Can inclusive leadership predict psychological safety in collegiate athletes


Inclusion, the feeling of belonging to a group/team while maintaining a unique identity, has yet to be explored in the context of sport leadership. The concept of inclusive leadership (i.e., a way to describe a leader's ability to foster feelings of belonging and uniqueness in their followers) has been well documented in other domains, such as organizational psychology. Inclusive leader behaviors have been linked to various adaptive outcomes (e.g., team satisfaction, trust) and the perception of psychological safety (i.e., a feeling that individuals can safely take risks on their team). Inclusive leadership may also foster facilitative outcomes in sport teams, but this relationship has yet to be studied. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to examine if inclusive leadership could predict psychological safety in collegiate athletes. Using a cross-sectional study design, a sample of 128 North American collegiate athletes (Mage = 19.9 years, SD = 1.41) completed the Edmondson Psychological Safety scale and an adapted version of the Work Group Inclusion measure as well as other demographic questions. Through hierarchical regression analysis inclusive leadership as well as other variables (i.e., athlete and coach demographics, environmental characteristics) were used to predict psychological safety. The regression model explained 54% of the variance in psychological safety, with the domains of inclusive leadership as the strongest predictors. Consequently, inclusive leadership may be an important construct in sport that deserves future research attention. Applied implications and limitations will be discussed.