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The Women's Sport Leadership Academy

WSLA provides unique development opportunities for women leaders from around the world to step up, take the lead and make an impact

WSLA is a programme of the Anita White Foundation (AWF) at the University of Chichester, developed and delivered by the AWF, Females Achieving Brilliance (FAB) and the University of Hertfordshire

The under-representation and lack of development opportunities for women leaders in sport has been identified for decades. Despite a variety of efforts to remedy the situation, sport leadership continues to be male- and masculine-dominated. In 2013, WSLA was created to change this. 

Our vision, philosophy 

and objectives

Our vision is to empower women to be great leaders and our leadership philosophy can be summarised in this simple model

Who you are and what you stand for

How you communicate

What impact you have on others


The WSLA leadership philosophy

There are two key objectives for WSLA programmes that support the further development of participants in the following:


  • Leadership competencies – supporting female leaders to further develop their leadership competencies or behaviours, consolidate their own leadership style, empower them to be who they want to be and navigate the challenges that are part of leading an organisation

  • Confidence – encouraging female leaders to identify their strengths, pursue goals, take opportunities and progress their career path. They will be confident to champion themselves and others going forward

Specifically, WSLA 2020 will also support the participants to:

  • Be aware of their impact on other

  • Be able to communicate more effectively

  • Develop greater self-awareness

  • Produce a Personal Development Plan with clear goals

  • Develop career strategies

  • Participate in regular networking

  • Improve intercultural understanding

  • Gain better knowledge and understanding of the global women and sport movement and the relevance to them

  • Acquire access to the international WSLA Alumni network and extended their own network

Our leadership competency framework

We provide a unique learning environment that supports each participant to further develop their leadership behaviours that research has shown to be critical to becoming an outstanding leader.

What we know is the performance often changes when under pressure so the focus at WSLA is on the main behaviours to develop in three areas of focus and always with the overriding issue of a leader’s performance in a pressured environment.

Drives self

Executes effectively



The WSLA leadership philosophy

For each area of focus we have identified some critical behaviour as follows:

Drives self
For example – awareness of own behaviour on others; how to reflect on own performance; managing own wellbeing; embracing uncomfortable situations; seeks out learning opportunities; how to be resilient; accepting challenging feedback.


Develops excellence
For example – has a clear leadership philosophy; is a role model with leadership behaviour; applies principles of coaching to help others develop; translates strategic direction into effective plans; makes tough decisions; develops a high-performing culture; empowers others to operate at their best.


Executes effectively
For example – builds strategic relationships; connects with a range of networks; brings people with complementary skills together; consults with widely varied audience; leads meaningful communication to share vision; expresses thoughts, feeling and ideas in a clear succinct and compelling manner.