Authentic Leadership in Nonprofit Sport Organization Boards

in Journal of Sport Management
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To learn more about effective leadership of sport organizations, this study explored board member interactions in nonprofit sport boards and specifically the construct of authentic leadership and its impact on board functioning. This somewhat contrasts with the extant research on governance and boards, which has often focused on elements, such as structure, process, and policy. Scholars have often explored the leadership theme within sport at the individual, coach, team, and sport department level. Limited attention has been afforded to studying leadership within the sport governance domain, although the importance of gaining a greater understanding of this area has been noted by both industry and researchers alike. A case study investigation of the Australian Football League exploring authentic leadership in Australian Football League club boards is presented in this paper. Ten Australian Football League clubs took part in the study, and 51 in-depth interviews were conducted with participants (board members) from clubs located across Australia. Interviews were analyzed using an interpretive process, and a thematic structure relating to leadership, board dynamics, and authenticity was developed. Ultimately, three key components of authenticity emerged as highly influential on board effectiveness: relational orientation, self-awareness, and balanced processing. These findings suggest that the nature of relationships between board members, particularly the chair and chief executive officer, is more positively influential on board functionality if characterized by authenticity and likely to lead to higher levels of trust, reduced disharmony, and limiting the formation of harmful subgroups.

Takos, Murray, and O’Boyle are with the University of South Australia Business School, Adelaide, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Ian O’Boyle at Ian.o'boyle@unisa.edu.au.
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