Think about an international sporting organisation that is currently in turmoil and in the media. What are the governance issues that they are grappling with?

Professor Simon Chadwick recently wrote: “Many sports have been grappling with governance issues for several years, in some cases even decades. Several sports have unconvincingly tried to address such issues, (and) there remains a governance vacuum across world sport.”

Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of governance in club and community sport is converting passion and dedication of volunteers into focused governance.

The Sport England Club Matters website suggests that:

“Good governance is about having the right structure, people, policies and procedures in place at your club”.

The Australian Sports Commission go on to argue that this requires leadership, integrity and good judgment.

So what are the main characteristics of good governance that you can apply to your sporting context?

Well, good governance is accountable

The fundamental requirement of good governance is accountability. As such, there is an obligation to report, explain and be responsible for the consequences of any decisions made.

Good governance is transparent

People should be able to follow and understand the decision-making process. This means that they will be able to clearly see how and why a decision was made – what information, advice and consultation was considered, and which legislative requirements (when relevant) were followed.

Good governance is ethical

All decisions made must be consistent with relevant legislation, regulations and other formal frameworks; but they must also respect the commonly held values of the stakeholders and community at large.

Ethical behaviour puts the needs of the organisation ahead of individual interests.

Good governance is responsive

An organisation should always try to serve the needs of stakeholders while balancing competing interests in a timely, appropriate and responsive manner.

Good governance is equitable and inclusive

An organisation’s wellbeing results from all of its stakeholders feeling their interests have been considered in the decision-making process.

Good governance is effective and efficient

An organisation should implement decisions and follow processes that make the best use of the available people, resources and time to ensure the best possible results.

And, good governance is participatory and diverse

The very nature of sport is that it is for everyone. Diversity, inclusiveness, and the ability to appeal to and represent all of society needs to be understood and demonstrated by Directors.

Anyone affected by or interested in a decision should have the opportunity to participate in the process for making that decision.

A culture of respect, tolerance, inclusiveness, and integrity is a function of the organisation’s leaders. By embracing differences and similarities, the Board can ensure its composition and membership reflect the wider society.

Take now an organisation you are familiar with, and consider them in the light of these seven dimensions.

How accountable are they? How transparent?

For each one judge whether your organisation hits or misses – give them a score out of 10.

And be prepared to justify that score. Why are they a hit or a miss?

And finally propose how might they improve, and how this might benefit the communities they represent.