Authors: Luna Ugrenovic, M.S., West Virginia University, Kimberly Shaffer, Ph.D., Barry University, Nataniel Boiangin, Ph.D., Barry University
Luna Ugrenovic, M.S.
478 Harding Avenue Apt. 4
Morgantown, WV, USA, 26505
Luna Ugrenovic is a first-year Ph.D. student at West Virginia University (WVU) studying Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology concurrently with Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She is also a graduate teaching assistant and mental performance consultant trainee working with the WVU DI rowing team as well as WVU law school.
The Relationship between Emotional Intelligence, Leadership Styles, and Burnout in NCAA Coaches
Burnout in coaches has been a concerning issue for many years. It can lead to a host of medical, psychological, emotional and performance-related issues. One of the many factors that correlates with burnout is emotional intelligence (EI; 22). Additionally, research supports various leadership styles that correlate with perceived burnout in different ways (32). The present study aimed to investigate the relationships between EI, leadership styles, and perceived burnout as well as the moderating role of leadership styles on the relationship between EI and perceived burnout in NCAA coaches. The full range leadership model (2) was used in this study and proposes that there are transformational, transactional, and passive-avoidant leadership styles. A total of 244 (n = 140 male, n = 103 female, n = 1 undisclosed) coaches participated from across all three NCAA divisions. Represented sports were field/cross country, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, volleyball, and a variety of others. Consistent with previous research, the results indicated a significant moderate negative relationship between EI and perceived burnout (r = -.38, p = .000) as well as a significant weak negative relationship between transformational leadership style and perceived burnout (r = -.24, p = .000). Additionally, there was a significant weak positive relationship between passive-avoidant leadership style and perceived burnout (r = .25, p = .000). Furthermore, passive-avoidant leadership style showed a negative moderating effect on the relationship between EI and perceived burnout, accounting for 20% of the variance in perceived burnout. This means that passive-avoidant leadership weakened the negative relationship between EI and perceived burnout. Thus, coaches who are predominately passive-avoidant leaders may be more likely to experience burnout symptoms despite their high EI. Consequently, the results underline the importance of developing strong leadership competences as well as EI in NCAA coaches to decrease or even prevent burnout.
Keywords: burnout, emotional intelligence, leadership styles, coaching, NCAA
Perceived burnout has been a topic of interest for a couple of decades, providing plenty of literature across various domains. Despite all the research, it is still prevalent among many professions and occupations, and can negatively affect the personal and professional lives of men and women. Previous research indicates that burnout has negative effects on individuals, causing a significant loss for both organizations and individuals (15). Demerouti and his colleagues defined perceived burnout as an outcome of imbalance between job demands and job resources (6). Literature suggests that burnout can lead to a number of adverse outcomes, ranging from turnover, absenteeism, perceived unproductivity, and diminished performance (8, 30), to mental and physical health-related issues, such as anxiety, depression, lower self-esteem, and substance abuse (3, 18, 20). In addition to standard pressures of work, coaching brings out a unique set of stressors, such as the pressure to win, traveling, and stress from parents of athletes, media, colleagues, administration, injuries, and fans that can magnify the effects of burnout (23, 24, 27). According to the job demands-resources model of burnout (JD-R), burnout consists of two processes: job demands and job resources. In the first process, demanding aspects of work result in continuous overbearing, and eventually to exhaustion. In the second process, a lack of resources makes it hard to meet job demands, which later results in withdrawal behavior and eventually disengagement. In other words, high job demands lead to exhaustion, while low job resources lead to disengagement from work. Together, this represents the syndrome of perceived burnout (6).
Many personal factors affect the levels and impact of perceived burnout. One of these personal factors that helps explain this phenomenon is emotional intelligence (EI). Salovey and Mayer defined EI as the capacity to be aware of one’s own emotions and feelings, to choose among them, as well as to use this information to navigate one’s thinking and decisions (19). It is known that feelings and emotions contribute to the quality of interpersonal relationships (11). Consequently, coaches are expected to develop bonds of trust to enable appropriate functioning within their relationships with athletes, coaching team, athletic administration, etc. (5). Therefore, effective coaches possess qualities that go beyond sport-specific knowledge (5). Four branches of EI (perceiving emotion, integrating emotion in thought, understanding emotion, and managing emotion), from Mayer and Salovey’s ability model (28), are known to be effective skills in developing relationships with different individuals in the coaching workplace (5). Previous research showed that there is a link between burnout and EI, indicating that higher scores on EI were related to lower scores on burnout (13, 29, 31).
