An Analysis of Leadership Qualities That Influence Male and Female Athletes in Middle School Interscholastic Team Sports

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine what behavior styles of leadership male and female athletes in middle school interscholastic team sports prefer their coaches use. The study compares those behavior styles of leadership used by coaches on male and female athletes at three different middle schools. The study compares males and females to determine if the preferred behavior styles of leadership are similar.

Results of this study detected a statistically significant difference in the leadership behavior styles by male and female coaches among the middle schools between the following dimensions: (1) democratic behavior and training and instruction, (2) autocratic behavior and training and instruction, (3) social support and training and instruction, (4) positive feedback and democratic behavior, (5) positive feedback and autocratic behavior, (6) positive feedback and social support. The study did detect a statistically significant difference in the behavior styles of leadership used at the different middle schools in the dimensions of autocratic behavior, training and instruction, and positive feedback. This study did not reveal a statistically significant difference between the middle schools in the dimensions of democratic behavior and social support. Finally, the study detected the only statistically significant difference between male and female coaches in middle school interscholastic team sports in the five dimensions of leadership behavior was in training and instruction.

Results of this study indicate that male and female coaches use different leadership behavior styles to deal with male and female athletes in middle school interscholastic team sports. The study reveals that female coaches place more emphasis on the training and instruction behavior style of leadership than male coaches.

This study does not examine which behavior style of leadership is superior for the overall success of an interscholastic middle school athletic program. What follows is the basis for this study, procedures used to conduct the research, an analysis of the data, conclusions, and finally, recommendations for further research on this topic.

Research Questions

This research study entitled An Analysis of Leadership Qualities That Influence Male and Female Athletes in Middle School Interscholastic Team Sports was conducted to answer the following research questions:

  1. Was there a difference in the median scores of the five Leadership Scale of Sports dimensions among eighth grade females in middle school interscholastic team sports?
  2. Was there a difference in the median scores of the five Leadership Scale of Sports dimensions among eighth grade males in middle school interscholastic team sports?
  3. Was there a difference between eighth grade males and eighth grade females who participate in middle school interscholastic team sports in the median scores of the five Leadership Scale of Sports dimensions?
  4. Was there a difference among the three middle schools in the median scores of the five Leadership Scale of Sports dimensions?

Subjects

Subjects for this study were male and female athletes who participated in interscholastic
team sports at their middle schools during their seventh and eighth grade years. The schools selected for this study were three different middle schools from Central Texas which include Bastrop, Cedar Creek, and Elgin middle schools.

Methods

Data for this study was collected using the Leadership Scale of Sports (LSS) questionnaire with the permission of Dr. Packianthan Chelladurai Ph.D at Ohio State University. Athletic coordinators at each school were given verbal directions in person prior to the questionnaires being mailed. The data was analyzed quantitatively using the 15.0 version of Statistical Package for Social Sciences. Several statistical tests were used to analyze the data. The Freidman test is a test used for two-way repeated measures analysis of variance by ranks. This test was used to determine the statistically significant difference based on gender among the three middle schools in at least one of the five dimensions of leadership behavior. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test is a non-parametric statistical hypothesis test used for two related samples or repeated measures on a single sample. In order to determine the location of the difference, a series of Wilcoxon signed-ranks tests using the Bonferroni adjustment to the p-value were administered. Because there are ten comparisons to be measured, 0.05 was divided 10, rendering a new p-value of 0.005 The Kruskal-Wallis test is the non-analog test, an ANOVA; this test was used to compare three or more medians among schools based on gender. In order to determine if there were differences between males and females concerning the median scores on the (LSS), the Mann-Whitney U statistical test was used.

