Written by: Luzuko Ndiko

A lot has been written and spoken about in regards to leadership, yet there is no consensus on the definition of leadership. What has been agreed on across all schools of thought regarding leadership is that influence is at its core. This blog seeks to look at the influence of leadership in the realm of sport and recreation management.

Sport management entails the planning, organizing, leadership and control of the sport industry and all the aspects in it. Although leadership is mentioned as one of the four core elements of sport management, it actually transcends into the other three as well (planning, organizing and control). That is, leadership is necessary in the planning phase, organizing phase and control phase.

There are many myths and theories on leadership such as leaders are born not made or leadership is for men only, or leadership is only for an elite few in the world. The truth is all of us are leaders and practise leadership in many different ways. There are democratic, autocratic and liaises fair leadership models amongst others that we practise daily in our lives for various situations in life.

Leadership has affected sport greatly since the professionalization of the industry. Through leadership, we have seen sport grow as a major contributor to the world economy thus influencing many lives in a positive manner such as providing jobs, creating social cohesion and improving the general population health through physical activities. There have also been some negative impact of sport through leadership such as corruption at the highest levels, that is, international federations caught in fraud cases and bribery, match fixing and state sanctioned doping as well as segregation of women, minority and previously disadvantaged groups.

Many people are in leadership positions yet fail to live up to the ethical standards that true leadership should consider, notice I said “true leadership”. I believe that true leadership is positive and seeks the good of all stakeholders in the industry and not just a select few neglecting others. This includes ethics as a major factor of true leadership coupled with the effective leadership skills required for effective leadership which include, communication skills, visionary abilities, and technical skills to name a few. The most important element of leadership should be servanthood. That is, people who occupy leadership positions must first seek to serve their stakeholders by placing their stakeholder needs and interests before their own personal interests. In doing such, we would not have cases of captains throwing matches at the cost of their team for personal gain. We would’nt have sport federation presidents and leaders accepting bribes at the expense of the sport for personal gain. We wouldn’t have women and disabled athletes being marginalized in the sport industry and lastly we would have more facilities built in rural locations and previously disadvantaged areas.