Another factor influencing perceived burnout is leadership style (16). Although there is research looking at the relationship between leadership styles and burnout in different positions such as managers, leaders of non-profit organizations, and human service advisors (e.g. 15, 32), research that looked at leadership styles and burnout among coaches is limited. The findings of a few studies are inconsistent, indicating a need to further examine this relationship. A study looking at coaches’ burnout and democratic and autocratic leadership styles failed to find a link between coaches’ burnout and these two leadership styles (12). On the other hand, a study looking at the relationship between burnout in managers and transformational, transactional, and passive-avoidant leadership styles found significant relationships between the variables (32). Hence, exploring the full range leadership model could provide a better understanding of the relationship between burnout and leadership styles, specifically in coaches.
The full range leadership model (2) includes transformational, transactional, and passive-avoidant leadership styles. Broadly speaking, transformational leadership exhibits the ability to transform followers’ thoughts and actions towards higher potential, moral, and ethical standards. On the other hand, transactional leadership style is characterized by transactions that can be constructive or corrective. Lastly, passive-avoidant leadership style is defined as a lack of leadership (2). Existing research on leadership styles and burnout suggests there is a connection between the two (1, 16). For instance, transformational leadership is positively related to personal accomplishment, and negatively related to emotional exhaustion and depersonalization (32). Furthermore, previous research argues that components of EI overlap with the core characteristics of transformational leadership style (10). As discussed previously, very few studies examine the relationship between leadership style and burnout in collegiate coaches, and those that do provide inconsistent findings.
Consequently, the purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between EI and burnout as well as leadership styles and burnout in collegiate coaches. This study also examined whether collegiate coaches’ leadership styles moderated the relationship between EI and perceived burnout (Figure 1). Adding to the pool of knowledge about burnout in college coaches would not only help in dealing with perceived burnout but may also prevent negative consequences such as turnover, absenteeism, perceived productivity, and diminished performance. The proposed hypotheses were as follows:
Hypothesis 1: Collegiate coaches’ emotional intelligence will be associated with lower perceived burnout.
Hypothesis 2: Transformational leadership style will be associated with lower perceived burnout.
Hypothesis 3: Transactional leadership style will be associated will higher perceived burnout.
Hypothesis 4: Passive-avoidant leadership style will be associated with higher perceived burnout.
Hypothesis 5a: Transformational leadership style will moderate the relationship between collegiate coaches’ emotional intelligence and their burnout.
Hypothesis 5b: Transactional leadership style will moderate the relationship between collegiate coaches’ emotional intelligence and their burnout.
Hypothesis 5c: Passive-avoidant leadership style will moderate the relationship between collegiate coaches’ emotional intelligence and their burnout.
Figure 1. The proposed model.
Participants and Procedure
G*Power 3.13 was used to complete a priori power analyses with linear multiple regression to determine the number of participants needed for adequate power. Using a standard alpha level (α = .05), and desired power of .80, a minimum sample size of 89 was recommended to reveal a significant medium effect size (f = .15). The study included coaches from all sports in NCAA divisions I, II, and III that had at least one year of coaching experience.
Participants who met the aforementioned inclusion criteria were recruited via email to participate in the study. Coaches’ emails were found on university web-pages. Research with human participants protocol form was submitted to the institutional review board (IRB) before recruitment and data collection. Prior to completing questionnaires, participants were provided with an informed consent form to read and sign. The consent form informed participants regarding the study’s background information, overall procedures, possible risks and benefits, and confidentiality. Participants were then asked to complete the survey. The questions were randomized to minimize ordering effects. After completing the questionnaires, participants were provided with the debriefing letter. The survey in its entirety took no more than 30 minutes to be completed. The questionnaires were posted online on Qualtrics. A total of 8,520 coaches were emailed to participate.
A demographic questionnaire was administered to attain participants’ gender, age, ethnicity, job title (head vs. assistant coach), sport, NCAA division, years of experience, years of working at the current job, annual household income, marital status, educational level, athletic season, and whether he/she coaches a male or female team.
