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Sport Governance Principles

Principle 2: The team

aligned sport through collaborative governance


Across a sport, boards should work together to govern collaboratively and create alignment to maximise efficient use of resources and implement whole of sport plans.

  • The experience of participants and other stakeholders is enhanced, with aligned communication and shared access to information and resources.
  • There is a greater return on investment of time and money by being aligned in functions, systems and processes.
  • A united voice and coordinated delivery method allows the sport to activate the strategy.
  • There is long-term financial sustainability and reinvestment in strategic priorities because of efficient strategic and operating frameworks.
  • Across the sport, each organisation can proactively identify opportunities to achieve strategic objectives.
Questions to ask
  • How does our board build and maintain relationships with other boards?
  • Are we considering what’s best for the sport, its members and participants?
  • How do we plan and communicate as whole of sport?
  • How do we ensure our collaboration and consultation is meaningful and enduring?
  • What areas of organisational development, resource utilisation and delivery of our sport can we collaborate on?
  • How do we recognise and embrace the diverse priorities of the organisations within our sport?

Like the rest of society, sport is constantly challenged by external influences and market forces. Sport organisations must adapt to the environment and cater for new trends. This is achieved best by collaborating across the whole of sport.

What is governance alignment within a sport?

Collaborative governance is the term used to describe the need for boards in a sport network to interact and develop a whole of sport vision. To achieve this, boards within the same sport engage in collective decision-making that is formal, consensus-oriented and deliberate. This decision-making process provides the foundation for an aligned vision across the whole of sport with a common purpose for implementing strategy and associated policies.

What is alignment and how can alignment lead to shared execution?

Alignment describes how the organisations within a sport work cooperatively and collaboratively to benefit the sport. There is no singular model for achieving alignment as sports differ in many areas. Alignment within a sport can refer to areas such as branding, digital, commercial, strategy, finances, workforce, and participation program design and delivery. Alignment enables a sport to become more effective and efficient in the delivery of the sport, and ultimately improve the experience for the sport’s stakeholders.

Success of alignment and shared execution fundamentally relies on enduring cooperation, collaboration and, above all, the collective will of the boards in a sport network to promote the importance of alignment. Though one organisation, due to capacity, may be the primary facilitator of an alignment process, the outcomes must be developed and agreed upon by all parties, with the participant experience at the front of mind.

How can boards lead alignment?

Boards should apply an objective and inquiring mind, devoting appropriate and quality time to considering matters relating to alignment. As the leaders of an organisation, boards make impactful decisions. The board can, in making these decisions, deliberately and actively decide to align services and functions with other organisations within the sport. The board can also promote and advocate for alignment through the direction of resources. Furthermore, directors of the board can engage in formal and informal collaborations with other stakeholders to seek out potential areas of alignment, design an implementation strategy and approve these actions to help create an aligned sport. Therefore, the benefits of alignment and shared execution must be identified and articulated by boards. Boards have a responsibility for overseeing the strategy, but also for ensuring the future security and health of the organisation.

Example behaviours and actions

  • Actively engage in their sport network to share ideas and build and implement a cohesive vision and strategy for the sport
  • Recognise where decision-making and approvals may influence other organisations within the sport and seek their feedback and insights
  • Transparently communicate with members about changes which affect them or require their approval
  • Engage peer to peer with other directors to share ideas and build a cohesive strategy for the sport
  • Sit on working groups across the whole of sport and transparently liaise between the working group and the board
  • Ask ‘how do these changes benefit our organisation?’ and ‘how do they affect our colleagues?’
  • Facilitates and encourages regular communication between boards and executives across the sport
  • Implements aligned systems and processes
  • Collaborates with other organisations to develop and deliver grant and facility proposals
  • Organises and attends informal CEO forums where the CEOs from a sport share successes and challenges in implementing shared strategy
  • Identifies opportunities for shared systems across the sport and recommends these to the board for approval


A set of good practice suggestions, which should underpin the Board’s considerations in applying this principle.

At the national level, the different forms and disciplines of a sport should all sit within one entity from juniors to high performance.
The legal entities of a sport should agree upon objects and purpose and include these in their constitutions.
The legal entities of a sport should collaborate to develop shared strategic and operational plans. These should be designed in a way to facilitate shared execution while recognising the needs of different geographic areas.
The legal entities of a sport should identify and implement opportunities for aligned and integrated structures, systems, processes and reporting mechanisms.
Strategic working groups should be established involving key personnel with relevant expertise from across the sport as part of the strategy formulation and execution process.

Resources and tools to help

Head to the National Governance Resource Library for resources and tools.

For guidance, or to discuss how your organisation may best implement good practice in this area, please contact your State/Territory agency for sport and recreation.

For NSOs, email your query to and a consultant will contact you.

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