The challenge:

Supporting football’s Technical Directors with the many on- and off-field situations they face day to day is what this FA-run programme is all about. A Technical Director role is a varied and dynamic one, so to achieve sustained success in an ever-changing landscape, this group of directors need to be highly skilled and have the expertise to lead positively and drive high performance in their clubs.

The FA Level 5 for Technical Directors Programme spans six modules over 25 individual days, with a typical cohort journey taking 20 months.

Leading Edge are integral to this programme, providing support both in their role as executive coach/mentor for each participant and through delivery/facilitation of sessions within the Leading Self and Leading Others modules.

What we delivered:

Leading Edge Team Coaches Don Barrell, John ‘Fletch’ Fletcher, Sarah Kelleher, Nigel Rothband and Patrick Marr provide executive coaching/mentoring and facilitation to The FA for this programme. They bring a complementary angle that combines sporting and business contexts, ensuring that, through Leading Edge, participants experience a broad view of the world, not just a view through a footballing lens.

This programme supports Technical Directors both with their footballing journey and as leaders within their respective organisations, and a key part of the programme is our role as executive coaches/mentors. We start with a three-way contracting session that brings together the participant, programme tutor and coach. Our coaching relationship moves the participant towards the aims and objectives of their development journey, driven by the focus areas agreed with The FA following their 360-feedback session, and supports the transfer of learning.

Also important in setting participants up for success is developing an awareness of Leading Self, and Leading Edge’s kick-off event on this theme focuses on helping participants to get the most from their dedicated mentors.

Another aspect of our programme support is to design and deliver an influencing skills workshop as part of the Leading Others module. Our Team Coaches facilitate (and enjoy acting in!) role-play sessions placing the participant in a situation where they need to influence the club owner on an issue that has potential for conflict. Participant feedback from these sessions describes just how well the scenarios develop the type of influencing skills that can easily be applied to real-life situations at their clubs.

In 2021, we were delighted to see our involvement with the overall programme evolve, with Leading Edge invited to support The FA with the annual review. For this, we interviewed a cross-section of participants, speakers and tutors, alongside gaining an external view, to pull out key themes as stimulus for a workshop discussion around taking the programme to the next level and maximising the participant journey, particularly how to translate programme learnings into everyday life.

September 2021 saw the second of two cohorts graduate this programme, and a third cohort begins in November.


“My executive coach/mentor (Nigel) has had one of the biggest impacts in my personal and professional life to date and I can’t thank him enough for what he has done for me.

Within 20 minutes, I had discovered that this wasn’t going to be a prescriptive arrangement, where Nigel would tell me the steps I needed to take to get to my final destination. This was going to be a brutally honest friendship designed to open my eyes about the behaviours I inherently do and why this might be holding me back from reaching my true potential.”

Technical Directors Programme Participant – 2020 cohort


“I valued how the executive coaching/mentoring supported the space for self-reflection and transfer of learning.”

Technical Directors Programme Participant – 2020 cohort


“The gold standard is to have shadowing support in their role. This is where the mentoring can add another level of value – real-world learning moments can be supported in the moment.”

External expert view of Technical Directors Programme – Programme Review July 2021

The results achieved:

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