Results

The first research question in this study asked whether there was a difference in the
median scores of the five leadership scale of sports dimensions among eighth grade females in middle school interscholastic team sports. This question can be answered by the results of the Friedman test in Table 1.13, which clearly shows a statistically significant difference among females athletes in at least one of the five leadership scale of sports dimensions of leadership behavior from Bastrop, Cedar Creek, and Elgin middle schools. Based on this data, a series of pair wise comparisons was made to determine where the differences lie by using Wilcoxon signed Rank Test and a Bonferroni adjustment to the p-value. Because ten comparisons were made, 0.05 was divided by by10, to get a new p-value of.005.
The results of the Wilcoxon signed-rank Test in Table 4.13 show a statistically
significant difference at the 0.005 alpha level among the females athletes between
between the following dimensions: (1) democratic behavior and training and instruction, (2) between autocratic behavior and training and instruction, (3) between social support and training and instruction, (4) between positive feedback and democratic behavior, (5) between positive feedback and autocratic behavior, and (6) between positive feedback and social support.
The data in Table 3.13 reveals the first statistically significant difference between the dimensions of democratic behavior and training and instruction among female coaches at the respective middle schools. Female coaches at Bastrop Middle School had a mean score of 3.13 for democratic behavior, and a mean score of 2.1 for training and instruction. Female coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School had a mean score of 2.60 for democratic behavior and a mean score of 2.3 for training and instruction. Female coaches at Elgin Middle School had a mean score of 3.07 for democratic behavior and a mean score of 2.3 for training and instruction. This data clearly shows that female coaches at Bastrop Middle School and Elgin Middle School have a higher regard for the democratic behavior style of leadership compared to the training and instruction style of leadership. Female coaches at Bastrop Middle School ranked the highest in utilizing the democratic behavior style of leadership over training and instruction.

The second statistically significant difference occurred between the dimensions of autocratic behavior and training and instruction. The data in Table 3.13 reveals that female coaches at Bastrop Middle School show a mean score of 2.7 for autocratic behavior and a mean score of 2.1 for training and instruction. Female coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School had a mean score of 2.65 for autocratic behavior and a mean score of 2.3 for training and instruction. Female coaches at Elgin Middle School show a mean score of 3.15 for autocratic behavior and a mean score 2.3 for training and instruction. This data reveals that female coaches at all three middle schools placed a greater emphasis on the autocratic behavior style of leadership compared to training and instruction. Female coaches at Elgin Middle School ranked highest in utilizing the autocratic behavior style of leadership over training and instruction.

The third statistically significant difference occurred between the dimensions of
social support and training and instruction. Table 3.13 reveals that female coaches at Bastrop Middle School had a mean score of 2.88 for social support and a mean score of 2.1 for training and instruction. Female coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School had a mean score of 2.67 for social support and a mean score of 2.3 for training and instruction. Female coaches at Elgin Middle School had a mean score 3.29 for social support and a mean score of 2.3 for training and instruction. This data reveals that female coaches at all three schools have a higher regard for the social support behavior style of leadership compared to training and instruction. Female coaches at Elgin Middle School ranked the highest in utilizing the social support behavior style of leadership compared to training and instruction.

The fourth statistically significant difference occurred between the dimensions of positive feedback and democratic behavior. Table 3.13 reveals that female coaches at Bastrop Middle School have a mean score of 2.06 for positive feedback and a mean score of 3.13 for the democratic behavior style of leadership. Female coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School had a mean score of 2.24 for positive feedback and a mean score of 2.60 for the democratic behavior style of leadership. Female coaches at Elgin Middle School had a mean score of 2.29 for positive feedback and mean score of 3.07 for democratic behavior. The result of this data indicate that female coaches at Bastrop and Elgin middle schools have a higher regard for the democratic behavior style of leadership than positive feedback. Female coaches at Bastrop Middle School showed the highest regard for the democratic behavior style of leadership over positive feedback.

The fifth statistically significant difference occurred between the dimensions of
positive feedback and autocratic behavior. Table 3.13 reveals that female coaches at Bastrop Middle School had a mean score of 2.06 for positive feedback and a mean score of 2.77 for the autocratic behavior style of leadership. Female coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School had a mean score of 2.24 for positive feedback and a mean score of 2.65 for the autocratic behavior style of leadership. Female coaches at Elgin Middle School had a mean score of 2.29 for positive feedback and a mean score of 3.15 for the autocratic behavior style of leadership. This data reveals that female coaches place more emphasis on the autocratic behavior style of leadership compared to positive feedback. Female coaches at Elgin Middle School had the highest regard for using positive feedback over the autocratic behavior style of leadership.