Emotional Intelligence Scale (EIS; 26) is a 33-item self-report scale assessing one’s ability to detect, evaluate, and control the emotions of oneself and others. The scale was designed based on Salovey and Mayer’s model of EI (25). The EIS measures a total score for emotional intelligence by measuring the following categories of emotional intelligence: appraisal and expression of emotion in the self and others (13 items), regulation of emotion in the self and others (10 items), and utilization of emotions in solving problems (10 items). The example of a scale’s item: “Other people find it easy to confide in me.” The EIS scale items are rated on the 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The coefficient alpha was .87, providing support for high internal validity. It is stated on the EIS that it is available for use for non-commercial research and educational purposes without seeking written permission.
Oldenburg Burnout Inventory (OLBI; 8) is a 16-item self-report scale. OLBI was utilized to measure participants’ perceived burnout. The scale assesses two dimensions of burnout: exhaustion (8 items) and disengagement from work (8 items). The scale is measured on a 4-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree). An example item for exhaustion is “I can tolerate the pressure of my work very well.” An example item for disengagement is “I always find new and interesting aspects in my work.” The Cronbach’s alpha coefficient was .85 for both exhaustion and disengagement. Permission to use the scale was granted by Dr. Karina Mostert.
Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ; 2) Leader Form (5x-Short) version was used to evaluate three different leadership styles (transformational, transactional, and passive-avoidant). The MLQ Leader Form scale measures perceived leadership behaviors. It consists of 45 items measured on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 0 (Not at all) to 4 (Frequently if not always). First, transformational leadership is measured with 20 items. Second, transactional leadership is measured with 8 items. Third, passive-avoidant behavior is measured with 8 items. Lastly, the outcomes of leadership are evaluated with 9 items. Cronbach’s coefficient alphas for the leadership factor scales ranged from .63 to .92. Internal consistency was above .70 for all factor scales. Permission to use the scale was granted after purchasing the MLQ Manual.
SPSS data analysis program 23.0 was used to analyze all of the data in this study. A correlation analysis was conducted to examine the relationship between collegiate coaches’ EI and their perceived burnout, transformational leadership style and perceived burnout, transactional leadership style and perceived burnout, as well as passive-avoidant leadership style and perceived burnout. Additionally, Baron and Kenny’s test for moderation was applied to examine whether each leadership style moderated the relationship between collegiate coaches’ EI and their perceived burnout (4). A moderator is a variable that “affects the direction and/or strength of the relation between an independent or predictor variable and a dependent or criterion variable” (4, p. 1174).
Out of 8,520 recruited coaches, a total of 321 coaches participated, out of which 244 (n = 140 men, n = 103 women, n = 1 undisclosed) fully completed the survey. Participants’ ages ranged from 24 to 74 years and median age was 45 years old (M = 45.07, SD = 11.61). The majority of coaches worked for NCAA D III (n = 117), followed by D II (n = 66), and D I (n = 61). The range of years coaches were employed in their current position was between 0 and 51 years (M = 10.45, SD = 8.90), while overall coaching experience at the NCAA level ranged from two to 51 years (M = 19.95, SD = 36.29). Most coaches were in season at the time they completed the survey (n = 129), followed by off season (n = 93), and preseason (n = 22). Represented sports were track and field/cross country (n = 49), soccer (n = 48), volleyball (n = 46), basketball (n = 32), lacrosse (n = 16), swimming (n = 13), and other (rowing, field hockey, rifle, hockey, rugby, water polo, gymnastics, fencing, bowling, softball, and wrestling) (n = 40). When looking at annual household income, the majority of coaches reported earning between $60, 001 and $100, 000 (n = 77), followed by earning between $100, 001 and $150, 000 (n = 66), between $30, 001 and $60, 000 (n = 53), earning over $150, 001 (n = 33), and less than $30, 000 (n = 1), while 14 coaches choose not to disclose. Of the majority of coaches reported being married coaches (n = 163), followed by single (n = 43), in a relationship (n = 24), divorced (n = 10), and widowed (n = 4). The majority of coaches reported holding a Master’s degree (n = 149), followed by holding a Bachelor’s degree (n = 57), and even a handful had obtained a Doctorate (14 coaches were in the process of getting a Master’s degree, 8 were in the process of getting a Doctorate’s degree, and 1 was in the process of getting a Bachelor’s degree) (n = 15). The sample was not ethnically representative with 219 Caucasian, 7 African-American, 4 Latino, 1 Asian, and 13 undisclosed. However this is representative of the ethnic makeup of NCAA coaches, with over 85% of male and female coaches across the three divisions being of a Caucasian background, according to the 2018 racial and gender report card (17). While there was a mix of both head coaches and assistant coaches, the sample was predominantly head coaches (n = 233, assistant coaches n = 11). Out of the 244 coaches, 93 were a female coach coaching a female team, 81 were a male coach caching a female team, 60 were a male coach coaching a male team, and only 10 were female coaches coaching a male team. Table 1 represents socio-demographic characteristic of participants divided by three NCAA divisions.
