Strategic Management + Good Governance = High Performing Sport Organization

Published April 10, 2012

By Dina Bell-Laroche and Rachel Corbett.

Okay, so Dina and Rachel got to thinking about what it takes for organizations to perform at a high level. Most of us working in sport have a good idea of what athletes and coaches need to be their best – these are our prescriptions for what sport organizations need to excel.

Strategic Management

There is a science and art to managing people in organizations. Managing them strategically means paying attention to the following principles. Keep in mind that your approach needs to be customized to meet your organization’s available resources (time, money and capacity):

  • Have a strategic framework to guide your work. This includes mission, vision, values, strategic priorities, and expected results over a defined period of time.
  • Engage your members at varying levels throughout your planning cycle. People feel like implementing what they have had a hand in creating.
  • Communicate …. strategically. Pay attention to who you are communicating to, what you are telling them, how frequently you are connecting with them, through which medium, and why you are sharing this information with them.
  • Operationalize your strategic framework, paying particular attention to the two year timeframe, and provide staff with guidance on how they can use this information to develop their individual work plans.
  • Develop a performance management strategy that specifies how you will monitor and evaluate your organization’s performance over time, including the performance of your staff and key volunteers.
  • Pay attention to your culture... workplace wellness is a critical aspect of your organization’s health and overall performance.

Good Governance

Good governance is related to strategic management because it is about the systems and structures people use to steer an organization towards its vision. It is also about how volunteers and staff, working in partnership, create a culture that supports and promotes the values of the organization.

Sport Canada has published principles of good governance for the Canadian sport community. At the core of these principles is the imperative of every organization to set and demonstrate high standards of ethical behaviour. These standards must be reflected in all the work of the Board, its committees and the staff of the organization.

Effective governance in sport also means:

  • Having clearly written and understandable governing documents and policies to guide the work of the organization.
  • Being clear about the roles and responsibilities of volunteer and staff resources – Board, committees and staff must work in a partnership with clear expectations and written job duties.
  • A board that is educated about its fiduciary role, committed to working without conflict of interest in a manner that is transparent and accountable for results.
  • Implementing systems and controls that ensure fiscal responsibility and prudent risk management.
  • Having a long-term view of the human resources needs of the organization, and intentionally planning for volunteer and staff succession.


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