How Sport England's new values shaped the development of the Sports Governance Academy

Date: 24 February 2020

Author: Phil Smith, Director of Sport at Sport England

At Sport England, we recently launched our new corporate values: ambitious, collaborative, inclusive and innovative.  Unlike most corporate values, which we all know have the potential to sit on a shelf or on a poster somewhere and never get used, these values really embody the way we are working, our behaviours and our general approach to working with organisations in the sport and physical activity sector. We are working with organisations in a collaborative way to help them achieve their objectives. We recognise that for our sector to be successful we need to support and help organisations to be successful, and this involves being a source of support and a place to go for advice and resources.

We understand that the success of an organisation is dependent on having the right structures and decision-making processes in place, but that this is not enough. Success also requires us to have the right people leading and operating within those organisational structures. Only with the right systems, processes, structures and people, will an organisation be successful.  And so, the worlds of governance and leadership collide, and our task is to identify the role Sport England can play to assist and help the sector be successful.

Our challenge is to help ensure we do everything we can to make our sector successful, and this goes beyond being a funder. We need to provide the tools and assistance to enable any sport and physical activity organisation to put the right structures and the right people in place for their individual organisations. Individual organisational success repeated across the sector leads to a successful sector.

The Sports Governance Academy is a new initiative which I am extremely proud to be driving forward on behalf of the sector, and one which is borne out of our deep sense of who we are at Sport England and the role and responsibility we have to support the sector. Whilst it is an initiative we are funding, one of the key elements for me is that it is powered by the sector to meet the diverse needs of an audience that includes governance professionals, those with governance responsibilities as part of their role, chief executives, board members and everyone who has an interest in improving the way their organisation operates. Along with our partner, The Chartered Governance Institute, we are working in collaboration with the sector to challenge and support each other as we grapple with challenges and evolve our thinking on what makes an organisation successful and how we can be better at what we do. The resources, courses and services being provided by the Sports Governance Academy have people from across the sector helping to design and create them, so they meet the needs of the sector and help with real rather than perceived issues.

The Sports Governance Academy brings together everyone in the sector to focus on how to run effective organisations. For me this is exciting… if we can crack this, then our sector can really excel in terms of what it achieves. The impossible becomes possible, the unachievable becomes achievable and suddenly we become an example to other sectors on how to run successful organisations.

The Sports Governance Academy represents so much more than a set of resources, workshops or learning opportunities for people who are interested in governance. It recognises the value of people and the role they play in making our sector successful. It recognises that people are what makes organisations successful. The knowledge, skills, experience and behaviours of the people in an organisation shape the success of that organisation. The Sports Governance Academy provides a platform for supporting, developing and connecting the people who work with and have an interest in improving the way their organisation operates and ultimately one that will help us all improve the way our sector works.

We are excited to have the chance to work with our sector on creating something very unique with this initiative. I personally cannot wait to see how it evolves based on what the sector and our people need from it. Do get involved and make this yours. Let’s own and drive our future together.