UK Sport Leadership Development: From Rio to Tokyo
March 6, 2017
Last month, Chris and I were lucky enough to work with UK Sport for a few days. These are the people behind the fantastic success of the Team GB athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic games, coming a noble 2nd in the medal table at Rio 2016.
Those of you who know me, know I am a huge sports fan, often drawing links between the commitment, pride and shared goals of sports teams and the workplace. I was completely in my element working with the individuals responsible for getting the rowers, runners, boxers, gymnasts and canoeists ready to peak at Tokyo 2020. It was a refreshing change to work with people who were at the top of their game, but not from the world of business.
UK Sport has the reputation of striving for excellence in every possible way. They put huge value in innovation and are always looking at new creative ways to get stimulated from related worlds. Chris Boardman’s ‘Secret Squirrel Club’, for example, delivered so many cutting-edge innovations to British Cycling that it prompted the frustrated French Team Director to claim that the British had “magic wheels” as he was at a loss as to how they gained so many tenths of seconds.
A report from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers concluded that technological innovation is now essential to sport at the highest level, saying “Technology is as much a part of an athlete's armoury as nutrition, training and coaching.” Take the use of Motion Capture Technology, for example, created for action movies, now being used by athletes to analyse their movements and pinpoint areas for improvement. With innovation and creativity at the fore, we were really excited about sharing some of our latest thinking around how to make more of UK Sport’s creativity fast, human, simple and fun, whilst delivering exciting results.
Here was a select group coming together for the very first time, to embark upon a 12 month UK Sport leadership development program. Our challenge was 3 fold;
- To galvanise the group and turn them into a high performing team, connecting them with fun, shared, positive experiences and establishing a collective set of standards to work by.
- To become more aware of their own ‘personal brands’, how they show up as a leader and how they amplify that when it’s needed.
- To share some techniques and skills to help them be more creative and flexible in how they approach challenges and opportunities.
We designed something very bespoke for the group and absolutely loved the experience. Here’s some lovely feedback from Charlotte Edwards, Sport UK’s Performance Development Director;
"UK Sport’s work with Upping Your Elvis and the Wake Up! programme delivered clarity of thought and opened the groups eyes to notice the positive aspects of their work and lives they weren’t seeing before. It was like a fog lifting. The workshop bonded the group as they started an exciting journey on UK Sports Future Performance Leaders Programme so that they felt supported and engaged, using Elvis’s unique skills. The humour that ran throughout the day made it not only memorable and enjoyable but impactful too. This group have much more energy and inspiration. Win, win!”
We’re all athletes in our own way. If you want to improve your performance, 2 top tips that I gleaned from the team; drink 200ml of water every 20 minutes. 2% dehydration = 20% drop in performance…although you’ll be making more trips to the loo! and eat more walnuts! The human brain is made up of about 60% of what is called "structural fat" and needs high-quality fats like omega-3s to function well and keep the brain fluid and flexible. Walnuts are loaded with omega-3s, which make them the ultimate "brain food".
We hope to be working with UK Sport on similar initiatives going forward and are already getting excited about Tokyo 2020!
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