The Supervisory Behavioural Continuum
An applied approach to develop leadership in athletes
Dr. Larry W. McDaniel, Allen Jackson, M.Ed., and Dr. Laura Gaudet, discuss concepts related to developing leadership skills through measures of practical application.
A basic understanding of the Supervisory Behavioural Continuum (SBC), consisting of specific behaviours, is important in the process of developing skills of effective leadership. The Supervisory Behavioural Continuum has been proven to play a vital role in the decision-making process. SBC is the continuum adapted for use in the educational process of developing leadership in coaches and athletes. SBC includes ten specific behaviours; listening, clarifying, encouraging, reflecting, presenting, problem-solving, negotiating, directing, standardizing, and reinforcing. Each behaviour is clustered into the sub-groups of directives, directive informational, collaborative, and nondirective.
Throughout the coaching process, it has been our intent to encourage leadership by involving athletes in experiences aimed at developing independent thinking and leadership skills. Dr. Larry McDaniel, an Associate Professor at Dakota State University, has developed an array of educational episodes where the use of the Supervisory Behavioural Continuum plays a major role in this instructional process. Through an understanding of specific behaviours within the continuum, Dr. McDaniel discusses methods of supervising athletes and provides examples of different supervisory strategies which will be employed in physical activities and sports settings. After the behaviours, which will be employed throughout the learning session or practice, are introduced and discussed, Dr. McDaniel demonstrates the behaviours specific to the "Supervisory Behaviour Continuum." Demonstrations offer opportunities to incorporate "direct informational supervision" and clarify expectations.
Dr. McDaniel's instructional methodologies are specific to the field of physical education and athletics. His use of supervisory strategies includes direct informational, collaborative, and nondirective supervision thus allowing participation in a variety of different learning experiences followed by different behaviours augmented by feedback. Learning episodes involving physical activity produce a variety of opportunities for student leaders of various physical activities and sports. These novice leaders are given opportunities to interact with groups of athletes at different levels of human development while capitalizing on the use of the SBC to guide participants toward a greater sense of self and the realization that they too have the potential to be leaders.
In the educational leadership settings developed by Dr. McDaniel, students assume the role of instructional leader or coach and are in charge of the participants. Each learning experience involves a focus on developing a safe environment and progresses to encouraging student leaders to engage in specific learning episodes. These student leaders are directed (Direct Informational Supervision) to provide a learning or working climate which minimizes the fear of failure and the fear of injury (mental or physical injury). These novice leaders through "collaborative leadership" become proficient in the four "D's", directing, demonstrating, providing practice drills, and discussing progress. By partaking in the above processes, the student leaders are engaged in the use of the "Supervisory Behavioural Continuum"!
Physical activity and sports skills are presented through demonstrations by the student leader in charge. These demonstrations are accompanied with "directions" and "clarifications" (Direct Informational Supervision) for correct performance. Throughout all of the above activities appropriate feedback (critical cues to perform the skill) was delivered. While participants practice the skill, the student leader moves along the outer perimeter of the activity "observing" and assisting athletes in problem-solving and performing skills correctly. Throughout the practice session, the student leader "reinforces" the desired behaviour and performance of skill patterns. The student leader asks participants questions related to the skill and then "listens" to the answers provided by the participants. This allows the student leader information which may result in quality feedback and encourages and motivates participants to improve performance. These processes assist in training prospective leaders in the processes related to "Withitness Skills" and "Qualitative Analysis".
After the lesson, the student leader "reflects" on not only the performance of the participants but their own leadership performance. This process allows for an objective evaluation of the performance of the student leader. The coach may offer suggestions about how to improve the practice and whether or not pre-determined objectives were realized. Coaches encourage student leaders to offer extrinsic rewards for good behaviour by allowing participants time during the next practice session to become involved in a favourite activity. Dr. McDaniel also provides on occasion, an unsuspected problem, such as one of the participants "faking" an injury or behaviour problem. These activities provide the student's leader's opportunities to manage unexpected events. A typical practice session would consist of other athletes and a student leader as the coach. These sessions provide an outstanding opportunity for student-athletes to develop leadership skills. These activities are videotaped. This allows the coach to use the learning experience as a teaching tool and an opportunity for timely and appropriate feedback. A video, a powerful learning tool for prospective leaders, provides the opportunity for the learners to see themselves as others see them. It is extremely important for athletes as student leaders to have a high level of confidence and readiness to assume leadership roles. Students leaders must realize that the decisions they make may impact another student's life forever. The above processes will provide learning opportunities to grow as reliable individuals who possess the tools necessary to enable them to assume leadership roles within their chosen profession.
With training one can be conscious and competent in the use of the "Supervisory Behavioural Continuum" and employ these strategies in planning various activities. The continuum consists of a number of different supervisory behaviours which play a major role in the decision-making process when interacting with a group. Behaviours such as observing, listening, reflecting, standardizing, and clarifying, with supervising strategies involving collaboration and non-direct supervision to guide prospective leaders. These leaders employ direct, direct informational and collaboration when working with groups of other learners or athletes. Student leader actions include the full spectrum of behaviours identified in the Supervisory Behaviour Continuum. These young leaders are also given freedom to engage in other forms of supervision not identified in the Glickman et al. (2004) continuum.
To be an effective leader, one must have the ability to engage in all aspects of this continuum which gives the coach or leader a method for dealing effectively with everyday issues that may occur within the practice or competition setting and develop workable solutions that contribute to athletic leadership and performance (Block et al. n.d.). Supervisory skills are an essential part of effective instruction and coaching. By providing the coach with knowledge about knowing when and with whom to engage appropriate behaviours included in this continuum. Although one may have a preference or leadership philosophy which indicates a personal inclination to supervision, the supervisory continuum is vital to the overall success of any organization and may be employed in athletics to begin building leadership skills among athletes and novice coaches.
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If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:
- McDANIEL, L. et al. (2008) The Supervisory Behavioural Continuum - An applied approach to develop leadership in athletes [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/article040.htm [Accessed
About the Authors
Larry W. McDaniel Ed.D. is an Associate Professor of Exercise Science at Dakota State University Madison, SD. USA. Dr. McDaniel was a First Team All-American football player (USA Football), a Hall of Fame Athlete, and Hall of Fame Wrestling Coach.
Allen Jackson, M. Ed. is an Assistant Professor of Physical Education and Health at Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska (USA) who is well known for his presentations and publications at international conferences focusing on Leadership, Curriculum, and Health.
Laura Gaudet, Ph.D. is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Counselling, Psychology and Social Work at Chadron State College, Chadron NE. Dr. Gaudet is well known for her publications and presentations at international conferences focusing on various topics in the field of psychology.
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