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‘Multi-directional management’: exploring the challenges of performance in the World Class Programme environment

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Driven by the ever-increasing intensity of Olympic competition and the ‘no compromise – no stone unturned’ requirements frequently addressed by HM Government and its main agency, UK Sport, a change in culture across Olympic team landscapes is a common occurrence. With a focus on process, this paper presents reflections from eight current or recently serving UK Olympic sport Performance Directors on their experiences of creating and disseminating their vision for their sport, a vital initial activity of the change initiative. To facilitate a broad overview of this construct, reflections are structured around the vision’s characteristics and foundations, how it is delivered to key stakeholder groups, how it is influenced by these groups, the qualities required to ensure its longevity and its limitations. Emerging from these perceptions, the creation and maintenance of a shared team vision was portrayed as a highly dynamic task requiring the active management of a number of key internal and external stakeholders. Furthermore, the application of ‘dark’ traits and context-specific expertise were considered critical attributes for the activity’s success. Finally, recent calls for research to elucidate the wider culture optimisation process are reinforced.

Keywords: UK Sport; culture change; dark traits; elite sport; expertise; vision

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Institute for Coaching and Performance, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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