The second module of the S2A European Course on Sport Administration, organised as part of the EU funded S2A Sport Mobility project, took place from 25th to 29th of October 2021 as a series of five online afternoon sessions.
The second module of this innovative European Course was titled “Effective Leadership” and over 40 participants from Western Balkans and Europe took part to learn from the lecturers and industry guests and develop their knowledge of leadership in sport and principles of effective leadership. Participants took part in a range of learning activities including lectures, group work, panel discussions and guest presentations. The Course Team, again led by Kirstie Simpson from the University of Chester (UK) were pleased with the week and encouraged by many positive comments from participants.
Before giving an overview of each day of the module, it can be useful to summarise the S2A Sport Mobility Project and role of the European Course, as well as some of the results of the evaluation of Module 1 on Successful Strategy.
> S2A Sport Mobility
The S2A Sport Mobility project, with the full title “Enhancing the skills of sport administrators through international learning mobility” is an initiative funded by the European Commission which has the main ambition to enhance the skills of sport administrators working in paid and volunteer roles, to contribute to the capacity building of their sport organisations and the development of the whole sport sector.
The project contributes to meeting the needs of the sport sector to invest in human capital and build capacity in sport organisations. It also promotes transregional cooperation and aims to enhance physical activity and health outcomes through effective sport administrators.
The project to develop the European Course is coordinated by the European Observatoire of Sport and Employment (EOSE) and is made up of a consortium of 8 partners including 3 National Olympic Committees, 3 universities and 2 European sport networks.
> Evaluation of Module 1 “Successful Strategy”
Following the first module participants received an evaluation questionnaire which could be filled in anonymously, to collate their opinions, comments and suggestions. It is pleasing to note that on a scale of 1 to 5 the average rating for module 1 was 4.5. Furthermore, knowledge and skills on strategy were rated before and after the module showing a large increase in level of knowledge and skills reported by participants following the module.
Participants also rated several aspects of the course including delivery, content, timing and group work. The course team took all feedback on board with the aim to improve future modules.
> Module 2 Day 1
Day 1 on module 2 on Effective Leadership began with a recap of content from module 1 on Successful Strategy, as the topics of strategy and leadership are interlinked and rely on each other – strategy is often conceived by leaders. Day 1 set the scene for the week by defining key terms, with one main activity being to clarify the difference between management and leadership. Qualities and characteristics of leaders were also discussed, as well as the components of leadership.
Leadership styles were also covered on day 1, with the group concluding that leadership is different to management, its about the traits of the leader, followers and the situation. Finally leadership is about influence – hopefully a positive influence!
> Module 2 Day 2
Tuesday’s session began with a summary of the make-up of the European sport workforce based on the latest EU sport employment data. Changes to the workforce can impact on leadership especially in areas of equity, inclusion and diversity. Understanding organisational culture and workforce development were also key themes of day 2. The final area of content covered was around the importance of followership including followership styles.
Participants had the privilege on day 2 to welcome Pete Ackerley, CEO of British American Football, as a guest speaker. Pete made an engaging and inspirational contribution through his opening remarks about sport leadership taken from his long experience with several leading federations. Pete also took questions from participants. Purpose, passion and values were themes of Pete’s remarks, and stressed for him the two most important things are culture and people. Culture plus people equals success according to Pete. Participants were very grateful for his contribution.
> Module 2 Day 3
The first part of the session on Wednesday was led by EOSE Skills Development Director Geoff Carroll. Geoff aimed to develop participants so they can explain the competences of a successful leader, understand their own competences and how to develop these further, evaluate leadership requirements of their role and understand how to support and coach others for success. Geoff presented the S2A Occupational Standards for Sport Administration and specifically the standards related to strategy and leadership. Group work developed understanding and skills of participants to use standards for self-improvement and effective job performance.
Day 3 also saw participants welcome Stephen Robson, Course Director from Leeds Beckett University to run a short session on learning styles and as managers, how can we use knowledge of learning styles to help colleagues to develop.
> Module 2 Day 4
Thursday was made up of two lecture sessions plus one industry guest contribution. Firstly participants learnt about the purpose and attributes of a team, furthered by understanding of how to support team members through professional development. Human resources and managing team performance were also covered through a combination of lectures and group work.
For the final session of the day participants were joined by Marijke Fleuren, President of the European Hockey Federation who imparted a wide range of advice and insights taken from her experience of being a senior leader in sport. Marijke also covered aspects related to being a woman in a senior role in European sport.
> Module 2 Day 5
The final day of the week was dedicated to personal development, including assessing own career goals and work objectives. How to develop a personal development plan and how to identify continuing professional development activities to enhance your career were also covered. There was a focus on being “real” and authentic to build trust as a leader. Participants learnt that you can apply management tools such as a personal SWOT analysis to yourself as an individual.
> Cultural exchange
One aim of the course is cultural exchange and mobility which would have featured more heavily if the course had been delivered face to face but as with Module 1 an effort was made to increase awareness of other countries and cultures represented on the course. Participants from Kosovo, North Macedonia and Germany all took a turn during the week to present key information on culture, history, food and sport from their country, and show a short video of beautiful scenery. The participants appreciate this aspect of the course which improves connections and networking.
> Looking ahead
Participants will again be asked to rate and comment on Module 2 including to see how much their knowledge of leadership improved. The third and final module “Adapted Marketing and Communications for Sport” will take place from 29 November to 3 December.
> Final word
Comments from participants are being gathered throughout the course and one of these comments is a good place to conclude this article: “I have made some great connections on the course and want to say what a great job you are all doing to help us learn about other cultures and keep it engaging, as I understand how difficult that can be online”.