In the eye of the public: Examining the content of implicit leadership theories about football managers across two contexts

Birgit Schyns *, Jan Schilling ** and Patrick T. Coyle ***

(*) Centre for Leadership and Effective Organizations, Neoma Business School, Campus Reims, France
(**) University of Applied Administrative Sciences, Hannover, Germany
(***) Department of Business Administration, Lycoming College, USA

We examine the content of implicit leadership theories relating to football managers. While most studies of leadership and sport are interested in direct leadership, we argue here that public figures such as football managers are measured against fan and public expectations. This can contribute to consequences such as selection or dismissal. We compare the contents of implicit leadership theories between two contexts, which differ considerably in the way the sport is structured. This serves to better understand expectations. Using a mixed-method approach and a sample of participants interested in football, the results suggest differences both in the dimensions used to describe football managers and in the frequencies of characteristics within each dimension. For the United States, participants were generally more positive about football managers than the participants from the UK were. Results highlight the importance of looking into the content of ILT and include context to understand expectations better.

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