Undergraduate Honours Theses
The objective of this study was to examine third-party observers’ perceptions of a coach and the leadership qualities that he exhibited when he engaged in different attributions of blame in a high-stakes scenario. When a leader blames himself for a negative outcome, there may be a link to transformational leadership such that the leader is actively caring about the well-being of his followers and putting them first. In contrast, when a leader blames one of his followers for a negative outcome, there may be a link to transactional leadership such that he is putting responsibility on a follower and dealing with an immediate concern (Eberlin & Tatum, 2008). Most of the research regarding leadership styles and blame has been conducted regarding businesses, so the current study aims to extend this research into a sport context by having undergraduate university participants (N = 57) read a scenario about a high school football player and his coach. Both individuals make a number of mistakes that result in the football team’s disqualification from the state playoffs. Individuals either read that the coach blamed the player for the disqualification, or that he blamed himself. Results showed that the coach was seen as more transformational and more competent when engaged in self-blame but was not seen as more transactional when engaged in player-blame. Additionally, results showed that all participants, regardless of condition, attributed the most blame to the player. The findings from the current study can inform best leadership practices in a sport context, as well as provide information on how undergraduate university students perceive effective leadership in relation to attributions of blame.
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