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UK Athletics

women in world athletics seminar

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7 April 2014

The second annual Women in World Athletics seminar took place this weekend at Chesford Grange Hotel in Kenilworth. More than 50 officials from over 20 countries attended the seminar, which was hosted by British Athletics and European Athletics.

The seminar began on the Friday evening with an introduction from Sylvia Barlag of European Athletics, who welcomed the delegates and provided an outline of the initiative’s aims.

She said: “Both organisations show their commitment to women in leadership positions in athletics. We want to create a group of women that will sustain itself and grow in a chain reaction.”

Guest speaker Baroness Sue Campbell then took to the stage to talk about leadership and her own journey, including her time as Chair of UK Sport during London 2012.

She spoke of the importance of trust and authenticity in leaders and encouraged all of the delegates to step up to leadership roles by using the metaphor of Mount Everest with the women now at base camp.

Baroness Sue Campbell and Sylvia Barlag of European athletics

Baroness Campbell highlighted the important qualities of leaders as being perseverance, dedication and humility and spoke of the ‘four Rs’ of leadership; resilience, resourcefulness, responsiveness and responsibility.

During her address, Baroness Campbell said: “Leadership is not about being out at the front, it is galvanising individuals to get the best out of them.

“Don’t accept that what has been before is the best way. Everybody leads in different and very distinct ways.”

She told delegates that women have a unique and important emotional responsiveness and closed her speech by insisting that women have a lot to offer and challenged them to be the best leaders they can be.

The following day began with an introduction from Stuart West of the University of Derby, who then presented on profiling the role of an events official. He talked about managing the transition into leadership before moving on to look at leadership theories and techniques, asserting that “the best leaders are those who get the best balance.”

The 50 delegates then split into groups and worked together, guided by mentors, to produce role profiles of an official.

Next on the agenda was a talk from Elena Orlova who did a presentation about the IAAF Moscow Regional Development Centre, which delivers development programmes across the world. Elena explained the work of the Centre, which includes courses for officials and coach education programmes.

The penultimate session of the morning was led by Professor Christine Coupland of Loughborough University, who has previously worked at big companies such as Boots and Rolls Royce, on the topic of women leaders in sport.

Professor Coupland examined the meaning and nature of leadership, outlined different theories and approaches to leadership and questioned why leadership is gendered.

She said: “Leadership is something we do in our everyday lives. Without followers there are no leaders; if you are a good follower then you are probably a good leader as well.”

Her presentation was closed by suggesting that believing a stereotype is the biggest barrier for women and that they should challenge stereotypes through three distinct ‘orders’; the individual order, the interaction order and the institutional order.

Leading into lunch, DVDs produced at the 2013 WIWA seminar were shown to the audience ahead of their chance to produce their own at the end of the weekend.

A guest speaker awaited the delegates on their return as Dr Emma Rosamond, a senior manager in the oil and gas industry as well as a qualified sports coach and official, presented on the topic of her transition into leadership. Dr Rosamond outlined the journey of her career and linked it to the objectives of the WIWA delegates.

The day ended with Stuart West profiling the role of a sports leader and Professor Coupland returning to the stage to talk about career planning and mentoring, a session which included group work.

On the Sunday the WIWA delegates took part in the 11th British Athletics Officials’ Conference (read more about it here) before a grand finale dinner at Coombe Abbey.

The final day of the seminar consisted of the delegates producing job adverts in their groups for specific officials roles, which were then screened to the whole seminar group.

For further information on officiating please visit: http://www.britishathletics.org.uk/competitions/officials/