Women Leaders in Sport

Empower and inspire. They are two keys to good leadership according to Melissa King, chief executive of the FIBA Women’s World Cup 2022 Local Organising Committee (LOC).

They are two keys to good leadership according to Melissa King, chief executive of the FIBA Women’s World Cup 2022 Local Organising Committee (LOC).

King oversees the LOC which will deliver the once-in-a-lifetime event in Sydney this September on behalf of international (FIBA) and national (Basketball Australia) federations as 12 of the top basketball nations converge Down Under to tussle for champion status.

But the significance of the tournament extends beyond the baseline, creating a legacy for women and girls while inspiring a whole new generation.

“For me, it doesn’t matter whether it’s sport, business or the leader – a captain of a team – because at the end of the day what you’re hoping to do is inspire and empower people to step up and step in and lean into roles which traditionally they might not have thought they could or they don’t have the confidence to,” King explains.

“When they see people doing these things I hope it makes them think ‘if she can do it, I can’

A former chief executive of Surf Life Saving Australia, King has held previous roles with the Sydney Opera House, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet APEC 2007 taskforce, Commonwealth Youth Games and the Governance Institute.

Purpose and results driven, King also has a strong focus on and passion for collaboration.

“You can’t be what you can’t see so I think there’s a real responsibility for women in leadership to lead in and put yourself forward for roles that sometimes you might not think you’re 100 per cent qualified for,” she says.

“I think it’s incredibly important to lead by example, be available in these situations to encourage other people, especially women, to lead into those roles.

“I’m pretty purpose driven and results driven, so for me it’s a team approach. You can’t do everything. My team are really important and how you empower them to do things but collaborate and at the end of the day understand that decisions have to be made and we have to move forward so you need to achieve the results.

“As a leader I really want to be collaborative, I want to be engaged but I also want to be able to trust my team and invite them to be the best that they can be with me providing support.”

Leadership styles can adapt and change and feedback is important

“I think that as human beings we have different leadership styles depending upon what needs to be done, depending on the people we are dealing with and we need to embrace that and know things change,” King explains.

“The beauty of that is taking the time to reflect on the type of leader you are and don’t be afraid to ask others ‘how am I going? Is there anything I could do better?’

“As a leader sometimes you have to make difficult decisions and you are managing both your team and leading your team but you also have people that you’re responsible for.

“Somebody once said to me that not everybody understands what comes across your desk and that’s true but being as collaborative as one can be but still ensuring that you achieve the outcomes that are in front of you is really important. And having a laugh along the way too.”

So, what’s King’s message to blossoming leaders?

“I’d say to others leadership is an evolution and it’s OK to change and it’s OK to embrace different styles at different times. The fact that people lean in, you lean in to a leadership position. Sometimes you don’t want to do it, but take the chance.

“And if you make a difference to one other person who sees you and that makes them say ‘I’ll give it a go” then it’s worth it.”

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