The sixth statistically significant difference occurred between the dimensions of positive feedback and social support. Table 3.13 reveals that female coaches at Bastrop Middle School had a mean score of 2.06 for positive feedback and a mean score of 2.8 for the social support behavior style of leadership. Female coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School had a mean score of 2.24 for positive feedback and a mean score of 2.67 for the social support behavior styles of leadership. Female coaches at Elgin Middle School had a mean score of 2.29 for positive feedback and a mean score of 3.29 for the social support behavior style of leadership. This data reveals that female coaches at the three middle schools have a higher regard for the social support behavior style of leadership compared to positive feedback. Female coaches at Elgin Middle School had the highest score in the social support behavior style of leadership compared to positive feedback.

The second research question of this study asked whether there was a difference in the median scores of the five LSS dimensions among eighth grade males in middle school interscholastic team sports. The results of the Freidman test in Table 5.13 show that among male athletes in the study, there was a statistically significant difference in at least one of the five leadership scale of sports dimensions of leadership behavior. In order to determine the location of the difference, a series of Wilcoxon signed-rank test using the Bonferroni adjustment to the p-value were conducted. Once again, since there were ten comparisons to be measured, 0.05 was divided by 10, rendering a new p-value of 0.005.

The data from the Wilcoxon signed-rank test in Table 8.13 detected a statistically significant difference in leadership styles among male coaches at Bastrop, Cedar Creek, and Elgin middle schools between the following dimensions: (1) between democratic behavior and training and instruction, (2) between the autocratic behavior and training and instruction, (3) between social support and training and instruction, (4) between positive feedback and democratic behavior, (5) between positive feedback and autocratic behavior, and (6) between positive feedback and social support.

The first statistically significant difference between male coaches at the middle schools occurred between the dimensions of democratic behavior and training and instruction. The data in Table 7.13 shows that male coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School had a high mean score of 3.43 for the democratic behavior style of leadership and a mean score of 2.2 for training and instruction. Male coaches at Bastrop Middle School had a mean score of 2.72 for the democratic behavior style of leadership and a mean score of 2.0 for training and instruction. Male coaches at Elgin Middle School had a mean score of 2.95 for democratic behavior and a mean score of 1.6 for training and instruction. The data reveals that the male coaches at three middle schools have a higher regard for the democratic behavior style of leadership than training and instruction. Male coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School showed the highest regard for the democratic behavior style of leadership compared to training and instruction.

The second statistically significant difference occurred between the dimensions of
autocratic behavior and training and instruction. The data in Table 7.13 reveals that male
coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School had a mean score of 3.01 for the dimension of autocratic behavior and a mean score of 2.2 for training and instruction. Male coaches at Elgin Middle School had a mean score of 3.07 for autocratic behavior and a mean score of 1.6 for training and instruction. Male coaches at Bastrop Middle School had a mean score of 2.69 for autocratic behavior and a mean score of 2.0 for training and instruction. The data reveals that male coaches at all three middle schools have a higher regard for the autocratic behavior style of leadership compared to training and instruction. Male coaches at Elgin Middle School ranked highest in utilizing the autocratic behavior style of leadership over training and instruction.

The third statistically significant difference occurred between the dimensions of social support and training and instruction. The data in Table 7.13 reveals that male coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School had the highest regard for the social support leadership style, with a mean score of 3.2, whereas they had a mean score of 2.2 for training and instruction. Male coaches at both Bastrop and Elgin middle schools scored high in the dimension of social support, with means scores of 2.66 and 2.65, respectively. Male coaches at Bastrop Middle School had a mean score of 2.2 for training and instruction and male coaches at Elgin Middle School had a mean score of 1.6. The data reveals that male coaches at the middle schools have a higher regard for the social support behavior style of leadership compared to training and instruction. The data also shows that male coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School have a high regard for the use of the social support behavior style of leadership compared to training and instruction.

The fourth statistically significant difference occurred between the dimensions of positive feedback and democratic behavior. The data in Table 7.13 shows that male coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School had a mean score of 2.26 for positive feedback and a mean score of 3.43 for the democratic behavior style of leadership. Male coaches at Bastrop Middle School had a mean score of 2.0 for positive feedback and a mean score of 2.72 for the democratic behavior style of leadership. Male coaches at Elgin Middle School had a mean score of 1.70 for positive feedback and a mean score of 2.95 for the democratic behavior style of leadership. Male coaches at all three middle schools showed a higher regard for the democratic behavior style of leadership compared to positive feedback.

