On to 2022! As this year draws to a close, a collective sigh is rising above the treetops. Finally, this years’ highs, lows and Netflix-binging is over and it’s time to take stock.
The Autumn Budget revealed a few things that are great for the sector. Some real headway has been made in understanding the importance of fitness for the health of the nation. Nationwide, the effects of inactivity have held the country to ransom. HAF funding and investment into schools and wider public facilities show a real opportunity to prove the outcomes the activities sector can have.
Despite this, all that glitters is not gold. As many outcomes as there are, there’s still some way to go to prove that the activities sector can do more. The UK is going through a period of change. The impact of COVID-19 is still ever-present and supply chain issues are still areas that leaders in the activities sector will have to navigate.
What are some of the attributes that an activities sector leader will need in the new year?
To be compassionate
You’ve definitely heard it before. Children have lost out on a lot of the experiences that most adults would have taken for granted in their childhood. The rising issues concerned with mental health and wellbeing received back-to-back news coverage and was felt everywhere.
But we’re not out of the woods yet. Sport in the activities sector has a strong connection with tackling the effects of poor mental health, trauma, PTSD and basically providing some relief to parents. When used proactively it can support children and young people through some really trying times. This can be a key target for maintaining morale in your team.
“What is the insight? We’ve reached 200 children. That’s fantastic, but what have we done for those 200 children?” – Jade Harris, ukactive
To be an inspiration
Inspiration is something we all need. Inspirational leadership can be as simple as motivating your staff out of bed on a cold morning with something to look forward to. Good leadership is an inspiration in itself. It gives your team something to work toward, a drive and energy when things aren’t going to plan.
Fred Turner, Executive Director of Beyond Sport looks at leadership that is larger than his own role. His impact as a leader, particularly in the sport for development sector, comes from his creative collaboration with others. That’s when it can be most authentic.
To take responsibility
Responsibility as a leader is not just leading from the front but from all directions. The point being is that collaboration in your team can be your strength as a leader. Use the advice of your team to make decisions but know that the buck stops with you. Your responsibility is to make those strategic decisions that best suit your situation.
It’s essential for creating the right culture, too. Every decision you make defines the values and the goals of your business. Badu Sports’ CEO, Nana Badu, sees his role as a facilitator in the activities sector. Those in his team and the community he works for are those he works toward empowering, so they can take ownership and rewrite their own narratives.
“Having an open mentality is key, if you see something and you don’t know if it fits, just go for it and give it a try.” – Olivia Eastwood-Gray, Badu Sports
To be an excellent communicator
There are lots of bosses out there who believe that communication starts and stops with yelling at anyone who crosses their path. They create toxic work environments where people are tired, over-worked, or pushed to meet impossible targets with no reward. Their turnover is high and the worst of all, their staff stop believing in their purpose.
It’s so important for your team to be on board with providing safe and engaging environments for children and young people. Activities leaders, especially those who are on-site with children and young people need to be able to pick up on both verbal and non-verbal cues. Many of the impacts of COVID-19, difficulties with employment and even bereavement are subject to all these cues and now, are more significant than ever for adults and children.
Excellent communicators are those that can simplify those complex problems that they’re faced with. For Emily Cherry, Executive Director at Bikeability, being a leader is often about who you surround yourself with. Seeking out those who don’t think like you, such as mentors, friends and advisors can act as sounding boards to help you clarify your message.
To have humility
Let’s say you’re considering opening a learning centre. You’ve always wanted to take the business in this direction, and you’ve got your idea sorted. Coaching centre. You begin your research. What have you done wrong? You’ve forgotten that you have a team, customers and stakeholders and your research should have started with them.
It can’t always be about you. Having a clear vision should be part of the contributions that your team make. Sometimes it’s best to lead by example, and let others take the floor. When your team feel as though they have your trust, that’s when you’ll have the input you need to grow. Now your coaching learning centre is one that has a double focus on marketing & IT because it fits a need in your area!
“Everything that we do has got to be an opportunity for somebody.” – Pat Hawkins, UKCA