Collective Leadership model within Soccer/Football


In sports there are three types of coaching styles, Command, Submissive and Cooperative styles. In my opinion the most used in sports whether professional or youth is command style. Mainly applying drills to mature skills and techniques. There are of course the Submissive and Cooperative styles applied in some youth or professional teams, yet again the most common is Command. As we can see command will be related to giving orders and being in charge, this in my opinion gives very low flexibility for the players to learn on their own and gain experience.

I want to now connect the collective Leadership model with Soccer/Football and how it can be beneficial for us coaches. First, I would like to define Connective leadership and a few of its attributes.  According to Lipman–Blumen (1992), “Connective leadership” derives its label from its character of connecting individuals not only to their own tasks and ego drives, but also to those of the group and community that depends upon the accomplishment of mutual goals. It is leadership that connects individuals to others and others’ goals, using a broad spectrum of behavioral strategies” (Para 2) There are three parent categories which make up the basic pillars for leadership behaviour, direct, relational, and instrumental, and within these categories there are nine styles or specific behaviors. Below are the definitions of the 3 pillars:

  • Direct – Behaviors that take an individual approach with a strong degree of control over goal specification and task coordination.
  • Relational – Focuses on identification with others, individuals, groups, or organizations and behaviors that use these connections to advance goal attainment.
  • Instrumental – focuses on ethical action and attention to politics to accomplish goals.

The image below shows the different attributes within the three pillars mentioned above, in total there are nine. Each pillar below has three of the nine attributes, how does this model benefit soccer/football? As coaches we need to contain one or more of the attributes below. We are educators, whether we admit it or not, and as educators we need to pose a particular attribute. The collective leadership model shows us the framework of the behaviour and attributes and characteristics we need to have to both be successful and bring success to our athletes.

Figure 1.  The connective leadership model (Lipman‐Blumen, 1992)

Depending on the personality traits we have and coaching style, we will have a more dominant attribute and belong to a particular pillar. Nonetheless, if we break up the nine attributes as I call them, we will see that they are effective in coaching sports, in particular soccer. (1)Vicarious will allow us to mentor and guide our athletes, (2)Contributory will allow us to help in situations where we see our athletes requiring assistance, (3)Collaborative joining forces pretty much like any sport have the sense and creating unity, (4)Entrusting, to create a trust and empowerment environment for the athletes to be able to speak their minds with no repercussion, (5)Social creating a network whether it be professional or casual to have a wider circle of connects that can help in some capacity, (6)Personal ability to speak with clarity and get thoughts to the players and motivate them to do their best, (7)Power at some point as coaches we need to be in charge but also in some cases we can give this power to our captains and influential players, for example Man United someone like Cristiano Ronald can be given the attribute to motivate his fellow teammates since he is an influence player, (8)Competitive the ability to have a set goal and competition to outperform other, our players will get bored if the competitions is easy they will not grow nor reach their full potential if they do not get challenge and finally (9)Intrinsic those that excel at a particular task or feature.

What our dominant pillar is, will influence our coaching style. I believe that my dominant pillar will fall into the instrumental pillar, hence I will have some attributes like entrusting and empowering my athletes, which is important in my case to allow the athletes to express themselves and share their thoughts, I will also have an attribute from the Relation pillar which can be Contributory or liking to help out where ever possible this is will allow the athlete to grow and learn. As I mentioned as coaches, we are first and foremost educators, and we need to guide and educate our athletes. Anyone of the nine attributes will have a positive effect in the world of sports, not only soccer, and applied with a coaching style like cooperative will allow, in my opinion, the best growth for both of us: as coaches and our players! The more important thing is to identify this model and know which is our dominant pillar and use our strengths in a positive way to motivate and help guide our players to reach their full potential.


[1] Lipman–Blumen, J. (1996). Connective leadership: Managing in a changing world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[2] Lipman–Blumen, J. (1992). CONNECTIVE LEADERSHIP:Female Leadership Styles in the 2lst-Century Workplace. Sociological Perspectives Copyright 1992 Pacific Sociological Association.

[3] Dugan, J. P. (2017). Leadership theory: Cultivating critical perspectives. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

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