Higher Education Managers/Executives/Administrators
To learn more about coaches as leaders and to discover the leadership
practices of head football coaches when they achieve their personal best leadership
One hundred and ninety-five NCAA Division I head football coaches
were asked by mail to complete a 47 open-item survey regarding their personal best
leadership experience as a coach. The "Personal Best Leadership Experience" was modified
from the leadership framework and methodology of Kouzes and Posner (1987). Of the
twenty-seven (14%) who responded, the majority had been head coach one to five years
at their present school; fifteen had been an assistant coach for over ten years. Sixteen were Division I-A coaches and eleven were Division I-AA coaches. All responses were content analyzed by the researcher, based upon a coding scheme formed after reviewing the first several returns.
Common practices were evident. Ninety-three percent (N = 25) of the
coaches' personal best leadership experiences involved Challenging the Process or
changing the existing ways of doing things. The need to have a vision and then
communicate it (Inspiring a Shared Vision) was mentioned by 22 of the coaches (81%).
Involving others, empowering assistant coaches and "anyone else they can involve in the
program" was part of the personal best experience of 20 coaches (74%). Modeling the
Way, in the form of leading by example and guiding one's actions by values, was expressed
by all (100%) of the coaches. Finally, 78 percent (N = 21) felt the need to recognize
achievement and celebrate accomplishments (Encouraging the Heart).
Closer examination of the responses suggested that "communicating the vision and
inspiring others to that vision were vitally important for coaches while they achieved their personal best" (32). Russell concludes: "...a competitive edge may be gained by
successfully communicating the vision and inspiring others" (32).