Women into Sport Coaching Leadership Positions Using Complexity Theory and the Principals of Leverage to Generate Change

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review


This work was based on a piece of work commissioned by UK Coaching. It was primarily focused on doing a comparative study between a variety of non-sport sectors, in order for UK Coaching to try and learn from experiences and best practice in other industry sectors.

The work involved reviewing literature and data from both sport and non-sport working sectors. This was done for comparison and benchmarking, paying attention to identifying the barriers to progression and the various strategies which can be adopted to enable women to progress more easily to leadership positions. The work was further complemented by conducting primary, qualitative interviews of women who have gained senior leadership positions in a variety of non-sport working sectors. Whilst these interviews can in no way be claimed to be representative, what they did offer were insights and the emotional charge to underpin some of the data, often offering provocative and revealing incidents that give ‘colour’ and clarity to the broad data analysed. Finally, additional data was gained from a number of sport practitioners who attended a dissemination workshop event, where the preliminary findings of this work were presented, discussed and contextualised to their own working sectors.

Based on the meta review of both sport and non-sport related literature on women and leadership, complemented by the primary interviews, stakeholder workshop and literature review, a framework of analysis was developed which uses complexity/systems theory, the concept of leverage and stakeholder analysis. Crucially, it is stressed that change can come from many incremental adjustments in practice, by different stakeholders, which may need minimal resources, but which all add up to create more fundamental change. Furthermore, sports capacity for generating emotional engagement and focused moments of interest means it has a powerful resource to create an emotional charge, which, if correctly levered (a critical concept), can act as a key driving force in motivating people to bring about change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWomen in Sport and Exercise Conference 2018
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2018
EventWomen in Sport and Exercise Conference 2018 - Stafford, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Jun 201814 Jun 2018


ConferenceWomen in Sport and Exercise Conference 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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