Table 1: Socio-demographic Characteristics of Participants
|Male||140 (57.4)||33 (54.1)||37 (56.1)||70 (59.8)|
|Female||103 (42.2)||28 (45.9)||28 (42.4)||47 (40.2)|
|Undisclosed||1 (0.1)||0 (0)||1 (1.5)||0 (0)|
|Family’s Annual Income|
|<$30,000||1 (0.4)||0 (0)||0 (0)||1 (0.9)|
|$30,001 – $ 60,000||53 (21.7)||8 (13.1)||18 (27.3)||27 (23.1)|
|$60, 001 – $ 100, 000||77 (31.6)||17 (27.9)||25 (37.9)||35 (29.9)|
|$100, 001 – 150, 000||66 (27)||17 (27.9)||13 (19.7)||36 (30.8)|
|> $ 150, 001||33 (13.5)||17 (27.9)||5 (7.6)||11 (9.4)|
|Choose not to disclose||14 (5.7)||2 (3.3)||5 (7.6)||7 (6)|
|Single||46 (17.6)||9 (14.8)||15 (22.7)||19 (16.2)|
|In a relationship||24 (9.8)||6 (9.8)||7 (10.6)||11 (9.4)|
|Married||163 (66.8)||42 (68.9)||42 (63.6)||79 (67.5)|
|Divorced||10 (4.1)||3 (4.9)||1 (1.5)||6 (5.1)|
|Widowed||4 (1.6)||1 (1.6)||1 (1.5)||2 (1.7)|
|Highest Educational Level|
|Bachelor’s Degree in progress||1 (0.4)||0 (0)||0 (0)||1 (0.9)|
|Bachelor’s Degree complete||57 (23.4)||25 (41)||13 (19.7)||19 (16.2)|
|Master’s Degree in progress||14 (5.7)||1 (1.6)||2 (3)||11 (9.4)|
|Master’s Degree complete||149 (61.1)||29 (47.5)||45 (68.2)||75 (64.1)|
|Doctorate’s Degree in progress||8 (3.3)||1 (1.6)||3 (4.5)||4 (3.4)|
|Doctorate’s Degree complete||15 (6.1)||5 (8.2)||3 (4.5)||7 (6)|
|African American||7 (2.9)||4 (6.6)||1 (1.5)||2 (1.7)|
|Caucasian||219 (89.8)||51 (83.6)||60 (90.9)||108 (92.3)|
|Latino||4 (1.6)||2 (3.3)||1 (1.5)||1 (0.9)|
|Asian||1 (0.4)||0 (0)||0 (0)||1 (0.9)|
|Choose not to disclose||13 (5.3)||4 (6.6)||4 (6.1)||5 (4.3)|
|Head Coach||233 (95.5)||56 (91.8)||63 (95.5)||114 (97.4)|
|Assistant Coach||11 (4.5)||5 (8.2)||3 (4.5)||3 (2.6)|
|Track and field/cross country||49 (20.1)||11 (18)||15 (22.7)||23 (19.7)|
|Soccer||48 (19.7)||6 (9.8)||17 (25.8)||25 (21.4)|
|Volleyball||46 (18.9)||16 (26.2)||12 (18.2)||18 (15.4)|
|Basketball||32 (13.1)||5 (8.2)||7 (10.6)||20 (17.1)|
|Lacrosse||16 (6.6)||2 (3.3)||3 (4.5)||11 (9.4)|
|Swimming||13 (5.3)||3 (4.9)||6 (9.1)||4 (3.4)|
|Other||40 (16.4)||18 (29.5)||6 (9.1)||16 (13.7)|
|Years of Experience on NCAA Level|
|Years of Being Employed at the Current Job|
|Off season||93 (38.1)||13 (21.3)||24 (36.4)||56 (47.9)|
|Preseason||22 (9)||12 (19.7)||4 (6.1)||6 (5.1)|
|In season||129 (52.9)||36 (59)||38 (57.6)||55 (47)|
|Which of the following best describes you?|
|A male coach, coaching female team||81 (33.2)||23 (37.7)||22 (33.3)||36 (30.8)|
|A male coach, coaching male team||60 (24.6)||10 (16.4)||16 (24.2)||34 (29.1)|
|A female coach, coaching female team||93 (38.1)||25 (41)||24 (36.4)||44 (37.6)|
|A female coach, coaching male team||10 (4.1)||3 (4.9)||4 (6.1)||3 (2.6)|
Note. Other = rowing, field hockey, rifle, hockey, rugby, water polo, gymnastics, fencing, bowling, softball, and wrestling.