The fifth statistically significant difference occurred between the dimensions of positive feedback and autocratic behavior. Table 7.13 shows that male coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School had a mean score of 2.26 for positive feedback and a mean score of 3.01 for autocratic behavior style of leadership. Male coaches at Bastrop Middle School had a mean score of 2.01 for positive feedback and a mean score of 2.69 for the autocratic behavior style of leadership. Male coaches at Elgin Middle School had a mean score of 1.70 for positive feedback and a mean score of 3.15 for the autocratic behavior style of leadership. The data reveals that male coaches at the three middle schools have a higher regard for the autocratic behavior style of leadership compared to positive feedback. Male coaches at Elgin Middle School ranked the highest in utilizing the autocratic behavior style of leadership over the positive feedback behavior style of leadership.

The sixth statistically significant difference occurred between the dimensions of positive feedback and social support. The data in Table 7.13 reveals that male coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School had a mean score of 2.26 for positive feedback and a mean score of 3.21 for the social support behavior style of leadership. Male coaches at Bastrop Middle School had a mean score of 2.01 for positive feedback and mean score of 2.66 for social support. Male coaches at Elgin Middle School had a mean score of 1.7 for positive feedback and a mean score of 2.65 for the social support behavior style of leadership. The data indicates that male coaches at the three middle schools place a higher regard on using the social support behavior style of leadership over positive feedback.

The third research question in this study asked whether there was a statistically significant difference between eighth grade males and females in middle school interscholastic sports in the median score of the five leadership scale of sports dimensions. This question was answered using the Mann-Whitney U test to compare the median scores between male and female student athletes and the unpaired t-test. The data in Table 9.13 reveals the only statistically significant difference in means between male and female students was for the training and instruction behavior style of leadership. The difference was not statistically significant for any of the other four dimensions of leadership behavior styles preferred by males and females at any of the three middle schools. The data in Table 10.13 shows a mean score of 1.99 for males, and a mean score of 2.22 for females at Bastrop, Cedar Creek, and Elgin middle schools for the dimension of training and instruction. The data also shows female coaches have a higher regard for the training and instruction behavior style of leadership than male coaches.

The fourth research question asked whether there was a difference among the three
middle schools in the median scores of the five leadership scale of sports dimensions. The data in Table 11.13 reveals the first statistically significant difference occurred within the dimension of autocratic behavior between Bastrop Middle School and Elgin Middle School. The data in Table 12.13 displays the second statistically significant difference within the dimension of training and instruction between Cedar Creek Middle School and Elgin Middle School. The data in table 13.13 detects the third statistically significant difference within the dimension of positive feedback between Cedar Creek Middle School and Elgin Middle School. This difference was determined by the Bonferroni adjustment, which gave a new p-value of 0.017. The data did not reveal a statistical difference for the dimensions of social support and the democratic behavior styles of leadership among the three middle schools.

Discussion and Implications

In answering the first research question, the researcher will discuss the statistically significant differences among female coaches between the following dimensions: (1) democratic behavior and training and instruction, (2) autocratic behavior and training and instruction, (3) social support and training and instruction. Female coaches at all three middle schools did not place much emphasis on the training and instruction behavior style of leadership. Instead more emphasis was placed on the democratic and autocratic behavior styles of leadership. These behavior styles of leadership do not enhance athletic performance or improve athletic ability. The data in Table 2.13 reveals a high mean score of 2.88 for the dimension of democratic behavior among female coaches at the middle schools in this study. The data also shows a high mean score of 2.79 for the dimension of the autocratic behavior style of leadership among the female coaches at the three middle schools in this study. The social support behavior style of leadership had a mean score of 2.87. The data indicates female coaches at the three middle schools use the social support behavior style of leadership in their daily interaction with athletes. The data reveals the training and instruction behavior style of leadership has the lowest mean scores among the female coaches at the three middle schools with a mean of 2.23.

In the dimensions of (4) positive feedback and democratic behavior, (5) positive feedback and autocratic behavior, and (6) positive behavior and social support, female coaches at the three middle schools did not place much emphasis on the positive feedback behavior style of leadership. Instead, they placed more emphasis on the democratic and autocratic behavior styles of leadership. This means the coaches place more emphasis on controlling an athlete, giving them the opportunity to express their opinions, and helping an athlete through problems, than encouraging and reinforcing good behavior in athletes.

