The under-representation and lack of development opportunities for women leaders in sport has been identified for decades. Despite a variety of efforts to remedy the situation, sport leadership continues to be unbalanced and problematic for women. In 2013, WSLA was created to change this.
We know that women encounter issues and barriers to advance within systems of sport leadership. Crucially however, we do not aim to “fix”, “upskill” or “teach” women. We know that women already have the skills and knowledge to excel. Instead, we challenge our participants to really think about what leadership means to them, what they want to achieve, how they can go about doing it, and provide insight into tackling problematic systems and cultures. WSLA facilitates a personal learning experience, cultivated within a safe, multicultural, diverse, trusting environment, that will impact you in ways you could never anticipate.
WSLA is premised upon four objectives to support the further development of participants. We term these The four Cs: competencies, confidence, context, and commitment.
to support female leaders to enhance their leadership skills and behaviours to navigate the challenges that are part of leading an organisation
to encourage female leaders to identify their strengths, goals and ambitions to support their desired career path; championing who they are and others around them
to understand the organisational and cultural environment, recognising opportunities and challenges, and influencing fellow allies and champions to create positive change
Commitment of employers
to engage with the employers of female leaders and support their ongoing development and wider influence
Our view on leadership
designed and delivered in partnership with
In 2022 WSLA partnered with Leading Edge Performance to design and deliver the residential week. We believe leadership is the root cause of most organisational successes – and failures. From the organisation’s results to the meeting format, the leadership ‘shadow’ is a long one. Leading Edge Performance have observed and listened, coached, and facilitated hundreds of leaders over the past 25 years, and these reflections have defined our point of view on leadership.
The Leading Edge Performance POV on Leadership
At the heart of our leadership point of view is sustainability, while navigating ambiguity. Leading Edge Performance believe successful leaders manage the three inherent tensions of leadership:
Authentic Self | Find Ways to Win | In Service of Others
The difference is brilliant leaders have enhanced skills and behaviours in five aspects:
Clarity of identity – self awareness and self development
Embrace paradox – recognition of and ability to operate in ambiguous and often contradictory landscapes
Trust centred – creates trust led relationships, environments and cultures
Encourages fail fast, learn quick – values innovation and creativity, encourages fresh thinking and removes fear of failure
Sense maker - has a strategic vision and can influence and engage others to join them
Before each residential week, we will ensure that what we deliver is relevant to the group. An insight gathering phase will ensure that we prioritise and focus on the necessary areas that will be impactful to the participant in their role.
We recognise the need to support participants and their organisations to continue to reflect and practice the skills that they have learnt over the WSLA week. Therefore, following the week, we will also be working with participant organisations to offer guidance about the role they can play in helping the participants to continue to grow and develop.
Our commitment to participants
51 women from 24 countries have been financially supported by WSLA to attend our residential week programmes in the UK since 2014. Every year, we do all we can to ensure we continue this important commitment and ensure the diversity of thought and experiences amongst the cohort.
Further, we host a competitive application process for graduates to return as support facilitators on a residential week programme. The graduate benefits from skills development and mentorship with our expert team at Leading Edge Performance.