Leadership, Teamwork and Diversity


Organisations require leaders at all levels of the organisation, not just at the top.

A leader is a person who is able to promote and effect significant change within the organisation. Leaders are people who critically examine what goes on around them and look for better ways of doing things. In the field of sport, leaders are people who show a capacity to be ahead of their time, exert positive influences on others in their sport, and who are role models for future generations.

But there are a few questions worth asking however:

What is significant change and how much influence do you have to have before you might be considered a leader?
What about people who were leaders but history has judged them to have negatively influenced people around them?
Can we all be leaders in some way?

There are no easy answers to these questions though!

The ability of people to influence others and effect change may be dependant not only on their human characteristics but also their personal circumstances. Some people may have more advantages of wealth, title, status, job position, education and nationality. However, others who may lack such advantages, may be also be able to demonstrate leadership if only given the chance.

While history tells us that there have many "leaders" who have been enormously destructive to the lives of many, in the context of employment and work, a person is not a great leader if they do not exert a beneficial influence. Furthermore a person who get results but who causes substantial ill-effects in achieving those results is also not considered a good leader. There are plenty of corporate collapses and company executives sitting in prison to attest to that.

What is a definition of leadership?

Packianathan Chelladurai (1999) states that Leadership is a behavioural process aimed at influencing members to work toward achieving the group's goals. Thus the focus is on what the leader does rather than what the leader is. A critical purpose of leadership is to enhance member's productivity and satisfaction. (from Packianathan Chelladurai, Human Resource management in Sport and Recreation, Published by Human Kinetics, 1999)

So leadership is a behaviour.

How about being more precise, what do leaders do?

A study by Yukl (1989) defined eleven (11) categories of behaviour. These categories were:

Teamwork and Diversity

As most people in sport and recreation organisations would realise, teamwork is essential in order to achieve a common goal. Teamwork is not only required in the sporting arena but also within the management committee and at all other levels of the administration of the organisation.

There is nothing more destructive in an organisation than people pulling in different directions, pursuing their own agendas and failing to appreciate the value of teamwork.

The main value of teamwork in the management of an organisation is to blend together people from different backgrounds, with different ideas and different knowledge, skills and abilities.

This diversity among people, under the right leadership, benefits the organisation. However, all too often, it results in intolerance and conflict.

Perhaps, therefore, one of the main principles in organisation management is to appreciate diversity as a strength. If people have contrary ideas, they should be given an opportunity to put their ideas forward, and to be heard. Then, through the collective and democratic decision-making process that should always be resident in an organisation, if their ideas are good they win, and if not they loose.

So teamwork does not mean everyone blindly following the directions of the leader. Teamwork means:


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