Leadership in soccer is a growing trend and an essential tool for any coach and staff member managing and dealing with a group of soccer players.

Leadership in football and team management and knowing how to get the best qualities out of a group have been facets that have always characterized the best coaches, especially in those sports in which the number of players is high, as is the case of football. We give you four keys to improve leadership in soccer.

This ability to manage groups and take advantage of a team’s capabilities is perhaps one of the most valued today in sports performance. Regardless of tactical, technical, or theoretical and practical knowledge of the sport in question, the psychology applied to each group of people seems to be the leap in quality that currently differentiates the great coaches. We have clear examples in Guardiola, Zidane, Mouriño, Bielsa, or Simeone, among others. Surely, their emotional and psychological work with each group they work with has set the tone in their way of training.

While it is true that being better prepared at a theoretical and practical level gives us a lot of security, we could consider that many first and second division coaches are more qualified than those mentioned above. Still, if they allow me the license, I think the main difference is how this knowledge is transmitted to the players. How we transmit the message, in the way that we share that knowledge with a group of players, and how we express ourselves at different times sets the trend for how we will carry a group throughout a season.

This component, leadership, is something that today’s teams take very much into account and if not enough to see the constant change of coaches that occurs in the first and second divisions, which does not attend to a good or bad job (I think you cannot evaluate someone’s work in a few weeks or months), but merely attends to the search for an emotional shock or a psychological shock that changes the dynamics within a group.

That is why sports psychology provides us with a lot of knowledge of human behavior that will allow us to improve our team’s sports performance.

In recent years, the differences between a leader and a boss have been studied within the business sphere. Even though football is not such a clear difference between what a leader and a boss are, we can define some aspects that footballers want to have a leader.

We must understand that a leader guides a group towards the achievement of a common goal, seeking to make the most of the individual and group capacities of a human group. This leader does not intend to send or impose ideas, but he marks the path that a group must follow by his experience and knowledge.

What styles of leadership are there?

The following insights are brought together by Bryant Lazaro, the youngest American football coach who gained extensive experience in Spanish La Liga before joining a Norwegian first division side. Having coached some of the highest profile players in Sevilla FC, Bryant Lazaro shares his incredible knowledge on approaching leadership in football. We can divide the leadership styles into the following three:

  1. Authoritarian

The authoritarian leader is the only one who makes decisions about work and organization without the need to justify them at any time. Leaders who apply an authoritarian style have the following characteristics:

  • Total determination of the policies to follow.
  • Determination of the tasks and participants in them.
  • The tendency to be personal in praise and criticism at work, staying away from active group participation.
  1. Democratic

The democratic leader makes decisions after a discussion with the group and willingly takes the participants’ contributions and opinions. Leaders who apply a democratic style have the following characteristics:

  • All policies are matters for group discussion, and the leader assists the decision.
  • The leader designs the general steps towards the objective and, when the team requires assistance, suggest possible alternatives.
  • Members are free to work with whomever they choose, and the division of labor is left to the group’s discretion.
  1. Laissez Faire

The leader who “let’s do” leaves the power in the hands of the participants in the debate (players), limiting himself to providing the necessary means for developing activities. At no time does it judge or evaluate the contributions of the players. Leaders who apply a “letting go” style have the following characteristics:

  • Complete decision-making freedom for the team.
  • The leader provides the material and means necessary for the development of the activity while providing information only when required by the group.
  • It does not try to regulate or regulate anything related to the group at any time.

Although a priori, some of the styles may seem more attractive to us when leading a team, it will be the coach himself, making use of his emotional intelligence (and his leadership skills), who must understand what leadership style applies. The ability to recognize what leadership style to apply is called “Situational Leadership” and is, along with emotional intelligence, one of the great characteristics of a good leader.

To learn more about the importance of leadership and sports psychology in football, we recommend that you continue browsing the different articles to offer detailed information on aspects related to it.