SportWorks TOGETHER: Governance & Leadership – A review

What is the impact of good governance and leadership in the responsibility that sport governing bodies have both to their sport and to the society at large? Should they improve their own methods of governance? These were guiding questions at our recently concluded SportWorks TOGETHER: Governance & Leadership.

With speakers and guest moderators from a wide range of backgrounds and organisations, the event was aimed to bring together leaders and practitioners in the field of governance. Our speakers – James Carr (ASOIF), Gautier Vasseur (Pedersen & Partners) and Luiz Fernando Lima (FIVB) – set the stage for some riveting discussions about the challenges and way ahead for governance in sports organisations.

Transparency and accountability are two key aspects of good governance that saw “substantial improvements” among International Federations, as shared by James Carr, after the Association of International Federations (ASOIF) survey on self-assessment that is distributed across member organisations. And more accountability, as argued during conversations among participants, leads to better governance. For Gautier Vasseur, the focus on shared mission, vision and values of the organisation should be a priority – something that is not necessarily clear for some sport governing bodies. 

The capacity to implement significant changes in the governance culture, however, may vary, depending on the size and scope of the organisation. The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), for instance, was able to make huge effective changes that are impacting the marketing of the sport, leading, for instance, to more fan engagement. However, sports with a smaller footprint often do not have the same capacity.

Therefore, sport governing bodies need to make changes and work on how to apply them across different contexts, regions, and sports. These were points discussed in depth during the conversations participants had after the speakers’ presentations. There was an overwhelming sentiment of how changes and practices differ across cultures and contexts. Some organisations are more flexible, with leaders convinced of the need for change and able to implement them. For other ones, this can prove to be a major challenge – for instance, for some major global organisations, with an already stablished culture where changes can be complex and slow.

Participants, then, brainstormed a series of solutions that are being or could be implemented. Starting from leadership training and education, having more diversity (in terms of race, gender etc.) at the highest levels of leadership in the organisation. It was also raised the need for more evaluation, monitoring and assessment. In that sense, ASOIF’s Self-Assessment tool was lauded by the participants. The consensus was the need for an increased professionalism in governance, what could be also reached if the industry draws from the experience of leaders who come from other industries and exchange with leaders outside their own sport.

If you wish to watch the great discussions of this SportWorks TOGETHER: Governance & Leadership, we invite you to watch the even recording – you only need to register for a video replay here, in case you did not register for the event. You can also participate in our discussion forum to keep the conversation going and connect with other attendees of the event.

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