The world of professional team sport is an incredibly high pressure environment in which competitions, reputations and many millions of pounds can depend on split-second judgements.

As a result, a great premium is placed on getting the best out of what many managers and coaches now refer to as "the collective",  forging a strong bond between a bunch of individuals to make an effective and efficient team with a common athletic objective.

However, given the many different skills required for the various jobs within any team and the personnel entrusted with carrying them out, it is not surprising that no single motivational approach works for everyone.

In fact, managing what happens in the locker room or on the field of play is no different to the issues which surface in any other place of work. It's a consideration which has hit the headlines once again with the publication of an autobiography by the cricketer Kevin Pietersen.

Pietersen, acknowledged as one of the most talented batsmen of his generation, has alleged that there was a bullying culture among the England cricket team, an accusation which, it must be noted, has been rejected by some of his former colleagues identified as being involved.

Leaving aside the specifics, what the episode reminds us of is the fine line between inspiration and intimidation. Even applying the term 'bullying' is subjective. What amounts to excessive behaviour for one person is construed as performance management by another.

The sort of claims made by Pietersen are not unique to his book. Many of us will be familiar with stories of prominent teams who bonded through so-called 'initiation rites' in which shoes were nailed to floors, songs were sung under coercion and drinks were drunk.

Whilst we might think such conduct is historical and relates only to certain sports or certain sides, David Beckham's admission of similar rituals among the ranks of Manchester United's youth teams illustrates that it's more persistent.

It's not only confined to players but coaches too. How many times have we read stories about managers 'losing the dressing room' and being cold-shouldered by those on whom they rely to get results?

Even though team-mates are urged to buy into the team ethic, it is not surprising that some object. It is up to bosses in whatever profession they find themselves to intervene whenever these allegations come to light. They have responsibilities and liabilities as employers.

Should they not, they might, for instance, face claims for constructive dismissal (if someone resigns in response to bullying behaviour and finds inadequate action being taken to deal with the problem), discrimination and even personal injury.

The potential is not merely theoretical. For instance, American football was forced to confront its own bullying scandal at the start of this year, when a player with the Miami Dolphins was hospitalised due to depression which he alleged stemmed from his treatment at the hands of team-mates.

Winning management techniques do not have to be associated with the stern-faced, severe coaches of old. There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that, just like employees in other disciplines, professional athletes produce more confident and successful performances when they are happy.

To use some cricketing jargon, not being on the front foot might do more than damage the pursuit of gold and glory. Unless club owners and governing bodies take proactive measures to address bullying, they might find themselves vicariously liable for the behaviour of the coaches who they employ.