The challenge:

The Women’s Sport Leadership Academy (WSLA) provides unique development opportunities for female leaders in sport, to work alongside their organisations to impact and influence the global sporting landscape.

WSLA runs its annual Residential Week at the University of Chichester and approached Leading Edge to design and deliver engaging and impactful development for 21 WSLA 2022 delegates.

Our focus was creating space for the women to recognise the potential they have, both to bring about change in the sporting landscape and to feel empowered to start a movement that encourages more women into sports leadership.

Data on female leaders in sport globally, gathered through research by Dr Jordan Matthews at the University of Chichester, would play a pivotal role in providing the delegates with powerful insights to enable evidence-based conversations throughout the week, as well as informing how they subsequently work with their organisations to overcome themes highlighted in the research.

Team Coaches Tina Dullaghan and Sarah Wright from Leading Edge facilitated the week-long activities alongside former WSLA programme participants as co-facilitators.

What we delivered:

Our first exercise on belonging set the tone and created a safe environment where everyone could feel comfortable to be themselves. We themed the session around performance coach Owen Eastwood’s Belonging story, bringing to life the importance of capturing what’s good and creating a positive legacy for future generations to build on. This aligned with the amazing opportunity these female leaders have to share positive messages about women in sports within their workplaces and encourage more women into leadership positions.

We explored what belonging does and doesn’t look like before delegates described their experiences of both. This created a reference to check in against during the activities over the week where people’s natural preferences, tensions and leadership behaviours played out.

We brought in vulnerability by asking delegates to give a presentation on themselves (prepared before the week) using a Pecha Kucha method – 10 slides, 10 pictures, no words. Using this approach, which was new to everyone, they presented who they are, revealing themselves to group of people they didn’t know. For some, this was naturally difficult and vulnerability showed. Everyone was encouraged to trust their story and the group asked one curious question and also gave some feedback.

Another bit around vulnerability was asking the group to coach each other, to be really open and honest and give and receive feedback throughout the whole week. Our work on feedback focused on keeping discussions positive and with a curious mindset to learn in an environment that was supportive. Having a safe space to sometimes fail in can be a powerful learning opportunity.

The results achieved:


"From the team at WSLA, an enormous thank you for all the work you did in the planning and delivery of WSLA 2022. It has been a delight to work in such an efficient and committed team.

We are really happy with what you achieved, and, looking over the delegate feedback received so far, so clearly are the women who took part in the Residential Week!”

- Dr Suzanne Everley, Programme Development Lead for WSLA, University of Chichester

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