¹Which best describes how far into the athletic season your team is?
Descriptive statistics were calculated to assess the skewness and kurtosis of the variables to be used for path analyses. All skewness and kurtosis values were found to be within the acceptable -2 to +2 range for the data to be considered normal, therefore maximum likelihood estimation method was used. Table 2 consists of descriptive statistics for EI, burnout (exhaustion & disengagement), transformational, transactional, and passive-avoidant leadership styles for male and female participants separately, as well as for the entire sample. There were no significant differences between males and females on any of these scales (see Table 2).
Table 2: Descriptive statistics for emotional intelligence, burnout, exhaustion, disengagement transformational, transactional, and passive-avoidant leadership styles.
|Overall (n = 244)|
|Transformational Leadership Style||65.00||100.00||82.69||7.86|
|Transactional Leadership Style||19.00||37.00||27.19||3.71|
|Passive-Avoidant Leadership Style||8.00||24.00||15.12||3.70|
|Male (n = 140)|
|Transformational Leadership Style||65.00||100.00||83.01||8.26|
|Transactional Leadership Style||19.00||37.00||27.57||3.79|
|Passive-Avoidant Leadership Style||8.00||24.00||15.11||3.80|
|Female (n = 103)|
|Transformational Leadership Style||65.00||96.00||82.42||7.16|
|Transactional Leadership Style||19.00||33.00||26.69||3.27|
|Passive-Avoidant Leadership Style||8.00||24.00||15.12||3.58|
Note. Possible ranges for the above measures. EI = 33-165; Burnout = 16-64; Exhaustion = 8-32; Disengagement = 8-32; Transformational = 20-100; Transactional = 8-40; Passive-avoidant = 8-40.
Hypotheses 1, 2, 3, and 4
To test hypotheses 1, 2, 3, and 4, a Pearson correlation coefficient was calculated to explore the relationship between 1) EI and perceived burnout, 2) transformational leadership style and perceived burnout, 3) transactional leadership style and perceived burnout, and 4) passive-avoidant leadership style and perceived burnout. The first, second and fourth hypotheses were supported, while the third was not.
There was a significant moderate negative relationship between EI and perceived burnout (r = -.38, p = .000). There was a significant weak negative relationship between transformational leadership style and perceived burnout (r = -.24, p = .000). The relationship between transactional leadership style and perceived burnout was not statistically significant, while there was a significant weak positive relationship between passive-avoidant leadership style and perceived burnout (r = .25, p = .000). See Table 3 for bivariate correlations between EI, burnout, leadership styles, and demographic variables.
Table 3: Bivariate correlations for emotional intelligence, burnout, leadership styles, and demographic variables
|4 Coaching Experience||–||.39**||-.11||-.14*||-.06||-.01||.43||.07||-.10|
|5 Years employed||–||-.11||-.14*||-.06||-.01||-.08||-.02||-.01|
|9 Emotional Intelligence||–||.57**||.25**||-.34**|
*p < .05. **p < .01.
Hypotheses 5a, 5b, and 5c
To test hypotheses 5a, 5b, and 5c, Baron and Kenny’s test for moderation was applied (4). To avoid potentially problematic high multicollinearity with the interaction term, the variables were centered within the acceptable range. For hypothesis 5a, EI and transformational leadership style were entered in step 1. Transformational leadership style did not account for a significant amount of variance in perceived burnout, R² = .16, F(2, 242) = 22.10, p >.01. Next, in the step 2 the interaction term between EI and transformational leadership style was added to the regression model, which did not account for a significant proportion of the variance in perceived burnout, ΔR² = .00, ΔF(1, 243) = .02, βª = -.13, p > .05. Therefore, the hypothesized moderation was not supported (Table 4).
Table 4: Multiple linear regression with moderator analysis for burnout, emotional intelligence, and transformational leadership style
|2||Emotional Intelligence x
Note. N = 244.
