The IRFU Spirit of Rugby Leadership Programme graduation took place on Friday 20th February which celebrated the 35 volunteers and 29 staff who have engaged in the first two years of the programme.
This programme offers training and support to volunteers who wish to shape the future of Irish Rugby. The aim is to support the development of the next generation of leaders who can reinforce the culture of volunteering and collaboration across the game.
The programme began in September 2018, with 16 volunteers from clubs, schools and Branch Committees, participating over four weekends throughout the season. 11 staff were also trained to support the volunteers with their work. Year two brought 19 more volunteers and 18 staff to the course who came together to share their learnings and discuss their next steps.
The evening started with course coordinator Anne Marie Hughes in conversation with mentors from the world of business outlining their leadership journeys and encouraging graduates to take their learnings to other volunteers in their clubs. ESB’s Ellvena Graham, OBE and Aer Lingus’s Dara McMahon focused on the importance of being an authentic leader whatever your role and to being open to learning from mistakes.
An important aspect of the course is the gathering on Friday evenings where speakers from the world of sport and business share their thoughts on leadership styles, relationship building, collaboration and leading under pressure.
Throughout the course, leaders have heard from Olympians, Dame Katherine Grainger (DBE),Chair of UK Sport and Katie Sadlier, General Manager for Women’s Rugby at World Rugby. They have also heard from International coaches and renowned business leaders, who gave insights into the diversity of leadership styles, the importance of understanding yourself as a leader and how to behave under pressure and this sharing of knowledge was a highlight for the volunteers.
The leaders will now form a ‘best-practice’ community and will work with other volunteers and clubs to be the change they want to see.
The Leadership Development Programme consists of four modules focusing on:
- Authentic Leadership Under Pressure
- Leading Teams
- Leading Change
In a busy environment we can lose ourselves in our own problems and forget the benefit of working together. For clubs who regularly compete against each other it is common to forget that we share similar issues.
The Leadership Development programme gives volunteers a chance to share experiences and find site specific solutions in a collaborative environment, while developing their coaching skills in a safe and fun environment.
Key learnings from the course include:
- Enhanced self-awareness of own leadership style.
- Understanding of how to build and manage relationship with others.
- How to flourish in a pressurised environment.
- How to change behaviours to facilitate a more collaborative environment and learn how to effectively challenge existing practices.