Examining athletes' leadership skills development and transfer experiences from sport into business

SELA, Or (2021). Examining athletes' leadership skills development and transfer experiences from sport into business. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00429


This thesis examines the role of sport in offering experiences that enable the development and subsequent application of leadership skills in business focusing on former professional basketball players and business managers in Israel. Transferable skills are general skills that are context and content free (Wiant, 1977). Within the context of sport, transferable skills are those acquired through sport which can be applied in non-sport domains. In recent years, the demand and interest regarding performance excellence principles has grown significantly. Likewise, the demand in the business world for transferring those principles from elite sport has increased. Thus, business organisations are becoming aware of the power of “learning through metaphor” as well as the fact that life skills are universal, regardless of culture and domain (Fletcher, 2011). Some studies have examined this aspect in the context of high school sport (Carson & Gould, 2010; Voelker, Gould, & Crawford, 2011). However, such findings appear limited as participants have only recently left high school and have not had enough time to implement the skills acquired (Kendellen & Camire, 2017). Thus, there is a gap in the literature here for a study such as this one that focuses on participants that have had longer experiences in business and leadership settings post their sporting careers. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 male participants (Mage = 65.0). Participants were engaged in professional basketball careers on both national and international levels. Upon their retirement participants have worked in business and/or are pursuing business careers. This research utilises a six-step deductive thematic analysis using the conceptual model for life skills interventions developed by (Hodge, Danish, & Martin, 2013). Participants discussed how they believe they developed leadership skills during their professional basketball career and subsequently applied in business many of the leadership skills theorised to be associated with the basic psychological needs. Three higher-order themes of autonomy (e.g., self-control), competence (e.g., coping with stress), and relatedness (e.g., consideration of other’s feelings) comprising 14 lower-order themes were generated from the data. The findings advance the understanding of sports as a development setting by offering concrete examples of both development and application of specific leadership skills provided by the same participants. Linking development in sports and application in business in such a manner demonstrates substantial influence sports experiences can have in the lives of business managers long after their playing days are over. The results proved that athletes could learn leadership skills which they can apply throughout their professional business careers. Those skills can play a significant role in their professional success.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Wilson, Robert [0000-0002-9657-7570]
Thesis advisor - Plumley, Dan [0000-0001-7875-0969]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr. Rob Wilson / Supervisor: Dr. Dan Plumley
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00429
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2022 16:02
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2023 14:30
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/30027

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