Definition of success: to have a plan with a clear message

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

New Leaders getting ready to share their action plans

The city of winds.  Baku, in Azerbaijan is known for its warm winds blowing over the city. The winds were powerful when the participants of the Finnish Olympic Committee's New Leaders Programme landed in Baku. They came to the Azeri capital to take part in the third - and last - workshop of the programme from 19-22 July.

The workshop took place at the same time as the Olympic fire was lit for the European Youth Olympic Festival.  The flames, representing the Olympic values of respect, joy and fair play, have been uniting nations from all around the world and from all backgrounds for decades. Now, sport makes headlines for as many reasons off the field as on it, putting these core values at risk.

Topics of good governance, responsibility and gender equality in sport have raised public attention and made the leaders of sport aware of the need for new leadership tools, based on high ethical standards. Nonetheless, challenges can be turned into opportunities.

The New Leaders Programme has 30 game-changers ready to blow new winds into sports in Europe. At ENGSO, we are very proud to see that five of them work closely with ENGSO Youth: Iva Glibo (CRO) and Ivana Pranjić (AUT) are members of the recently elected ENGSO Youth Committee, whereas Anett Fodor (HUN), Floriane Poncet (FRA) and Laura-Maria Tiidla (EST) are ENGSO Youth Alumni Network members.

Throughout the New Leaders Programme and with the help of their mentors, game-changers have developed an action plan. An action plan with the aim of changing the course of sports to be more equal and ensuring that the future of sports will look bright. A leader with an action plan is like a lighthouse. A leader with tools to communicate their action plan is like a lighthouse with the lights shining on – attracting the full attention and leading the ship to its harbour.

It is not about you – it is about them

The third workshop gave the game-changers a full toolbox for communication. Starting with understanding your audience, the new leaders realised that it is not about you, it is about them. You need to explain your action plan in a way how the audience would like to hear it, rather than forcing the message only from your perspective. As Richard B. Stephenson, the main facilitator of the workshop put it, “understanding your audience is a form of art. Without understanding, you can never succeed in getting your message through.”

In addition, the game-changers learned to write the main messages in a short, clear and concrete way, ensuring that anyone hearing their pitch, presentation or speech will remember them. On top of that the new leaders learned to support their message with strong arguments and evidence.

The game-changers decoded the most difficult code for communication: how to touch emotions. Mandela has famously said "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart.” Therefore, the fundamentals of rhetoric were given, to ensure that the messages from the action plans will be unforgettable.

ENGSO Youth Committee member Ivana Pranjić described her experience in Baku as an "adventurous ride".

"Besides gaining new knowledge not only for our professional career, we were also equipped with new tools for more successful presentation of results and also communication and leadership skills in everyday life. Moreover, we grew stronger as a group and had a great time together. It's amazing to be surrounded and work with so many driven, smart and courageous young new leaders. Big thanks to our organisers and facilitator for their great effort that makes this one of the best courses so far.

Thinking about the New Leaders Forum in November, she added: "In Helsinki we want to convince the leading forces in sport to believe in us, trust us and support us, because only together we can make change happen."

Looking back, the game-changers have traveled a long journey together since the first workshop in Vilnius, form a powerful team sine the second meeting in Dublin and created a fearless group of new leaders, ready to make history.

The workshops might be over; however, the journey has not finished yet. This is only the beginning. The New Leaders Forum in Helsinki, in November 2019 will be the first milestone to reach with the goal to set standards for the new normal. To have an equal culture of sport, it needs leaders who are not afraid to speak up. It needs new players to change the game with new ideas. It takes you and me. It takes all of us.

"The course was the most efficient way and great opportunity to develop my leadership skills, which armed me with the most necessary and useful tools. Now, it is my time to implement my action plan according to the working culture and habits of my country as well as the organisation where I currently work, and the people I work with. The best that everything that we have learnt thanks to the course, is as important and applicable in personal life as it matters in the professional one. However, even if the course unfortunately comes to its end this year, the work is not done yet, there is a lot to do. Firstly, to help to organise the final conference in Helsinki and to create and execute on our action plans in order to make a real change in current sport governance" - summarised her overall experience Anett Fodor.

This article is based on the press release of the Finnish Olympic Committee.

Photo credit: Finnish Olympic Committee

Be part of the journey by following @newleaderseurope on Instagram and on social media following the hashtags:

#NewLeaders | #GameChangers | #LeadtheChange

For more information about the programme, please contact the New Leaders Team of the Finnish Olympic Committee: Niina Toroi, +358 40 672 2220 or visit their website.