Key people in Greater Manchester’s physical activity and community leisure sector are being selected to take part in a new transformational leadership programme designed to steer their transition from being ‘fitness and facilities’ managers to becoming leaders of public health, wellbeing and communities.
Regional community collective, GM Active CIC, wants to inspire the region’s community leisure workforce to offer new ways of helping people live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives in areas with some of the worst health metrics in the UK.
The programme has been created to empower staff to play a greater role in developing new wellness services and innovative, cross-sectoral responses to current and emerging population health needs.
Learners will understand the notion of ‘leadership rather than management’ and will be equipped to ‘think aspirationally’, develop high-performing teams, have a wider appreciation of the physical activity ecosystem and be capable of working in a collaborative way across this system towards the achievement of defined objectives.
The programme will cover key topics that will help staff understand their role and look at wellness, UK NHS and social care systems with a view to identifying more collaborative ways of working with other professionals and community groups.
The NHS landscape is changing and this programme will enable the learners to understand this better, and be able to identify opportunities and develop common purpose, in order that physical activity can contribute to how preventative health is tackled across the integrated care system.
Two groups of 20 sector leaders will gain the latest insight and skills to help the sector more effectively address the huge health and physical activity inequalities that exist across the region’s diverse communities.
The programme they will undertake consists of five modules – each will take around a month to complete and once the learners have completed it, they’ll become part of a growing transformational leadership community, meaning their learning and development has no ‘finish line’.
Finally, a 100 day plan will be developed at the conclusion of the programme, set around one of the five themes of Sport England’s Uniting the Movement strategy.
Who’s taking part?
Previous educational achievement is not a prerequisite for joining the programme, as it’s been designed for those within a leadership position who are accountable for navigating transformation in thinking and positioning across Greater Manchester.
GM Active Chair Andy King said: “It’s vital that staff across the sector understand much more about the wider community we serve and how we can better play our part in improving health and wellbeing services for everyone across Greater Manchester.
“We need transformational leaders to help us achieve a shift in our workforce’s mindset. It’s clear that leaders already exist across GM Active – we want to enable these people to grow, do more and be better connected to the ecosystem they’re part of.
“Our leadership programme will bolster the knowledge and understanding of our staff to meet the demands of their roles and the changing needs of our communities.
“They will have the skills and knowledge to ensure their facilities and services are part of the whole-system approach and contribute to the sector’s pivot from leisure to wellness.
“We believe wellness is the development of habitual behaviour that contributes to improvement in the physical, mental and social wellbeing of an individual, so they can live a happy, fulfilled and thriving life.”
Areas for development
The GM Active Leadership programme has five parts covering the principles of leadership, creating culture, understanding today’s leisure and wellness sector including key agendas, services and organisations; these include whole system thinking, health inequalities, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and leading for renewal.
Each module will be delivered via a number of channels, including a webinar, delivered by an experienced leisure professional, followed by an e-learning module. This will be supported by offline learning tasks, with the whole module wrapped up with a seminar, to check understanding, embed learning and allow for knowledge sharing.
Ultimately, the learners’ success will be defined by how effectively they fulfil the objectives of their organisation and its contribution to improving population health across Greater Manchester.
The culture of GM Active
A distinctive feature of the way GM Active operates is the promotion of co-working between physical activity and clinical healthcare providers. Its training programmes reflect this and act as a ‘skills passport’ for continuous professional development in the industry.
The programme has been designed and delivered in partnership with Future Fit, supported by Greater Sport and made possible by £40k of investment from the National Lottery, through the Local Pilot in Greater Manchester with Sport England.
Elaine Briggs, director of education at Future Fit, said: “This course is the first of its kind, created in partnership with and delivered by experts in their field. The training aims to equip individuals with the skills to reimagine the sector landscape, connect with their communities and wider organisations and deliver on their local outcomes and those of the Sport England Uniting the Movement strategy.
“We believe this training is vital to ensure we’re creating leaders who understand how they can influence change in their communities and create a joined-up approach to health and wellness, while motivating their teams through dynamic, passionate leadership.”