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Leadership in the National Football League: Do Leaders Make a Difference?

Leadership Lessons from Compelling Contexts

ISBN: 978-1-78560-942-8, eISBN: 978-1-78560-941-1

Publication date: 3 March 2016


This research systematically analyzed the effect of leadership (coaches and owners) on organizational performance in the National Football League (NFL) during the 1970 through 1992 seasons. In addition, it examined the relation of stable individual differences in personality of NFL leaders with performance outcomes for both coaches and owners. Results revealed that leadership added substantially to the prediction of performance in the NFL, even after controlling for non-leadership variables such as quality of competition and year. Furthermore, one facet of Conscientiousness – Deliberateness – showed strong linear relations with all performance measures. The results of both studies also revealed that hierarchical level of leadership was an important moderator, with coaches having greater impact than owners. The desirability of studying leadership in the context of the NFL was recognized and suggestions were provided on the direction that research might take.




We would like to thank Rosalie Hall, David Day, and Murray Barrick for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the American Psychological Association Convention (August, 2000, Washington, DC).


Lord, R.G., Devlin, S.H., Caldwell, C.O. and Kass, D. (2016), "Leadership in the National Football League: Do Leaders Make a Difference?", Leadership Lessons from Compelling Contexts (Monographs in Leadership and Management, Vol. 8), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 29-66.



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