (Yukl, 1989). Bass (1990) argued that follower job satisfaction must be one of the most directly impacted important outcomes of leadership. A number of researchers (e.g., Krug, 2003; McElroy, Morrow, & Rude, 2001) agreed that leader’s role is critical for employee job satisfaction, which continues to have a substantial influence on various organizational outcomes.

According to Armstrong-Doherty (1995) if transformational leadership behaviors are indeed related to job satisfaction and job commitment of subordinates in the sport setting, perhaps sport administrators may be able to motivate subordinates to achieve higher goals and to do more for the organization with fewer resources. The ability of sport administrators to motivate subordinates to perform work beyond the minimum levels specified by the organization is important in sport today in view of the increasing costs of running athletic programs and the declining revenues faced by most athletic departments. Yusof (1998) stated the few studies conducted in sport settings by authors such as Pruijn & Boucher (1995), Wallace & Weese (1995) and Doherty & Danylchuk (1996) have obtained conflicting results and showed little support of the impact of transformational leadership behaviors on subordinates’ outcome such as job satisfaction, commitment or performance. In addition, Yusof (1998) informs us that another study, Doherty and Danylchuck (1996) examined the relationship between coaches’ job satisfaction with the leadership behaviors of athletic directors at several Ontario universities and discovered that coaches’ job satisfaction, perceived leadership effectiveness and extra effort were positively related with transformational leadership behaviors of athletic directors. Additionally, Yusof (1998) argued, “since job satisfaction has been shown to be positively related high subordinates performance, low job turnover, low absenteeism, and higher productivity, athletic directors who are transformational will make a significant difference in terms of their organization’s performance and effectiveness” (p. 173).

Job satisfaction research provides additional support for personal characteristics influencing work and job satisfaction (Bedeian, Farris, & Kacmar 1992; Gibson & Klein, 1970; Kasperson, 1982). Research has supported personal characteristics as predictors of job satisfaction. The personal characteristics that will be addressed by the Multi-Satisfaction Questionnaire are age, gender, and years of experience. Research shows that as we age and become more mature in our lives our job satisfaction increases (Gibson & Klien, 1970; Janson & Martin, 1982). Literature also supports job satisfaction as differing. Some research shows males are more satisfied with their jobs (Varca et al., 1983) and other researchers such as Hodson (1989) and Kelly (1989) reported that females are more satisfied with their job. Lastly, the research supports job satisfaction as having zero relationship to years of experience (Bedeian et al., 1992; O’Rielly & Roberts, 1975).


This chapter was organized with literature promoting the necessity to compare high school athletic director’s leadership traits and job satisfaction. The synthesis of an athletic director’s experience and leadership practices suggests a gap in the literature, which the present study aims to address. We know relatively little about the leadership experiences and practices of high school athletic directors. The purpose of this study is to examine what high school athletic directors view as their leadership traits and job satisfaction in interscholastic athletics. The researcher believes that this research will contribute to a better understanding of leadership traits amongst high school athletic directors and if they correlate to job satisfaction.

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