Leaders as Catalysts for Meaningful Change

Published June 10, 2021

‘What got us here, won’t get us there.’ That seems to be the prevailing sentiment when I sit down with leaders to figure out how we are going to resolve some of the sticker issues sport is facing. It’s also true that the style of leadership that supported us during the 20th Century is not the leadership style that the next generation of employees respond to. You just have to ask a Millennial or Gen Z and they’ll tell you.

I wrote about femtoring a few months ago and am excited to be leading a panel with 3 of my femtees, Olympians and former national team soccer players Karina LeBlanc, Rhian Wilkinson, and Carmelina Moscato during Conversation 2021. The idea to claim a feminist orientation when being in service of others appealed to me and it turns out, the language is catching on. If it’s true that our words shape our worlds, then paying attention to the language we use to construct our reality is important. 

Everywhere I turn I seem to be hearing people speak about ‘re-imaging what might be possible’. In sport, we describe some of the bigger shifts in two of our blogs that you can read about here. Because we spend time so much time with sport leaders to resolve their issues, we have the privileged position to note patterns and identify trends. Some of what we are noticing is what I want to share in this blog.

Insight 1: Leaders as catalysts – The days of barking out orders and expecting people to tow the line might have worked when the environment was more stable and less complex. There’s a fancy term that is used to describe our current reality – VUCA – or volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Sound familiar?  With the next generation of leaders coming into sport highly educated and with a particular focus on leading with values, they are looking for a leadership orientation that can respond to the environment with a mixture of humility, grit, and hope. Beyond having vision and an appreciation for the system and structure that underpins the sector, we need leaders who also have the capacity to be with ‘uncertainty’ from a place of compassion and trust. I wrote about one such leader last year and if you are looking to be inspired, take a quick peek at this story.

Insight 2:  Moving towards a more inclusive sport system – One of the gifts I’ve witnessed during the past year is the spotlight on equity, diversity, inclusion, and indigeneity. While these topics have been important for decades, it feels like we can no longer avert our gaze. Leaders are looking at their policies through the prism of (EDII). People are asking questions like ‘who’s not here?’ We are being more mindful in how we present images of our sport through a more inclusive lens. We open Zoom sessions with a moment to acknowledge the unseeded territories of where we reside. A more inclusive mindset is what is needed to support sport through some of our more complex situations.

Insight 3: Moving from me to we – I wrote about some of my own lived experience five years ago when I was coaching. You can read about how moving from a competition mindset towards a more collaborative approach is what is needed to support flourishing environments. I am seeing this play out more and more in the boardroom and executive offices where leaders are being invited to work together to solve complex problems. How might we design alliances to support each other while achieving our independent goals? How might we co-create shared values to support safer and more inclusive sport experiences? How might we equip our sport coaches with greater capacity to tap into their emotions to elevate their performance and that of their athletes? You can read about accessing another dimension of leadership here.

Insight 4: Everyone can benefit from a coach: When I become certified as an Integral Master CoachTM in 2014, something shifted. I realized I wanted to give back to the sport by bringing this form of human development to the sector. Since that time, the SLSG has grown to include 3 other Integral CoachesTM and we are actively looking for more to support the growing need. It is our belief that all people can benefit from a certified coach trained in the art and science of leadership and human development. When we combine our knowledge and passion for sport with our skill and compassion of companioning people through their darkest moments, we witness the impact that this form of collaboration can have. We are not executive coaches … we are leadership coaches. You can learn more about Integral CoachingTM here and also the work we did with 8 female hockey coaches here. The work was transformational!

Insight 5: The complexity of our current world is going to require a new way of being in sport. One that invites all of us to lean in, open our hearts, expand our mind, and challenge our assumptions. In order to alleviate the suffering that we are currently witnessing, we must elevate our game. What got us here, won’t get us to where we need to go. As a result, we are working alongside sport leaders to facilitate meaningful change by hosting courageous conversations. We are using psychometric tools like the NOVA Profile to restore health and strengthen relationships. Consider us allies in our collective desire to elevate sport. You can read more about some of the ways we have been working alongside sport leaders as we get ready to return to sport here.

For more information on the range of services we provide and how we can support you in dealing with the tyranny of the immediate or support your desire to flourish, please connect with DBL@sportlaw.ca.

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