The PBSL’s Leadership Programme kicks off on 31st May and ahead of the first session, we caught up with course leaders Chris Brindley MBE and Tom Sears to find out more about what members can expect from the course.


Tell us about your background in leadership roles.

Chris Brindley MBE: I have worked in leadership roles outside sport as well as inside. My corporate leadership included different industries such as Banking and Energy, where I attended some detailed and informative programmes on leadership, led by the best academics from Harvard, Duke, Ashridge, Insead and Manchester Business Schools.

These programmes helped me go back to my workplace and practically apply the principles in a work based environment. I like to think of this as being “prac-acdemic’. In one role I had responsibility for leading over 5000 people across over 400 outlets, and this helped me lead remotely through values and standards. In sport I have been on the Board in several types of sporing organisations from those operate through charitable their status, National Governing Bodies, and recently a global tournament that included Women and wheelchair events, as well as Men.

Tom Sears: I was very lucky and my first role in sport was as part of Clive Woodward’s leadership team for the England Rugby squad which taught me a huge amount about purpose, strategy, developing the right values and culture in a high-performance, pressurised environment. I secured my first CEO role in my early thirties and led professional clubs, provincial associations and national governing bodies in the UK, Australia, Africa and Europe so I have worked across very different organisations and cultures. I now head Kinsey Sears and we work with all types of organisations across the sports industry worldwide to define, develop and source outstanding sports leadership which provides excellent insight into what great leaders looks like and what the industry is looking for.


Why are you running this leadership programme? 

CB: I am a big fan of the PBSL and the support it is looking to give its members. Sport can be so busy, people working in the industry can get caught up in the day to day, week to week and often don’t have the opportunity to stop and allow some personal development time. This programme allows the opportunity to learn from recognised practitioners in sport across a range leadership subjects. The sessions are bite sized, and delivered monthly at lunchtimes, so allowing individuals to schedule around the day job.

TS: I think it is a great opportunity for delegates to learn from people who have been in high-profile leadership positions, and it was an opportunity I would have relished earlier in my career but there was nothing comparable at the time. All outstanding leaders invest in their own professional development and have a growth mindset and this programme will provide a platform to learn from those delivering the course and learn from their fellow delegates through sharing their insight and experience.


What will participants gain from taking part in the leadership programme? 

CB: Participants will get 3 distinct things from the programme.

Firstly, some key leadership principles from those who deliver the programme. For some these will be new, for others a good reminder of best practice.

Secondly, through the Q & A sessions, the opportunity to ask about current issues/situations that they would like help with.

Thirdly, the opportunity to learn and network with other participants.

TS: A chance to interact with fellow industry leaders and those working towards those positions, a practical insight into the foundations of leadership in the sports industry and how to apply them and a forum where they can share experiences, challenges and issues they face and get some support, knowledge and advice.


What session are you most looking forward to delivering and why? 

CB: All the sessions will excite me, as it’s about adding value to those joining the programme, so I have no particular favourite. I am actually looking forward to listening to some of the sessions that I am not involved in, so I can learn from others too.

TS: I really enjoy the sessions where we look at live issues affecting the industry and discuss how delegates would approach them. Talking about the theory is incredibly valuable but the most valuable learning is when you try and apply that to real world situations when you have to take into account so many different factors and stakeholders. Sport is unique and leadership in the sports industry is uniquely demanding.


Can you tell us more about the guest speakers you have invited to take part?

CB: The guest speakers come from a wide sporting background and have experience that participants will be able to tap into to progress their learning journey in sport. Jon Dutton, current CEO at British Cycling has a wide range of leadership experience across different sports and can talk about leading in difficult situations due to the pandemic and having to postpone and rearrange the Rugby League World Cup 2021. Similarly, Stuart Cain, CEO Warwickshire CCC has great experience as an Executive and also a Board member in sport, as well as roles outside of sport in ticketing and Commercial areas. Matt Rogan, Co-founder of Two Circles will deliver on insight and what that can do to help sporting organisations attract and retain new audiences as well as how to maximise the value from the relationship.

TS: For delegates to have the chance to learn from people like Chris Brindley and Matt Rogan who have been there and set the standard is invaluable – they have incredible stories to tell and experience to share. Delegates will learn from what the speakers got right and just as importantly what we have all got wrong from time to time.


How would this course have benefited you if you had taken it earlier in your career?

CB: Simply put, I would have learned quicker from people with different experiences, outside my own organisation/industry. Throughout my career, I have been pretty obsessed about learning from others. Whilst books and audio books are great, for me there is nothing better than a programme where you get to attend with an individual and have the opportunity to listen and ask questions. A quote shared with me early on in my learning journey was ‘A one hour conversation, is worth more than a month of books”

TS: Enormously! I would have loved this sort of opportunity to be part of a group that learns together, shares experience and develop an amazing network.



You can find out more about the Leadership Programme, including how to join the course, by visiting the course info page via the link below.