Original Article

Gender Issues

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 1-14

First online:

Follow the Leader: A Relational Demography, Similarity Attraction, and Social Identity Theory of Leadership Approach of a Team’s Performance

  • Janelle E. WellsAffiliated withDepartment of Sport Management, Florida State University Email author 
  • , Thomas J. AicherAffiliated withSchool of Human Services, University of Cincinnati

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While voluminous research exists on managerial successions and the decline of female head coaches, limited research has evaluated the impact of the coach’s gender on a team’s performance. Therefore, this study focused on gendered coaching successions to determine if the gender of the head coach influenced the team’s performance when controlling extraneous variables (e.g., revenues, expenses, and team statistics). Utilizing the theoretical foundations of relational demography (Tsui et al. in Productivity and interpersonal relations in work teams characterized by diversity, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, pp 97–130, 1995) , similar-attraction paradigm (Byrne in The attraction paradigm. Academic Press, New York, 1971) and social identity theory of leadership (SITL; Hogg in Pers Social Psychol Rev 5:184–200, 2001), we hypothesized coaching successions to similar demographic leader-member dyad relationships would positively impact team performance. Data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Equity in Athletic Data Analysis websites were collected on all Division I women’s basketball head coaching successions from 2003 to 2010. Coaching predecessors and successors were coded by gender, win-loss ratios, and performance statistics. Analysis of variance and repeated measures analysis of covariance were used to analyze the data. Results indicated demographic similarities in leader-member dyadic relationships do not advance team performance.


Coaches Leadership similarities Relational demography