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Eleanor Ower: Calling all future leaders

Today, Sport Wales is launching a brand-new leadership programme for the sector – Leading for the Future. We sat down with People Development Lead Eleanor Ower to find out all about it and how you can apply.

Eleanor, this year’s leadership programme is a little bit different, isn’t it?

Yes, it really is. The last few years have shown us that we might not always know what’s around the corner. Six months out from the national Covid-19 lockdown, a worldwide pandemic was certainly not on our radar but it heavily affected the sports sector. The world has changed in many ways as a result of Covid and we’re still responding and evolving to that.

We’re also now of course facing a Cost of Living crisis which is already having implications on the sector.

That’s why we decided that our leadership programme this year should be Leading for the Future. We’re really going to focus in on the key challenges that face leaders in the sports sector today.

What can delegates expect from the programme?

We will cover key themes which include individualisation leadership, inclusive leadership and sustainability as well as collaboration, disruption and innovation. We’ll also be looking at hybrid workplace leadership and how to ensure your team can thrive while working remotely.

We live in really challenging times so the focus will be on developing leaders that are proactive, collaborative, innovative, agile and resilient. We don’t know what sort of challenges may face us in the future but the programme will equip our future leaders with the skills to lead effectively.

How will delegates benefit from Leading for the Future?

We know from those that have taken part in previous programmes that this type of long-term development is really impactful in terms of career progression. 

But delegates will also benefit immediately, receiving support to solve real-life, leadership challenges from their own organisations. 

Those who earn a spot on the programme will also have access to lifetime mentoring support from our delivery partner, First Ascent, as well as ongoing CPD opportunities. So even when the programme is finished, support to continue your leadership journey is still available.

And probably one of the most crucial elements of the programme, in my mind, is peer support. With up to just 15 places available, participants will find a safe, close-knit network upon which they can call on to help tackle challenges, long after the course has finished. And this kind of cross-collaboration is vital if we are to enable sport in Wales to really thrive.

To really build on the peer network, our ambition is to create a leadership alumni so that we can be supported by each other as we strive to achieve the Vision for Sport in Wales.

How much time will it take to complete?

There are five modules across 10 months and attendance is compulsory:

Module 1 (residential): 7th & 8th February 2023 

Module 2 (online): 28th March 2023 (morning only)

Module 3 (residential): 6th & 7th June 2023 

Module 4 (online): 12th September 2023 (morning only)

Module 5 (in-person): 26th October 

Will delegates have the opportunity to find out about their own leadership style?

Yes! Emergenetics psychometric profiling will be available for anyone who hasn’t recently undertaken this. It helps to reveal patterns of thinking and behaviour as well as strengths and challenges. Some participants may already have completed profiling so we’ll be asking them to bring their report to the sessions.

A 360 report will also help leaders to be self-aware and will help inform how to prioritise development.

Is coaching and mentoring available?

We will be matching an executive coach – with vast experience across a number of sectors – to participants. Coaches will be on hand for three coaching sessions during the programme which is a really important part of Leading for the Future. And even when the programme is completed, there will be unlimited, free lifetime mentoring from First Ascent. If you face difficult work challenges in the future or you need a refresher on certain issues, mentoring will always be on hand. 

All participants will also have lifetime access to regular First Ascent Foundation events. These events include ongoing CPD opportunities and provide opportunities to share experience and learning with other leaders.

How do you apply?

There are up to just 15 places available on the programme. We are keeping it purposefully small and we are looking for those who are 100% committed to the programme and to making a positive difference to sport in Wales.

If you have big ideas and believe you have got what it takes to be a game-changer in Welsh sport, please submit your answers to the application questions (as well as cover sheet) which can either be written (no more than 1000 words total), or via video (max 5 minsby midday on Friday 25th November 2022.

Shortlisted candidates may be required to attend an online one-hour interview on Tuesday 6 or Wednesday 7 December.

If you have any queries about the programme or the application process, please Eleanor Ower, People Development Lead, Sport Wales on