*p < .05, **p < .01
For hypothesis 5b, EI and transactional leadership style were entered in step 1. Transactional leadership style did not account for a significant amount of variance in perceived burnout, R² = .16, F(2, 242) = 23.32, p >.01. Next, in step 2 the interaction term between EI and transactional leadership style was added to the regression model, which also did not account for a significant proportion of the variance in perceived burnout, ΔR² = .00, ΔF(1, 243) = .65, βª = -.75, p > .05. Therefore, the hypothesized moderation was not supported (Table 5).
Table 5: Multiple linear regression with moderator analysis for burnout, emotional intelligence, and transactional leadership style
|2||Emotional Intelligence x
Note. N = 244.
*p < .05, **p < .01
Lastly, for hypothesis 5c, EI and passive-avoidant leadership style were entered in step 1. These variables accounted for a significant amount of variance in perceived burnout, R² = .19, F(2, 242) = 27.45, p < .01. Next, the interaction term between EI and passive-avoidant leadership style was added to the regression model, which accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in perceived burnout, ΔR² = .02, ΔF(1, 243) = 5.65, βª = 1.49, p < .05. The moderation was statistically significant (Table 6).
Table 6: Multiple linear regression with moderator analysis for burnout, emotional intelligence, and passive-avoidant leadership style
|2||Emotional Intelligence x
Note. N = 244.
*p < .05, **p < .01
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
The present study examined relationships between EI, leadership styles, and perceived burnout in NCAA coaches. More specifically, the study looked at the moderating role of leadership styles on perceived burnout in coaches (Figure 1). Results showed that EI was negatively associated with perceived burnout (r = -.38, p = .000). Hence, the first hypothesis was supported, indicating a moderate relationship between EI and perceived burnout. Hypothesis 2 was supported, indicating that there is a significant weak negative relationship between transformational leadership style and perceived burnout (r = -.24, p = .000). On the other hand, hypothesis 3 was not supported, in that the relationship between transactional leadership style and perceived burnout was not statistically significant. Hypothesis 4 was supported, showing a statistically significant weak positive relationship between passive-avoidant leadership style and perceived burnout (r = .25, p = .000). Furthermore, the moderation analyses performed in this study were partially supported. More specifically, passive-avoidant leadership style did have a moderating effect on the relationship between EI and perceived burnout, accounting for 20% of the variance in perceived burnout, whereas transformational and transactional leadership styles did not show a moderating effect. In other words, hypotheses 5a and 5c were not supported, while hypothesis 5c was.
As expected, EI was negatively associated with perceived burnout in college coaches (r = -.38, p = .000). That is, it seems EI has a moderately positive effect on perceived burnout. This suggests that coaches who have difficulty understanding, perceiving, and managing their own and their athletes’ emotions are more likely to experience some of the signs and symptoms of burnout, such as fatigue, depression, stress, and anxiety. Despite the lack of research on the direct relationship between EI and perceived burnout in college coaches, there is evidence supporting the relationship between the two when looking at professions such as teachers, doctors, and counselors (13, 14, 21, 22, 29, 31). More specifically, the current finding is consistent with the previous studies supporting the idea that EI is negatively related to perceived burnout (13, 29, 31).
Consistent with previous literature, the findings indicated a statistically significant negative weak relationship between transformational leadership style and perceived burnout (r = -.24, p = .000). This means coaches who are transformational leaders are less likely to feel burnout. Similarly to coaches with higher EI, these coaches, who are predominantly transformational leaders, are less likely to experience burnout symptoms such as exhaustion and disengagement. Additionally, a statistically significant positive weak relationship between passive-avoidant leadership and perceived burnout was found (r = .25, p = .000). This means that coaches who tend to be more passive-avoidant leaders are more likely to feel burnt-out. Additionally, it is important to mention that coaches who are predominantly passive-avoidant leaders are more likely to have a negative impact on their followers and tend to fail in providing inspiration and direction (28). In line with the current findings, a previous study found a negative relationship between emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, which are factors influencing burnout, as well as a positive relationship between passive-avoidant leadership style and exhaustion as well as depersonalization (32). Zopoatis and Constanti’s findings suggest transformational leaders are not only more effective in their leadership role but are also less likely to experience burnout (32), which supports current findings and underlines the importance of leadership styles when looking into an individual’s as well as a group’s well-being.
