This week True Sport and the Canadian Centre for Ethics and Sport (CCES) hosted “The Values Proposition: Strengthening Sport in Canada” #ValuesinSport.  A summit forum to share the findings of a cross country tour through five cities discussing with Canadians the need to move towards value based sports.  Appropriately timed as yesterday was World Values Day. #WorldValuesDay

The message came through loud and clear.  It is time to stop talking (or yelling ?) and act.  Paul Melia, CEO of CCES laid the foundation by calling it out, that “Integrity in sport is under attack, and the foundation is cracked”.  Doping, violence (concussions), harassment and abuse, with parent behaviour being right up there.  Weak sport governance, lack of access, and match manipulation was also sighted in the research conducted by True Sport.  A bit of a dark cloud for sport over all.

Mr. Melia conveyed from their findings that 92% believe that sport can do great things for Canadians, however only 20% believe that sport is delivering. Yikes!

But don’t despair.  There was a powerhouse of attendees at the highest level who are taking this issue seriously.  Own the Podium @ownthepodium CEO, Anne Merklinger, started off by stating that just 8 months ago, they had changed their mission statement.  Although this may not seem like a big deal it is!  The previous mission statement was anchored around a target, with a goal of helping Canadians achieve dominance at future Olympic Games.  In other words, it is the number of medals Canada can acquire that counts. That’s it.

I immediately flash back to my days in sales and sales training, when our division was given a mandate by our global office to double our market share (which meant we had to grow faster then the Canadian market).  AKA…. Do what you must to get the number.  It was not a question of how you reached your target, just celebrated when it was reached.  Here is what happened.  Sales reps were not supporting each other.  Some were “scamming the system” so that they were paying customers to enhance their sales into stores (not into the hands of customers).  No one was speaking up regarding the behaviours.

As a Division we compromised on our integrity and it had an impact on our culture including low moral and low trust, never mind creating a cycle of chasing a number, high turnover and an unhealthy culture.  It wasn’t until we changed the incentive plan to be a balance between both targets and how we achieved it, did the tides start to turn and we went from last place to a neck and neck battle with the number 1 company!

Own The Podium’s new mission statement is “To lead the development of Canadian sports to achieve sustainable and improved podium performances at the Olympic and Paralympic Games through a values based approach.”

Key words for me in this new mission statement are “sustainable” and “improved (podium) performances”.  When a company focuses only on the sales number, they will eventually crash and burn, not too different from many Olympic Athletes.  Just read the book Chariots and Horses #chariotsandhorses! , by Jason Dorland @JasonDorland to get a sense of the crash and burn.

The next steps are to really anchor into the values that Canadians have expressed are important to them in sports like Integrity, Excellence, Fairness and Inclusion.

Shifting a culture in an organization is not easy.  Being a values-driven organization means understanding and aligning on what the values mean, and what the behaviours are and are NOT .  In business world and shifting a culture of 50 employees or 20,000, we know one thing for sure….. It must start at the top, with the leadership.

Melanie Wanless, Chief Executive Yeller, now this is something to yell about!