Principles of Leadership

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Leadership is a behaviour that influences an individual or group, leading them to reach their goals, ensuring their satisfaction and steering all involved towards success. It is possible to note that all successful teams or individual athletes had strong leaders behind them. It is possible to see a leader inside a team as a captain or a team leader, or others leading them from outside of the field of play like trainers and coaches. Another way of leadership is leading the multidisciplinary staff involved in an individual or group’s development. In this scenario, the Sports Scientists can apply their leadership, managing and delegating the best actions to be followed by the staff, coach or athletes to reach the best performance.


Effective leaders shall have characteristics such as empathy, charisma, experience, vision, ambition, motivation and the understanding of an individual’s needs. In a multidisciplinary environment, it’s essential to find a balance amongst all involved, keeping mutual respect and clear communication between coaches, athletes and health professionals. It is imperative to be constantly working in the care of the client/athlete/team. An effective leader must be able to manage conflicts and egos in favour of the main goal, using only relevant information and being evidence-based. Regarding leadership, there are three different kinds of leadership roles in Sports: Autocratic, Democratic and Laissez-faire

Photo by Alliance Football Club on Unsplash


Photo by Rinke Dohmen on Unsplash  

    1. The Autocratic leader makes most of the decisions without considering the opinion or preferences of the group and usually doesn’t delegate responsibilities. This kind of leadership doesn’t fit well into the multidisciplinary environment when you have different specialists involved. It can, however, be effective in certain situations when quick decisions are needed or when you face a hostile group, and discipline is necessary.
    2. The Democratic leader usually delegates responsibilities and tends to share the decisions among the group. This type of leader develops interpersonal relations, beliefs in sharing tasks between those involved, and creating a unit to work in a common purpose. All of this is very important within a multidisciplinary sports environment.
    3. The Laissez-faire leader takes position to the side, allowing the group to make its own independent decisions. This kind of leadership can result in the loss of group direction depending on the leader’s behaviour. The group members tend to give up easily or be aggressive to each other when negative results or mistakes happen.


The leader’s characteristic will appear according to the needs; the best leader will find the best way to apply his leadership favouring the group’s primary goal. Sometimes he has to act in an autocratic manner. In other situations, the leader will have to assume a democratic posture together with the group and stay aside, letting the group make their own decisions.

Paulo Barroso / Solid Sports