Saying goodbye is hard.
Have you noticed that sport leaders are really good at taking on new challenges, initiating things, and managing by objectives? I think it’s fair to say we are less effective in the art of conscious completion. One of my teachers wrote about conscious completion a while back and it inspired me to write this blog on Finishing Strong.
This blog is about expressing gratitude and pausing to reflect on 15 years of work as I complete my time as the facilitator of the Risk Management Project, an initiative of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. Please note that the Program will continue to be offered and if you are interested in learning more, please contact Liz Muldoon at [email protected].
Turns out that 15 years flies by when you are having fun.
These risk management workshops have taken me from coast to coast, hosting over 100 workshops on behalf of over 60 NSOs and MSOs, impacting well over 1000 sport leaders. The project was written about in research through a partnership with Brock University and has supported enhanced risk management practices among dozens of sport organizations. Participants confirmed that the risk management training increased their confidence to apply the knowledge in their roles, to inspire change at the organizational level, to share among their provincial and territorial partners, and affect systemic enhancements in the sector’s capacity to manage risk according to international leading practice.
Sport leaders walk away with a risk registry, a risk management policy that speaks to their tolerance for risks and expectations on how it will be managed, training materials they can use to educate their Board and Staff, a link to an online resource on how to support clubs in managing risks, and a renewed sense of optimism to tackle the things that are keeping them up at night. During the pandemic, we turned the workshop into a virtual learning environment. We are so proud of being able to continue our work in support of enhancing the risk management efforts of sport leaders.
What I am most proud of is the way we brought risk management to life and melded it with a philosophy of management that creates alignment with values. Written about in my book on Values-in-Action, this way of teaching risk management ensures that participants ask themselves four questions before making a decision:
- What are the risks related to your decision?
- What are the risks if you don’t make this decision?
- How does this decision reflect your organizational values?
- Who needs to know what, by when, how, and why?
When leaders reflect on these questions, they feel more confident in moving forward with their decisions. They pause, connect with others, consider the risks, check-in on their values, and commit to communicate. Risks are reduced or mitigated as a result.
Over the past 15 years, we have accumulated several high to very high-level risks that are shared among sport leaders. Here they are for you to reflect on:
- The mental health of our people (coaches, volunteers, administrators, athletes)
- The toll of the pandemic
- Lack of succession planning
- Lack of financial planning and literacy
- Excessive demands by funders
- Outdated and inconsistent or nonadherence to policies
- Lack of Board training
- Outdated governance systems
- Shifting nature of volunteerism
- Lack of planning to deal with a crisis
- Lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Lack of capacity to deal with safe sport issues
- Excessive and conflicting expectations from stakeholders
- Insufficient investment in leadership and culture
- Misalignment between NSO/ PTSO/ Clubs
- Poor conflict management
As I turn my attention to leadership development projects, expanding my practice in grief and loss literacy, and supporting a management by values orientation, I will forever be grateful for the privilege of having supported sport leaders in enhancing their risk management efforts.
Thank you to the CCES leadership team for pioneering this work as part of their commitment to ensure fair, safe, and open sport. Thank you to our co-founder Rachel Corbett for her early trust in seeding this idea. Thank you to our colleagues LeeAnn Cupidio and Kathy Hare who co-facilitated several risk management workshops with me over the past decade. And finally, thank you to my colleague Jason Robinson who has accepted the invitation to now lead the next iteration of the Risk Management Project. Jason will bring fresh eyes, a strategic mind, and a deep passion for sport that will support the sport organizations in up-leveling their risk management efforts.
Saying goodbye is hard. However, it’s made easier when we pause, reflect on the impact we’ve had, and express gratitude for the gifts that we’ve acquired along the way. For more information or to connect with Dina on any of the topics raised here, please connect with her at [email protected].