On the other hand, the relationship between transactional leadership styles and perceived burnout was negative, but not significant. This indicates that some coaches who are predominately transactional leaders may be less burnt-out. However, the lack of a significant relationship could be due to the characteristic of transactional leadership. A coach who is a transactional leader defines expectations, and performance that achieves these expectations is promoted. With this being said, this kind of leadership style might not be a relevant variable when trying to examine burnout in coaches.
The moderating role of three different leadership styles on the relationship between EI and perceived burnout in coaches was investigated by the fifth hypothesis. There was no evidence for the moderating role of transformational leadership style. Moreover, transactional leadership style also failed to moderate the relationship between EI and perceived burnout. This means that transformational and transactional leadership styles did not act as buffers in the relationship between EI and perceived burnout. This suggests that even if coaches are transformational or transactional leaders, but have a low EI, their transformational or transactional leadership style may not account for their low EI, and they will still have a higher likelihood of becoming burnt-out. This could be since a coach who has poor skills of perceiving, interpreting, understanding, and managing emotions in him/herself or others will probably not be a predominantly transformational or transactional leader. Since transformational leaders are characterized as being able to transform and shape their followers’ perspectives on themselves, opportunities, and challenges (2), EI likely plays an important role in this process by allowing the coach to have a better understanding of how to make these impactful influences. However, this needs further exploration.
On the other hand, passive-avoidant leadership had a negative moderating effect. This means that passive-avoidant leadership weakened the negative relationship between EI and burnout. In other words, a coach who is a passive-avoidant leader may be likely to experience burnout despite his or her high EI. Therefore, future research should further investigate passive-avoidant leadership as it relates to EI and perceived burnout, as to the best of our knowledge, no previous research has been conducted with these three variables.
There are a few limitations to this study. The first limitation is the lack of control over collecting the data due to the use of self-reports administered online. This way of collecting data limits precision and control, including control of the physical environment (9). The second limitation is that the study only looked at NCAA coaches, which limits generalizability to other coaches. Another limitation is a lack of information regarding coaches who may coach more than one team or more than one set of athletes. For instance, some D II and D III coaches could potentially be coaching both male and female teams, as well as different sports at the same time. This question was not asked and could lead to more findings regarding workload and burnout in coaches. This could be an important factor when trying to understand burnout, considering that those who coach more than one team have more athletes to manage, or different sports to focus on at the same time.
Future research may expand upon the conceptualization of coping skills and other factors that influence the relationship between EI and reduced burnout in coaches. Additionally, looking at the same variables (EI, burnout, and leadership styles) in coaches from sports organizations other than NCAA, and then comparing the results may help in understanding burnout better, including the influence that organizational association may exert. Another way in which more understanding of burnout in coaches could be gained is by exploring the amount and type of supporting staff that is available to coaches. Coaches who have more supporting staff may be less prone to burnout, possibly due to reduced demands (one component of burnout). Expanding on current findings, future research should seek to gain more understanding of the moderating role of leadership styles on the relationship between EI and perceived burnout, due to the apparent absence of research looking at transformational, transactional, and passive-avoidant leadership as moderators.
APPLICATIONS IN SPORT
In terms of applied implications in sport, this study offers some promising insights. There are a few ways in which the findings can be used to prevent negative consequences of burnout in coaches and to increase their effectiveness. To avoid the negative consequences of coaches’ burnout, this study showed that it is important to consider improving EI as well as leadership skills. This implies that to decrease the chances of feeling burnout, there should be a more holistic approach when coaching with athletes. In other words, by improving coaches’ ability to interpret and manage theirs and others’ emotions as well as to effectively lead a team, coaches will be less likely to become burnt-out. In the long run, this may allow coaches to create a more productive environment and strengthen the bond between themselves and their athletes. Additionally, coaches may be well-served by predominantly utilizing a transformational leadership style when working with athletes, since this leadership style was shown to have a negative relationship with perceived burnout.
On the other hand, this information can be also useful for athletic directors in the selection of coaches. By hiring the coaches who are demonstrating transformational leadership qualities as well as higher EI, athletic directors might have fewer issues dealing with burnout in coaches and all the negative consequences of burnout, such as turnover and absenteeism. Furthermore, for sport psychology practitioners, the findings suggest that EI and leadership styles are additional aspects to consider when helping coaches prevent or recover from burnout. For instance, one way to prevent or decrease burnout in coaches would be to create preventative burnout programs focusing on developing more effective leadership skills and improving EI.
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