In order to discuss the second research question, the researcher will discuss the statistically significant differences among male coaches: (1) democratic behavior and training and instruction, (2) autocratic behavior and training and instruction, (3) social support and training and instruction. According to the data in Table 6.13 male coaches at the three middle schools did not place much emphasis in the training and instruction behavior style of leadership compared to the democratic, autocratic and social support behavior styles of leadership. Male coaches had a mean score of 2.98 for democratic; 2.87 for autocratic and a 1.98 for training and instruction. In the dimensions of (4) positive feedback and democratic behavior, (5) positive feedback and autocratic behavior, (6) positive feedback and social support, male coaches did not place much emphasis in the positive feedback behavior style of leadership compared to democratic behavior, autocratic behavior and social support. As with female coaches, male coaches placed more emphasis on the democratic and autocratic behavior styles of leadership. According to the date more emphasis was placed on controlling an athlete, giving them the opportunity to express their opinions, and helping an athlete through problems, than encouraging and reinforcing good behavior in athletes.

In looking at the third research question, the data in Table 10.13 reveals a statistically significant difference for the dimension of training and instruction between male and female coaches at the three middle schools for this study. Male coaches had a mean score of 1.99, and female coaches had a mean score of 2.22. According to the data, female coaches scored higher than male coaches in utilizing the training and instruction behavior style of leadership in their daily interaction with athletes. Furthermore, female coaches at Cedar Creek and Elgin Middle Schools had a mean score of 2.3. The data shows for training and instruction, male coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School had a mean score of 2.2. This data also reveals that between male and female coaches at Bastrop Middle School, Cedar Creek Middle School, and Elgin Middle School, female and male coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School and female coaches at Elgin Middle School have a high regard for the dimensions of training and instruction behavior style of leadership.

In discussing the fourth research question, the data reveals a statistically significant difference among male and female coaches at the three respective middle schools for this study. The results of the Kruskal-Wallis test show that for autocratic behavior, there was a statistically significant difference between Bastrop and Elgin middle schools. The data reveals that both male and female coaches at Elgin Middle School have a higher regard for the autocratic behavior style of leadership in their daily interaction with their athletes.

The second statistically significant difference among male and female coaches at the middle schools was for the dimension of training and instruction between Cedar Creek and Elgin middle schools. This data reveals the training and instruction behavior style of leadership is the style preferred by male and female coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School. The third statistically significant difference was for the dimension of positive feedback among male and female coaches at Cedar Creek, and Elgin Middle Schools. The data indicates that male and female coaches at Cedar Creek Middle School have a high regard for the positive feedback behavior style of leadership when interacting with their athletes.

Recommendations

The author of this study makes the following recommendations for further research. First, further research is needed on the leadership behavior styles used by coaches in athletics today and the effect these behavior styles have on athletes. Future research should focus on how the various leadership styles contribute to a successful and winning athletic team. The second recommendation is for future researchers to focus the study on male and female athletes who participate in middle school interscholastic athletics and then conduct another study high school interscholastic athletics in the same school district during their senior year to determine if there was a change in their preferred behavior style of leadership. In addition, if there is a change, research should examine the factors behind the change from middle school to high school intercollegiate athletic programs. The third recommendation is to have other researchers conduct the same study at middle school intercollegiate athletic programs in other school districts, and then compare the school districts results to determine if there is difference between school districts. The last recommendation concerns the methodology used in this study. Future studies should allow for participation from all subjects, regardless of whether or not they participated in athletics during their seventh grade year or more then one sport during their eight grade year.

Finally, it is important to note that a factor that contributed to the researcher’s success in this study was having a strong relationship with the head coaches at the middle schools used in the study. This made it very easy to collect the data. The coaches had an interest in this study and were eager to find out the results.

It is the goal of this study that coaches consider the data in this study and use it to improve on the leadership behavior styles they use in their daily interaction with athletes. Researchers should pursue additional studies on this topic and coaches should look into this and similar studies to improve their interaction with athletes in interscholastic middle school athletic programs.

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