The Sport Information Resource Centre
The Sport Information Resource Centre

Recognizing the importance of engaging highly qualified leaders on the Board of Directors, Volleyball Canada recently completed a succession planning process. Mark Eckert, President and CEO recognizes that, “With only 7 people on our board, it’s critical that we continue to attract exceptional directors to govern our organization.” After reviewing a number of on-line resources, Volleyball Canada created a customized approach to succession planning which included the following 3 steps:

Step 1 – Identify the key skills, experience, knowledge and diversity you need
Step 2 – Create a skills matrix for current board members
Step 3 – Conduct targeted recruiting
Details on the steps and the tools are outlined below:
Step 1 – Identify the key skills, experience, knowledge and diversity you need

The board started the exercise by creating a survey tool to identify the most important skills, experiences and knowledge for directors. The initial questionnaire (Appendix 1) was adapted from the UK Sport and Recreation Alliance Board Recruitment Resource (Reference 1). When the board met, they reviewed the survey input and discussed the results.  This face-to-face discussion was an important part of the exercise because it allowed for clarification and priority setting as a group.  The group has a very productive discussion on which skills they wanted around the board table and which skills could be sourced from national staff, provincial/territorial associations, or contractors. Also during this step of the process, the board identified additional attributes/characteristics that are essential for a diverse board. Having a discussion about diversity will increase the likelihood of having a good balance between; geographical representation, men and women and language diversity.

Step 2 – Create a skills matrix for current board members

After a detailed discussion of over 30 different skills and competencies, the board identified 8 essential skills for a high functioning board.  It’s important to note that not all directors need all 8 skills, but as a collective, the board should possess all of these skills. Using the 8 essential skills to create a checklist (Tool 2), directors indicated their individual skills to create a skills matrix.  Having a composite list of skills as well as the duration of the board terms by director, allowed the board to identify the skills they needed for future, prospective directors.

Step 3 – Targeted Recruiting

The final step is to recruit prospective directors with the skills, experience and diversity to round out the board.  In the case of Volleyball Canada, they have a Nominating Committee who has a responsibility of recruiting individuals to run for the board.  The nominating form requires candidates to identify their skills based on the matrix (Appendix 3 – Nomination Form for Volleyball Canada Board of Directors – Nominee Profile). 

Closing Thoughts

Following a deliberate and structured approach to director succession planning will ensure the board has the skills, experience and diversity required to effectively lead your organization.  

Rio de Janeiro-15/9/2016- Canada plays Rwanda in the women’s sitting volleyball at RioCentre at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. Photo Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee
Appendix 1 – Initial Menu of Core Skills
Menu Of Skills for Volleyball Canada Board Background

As part of succession planning for the Board, VC is creating a skills matrix for the board of directors.  Before mapping skills of the current board and developing targeted recruitment plans, leaders of VC will identify which skills are most important for the board.  Ideally, VC will have a list of 8-12 core skills for the matrix. VC leaders are invited to consider each skill on this list and identify if they feel it’s “not important”, “somewhat important”, or “very important” for a board member to have this expertise.

Skill Not Important Somewhat Important Very Important
1. Business Acumen
2. Business Development
3. Change Management
4. Conflict resolution
5. Member Relations
6. Diversity and Inclusion
7. Event Management
8. Financial/Budget Control
9. Fundraising
10. Strategic Planning and Management
11. Leadership
12. Governance
13. Knowledge of Sport & Recreation Sector
14. HR/Training
15. Information Technology
16. Legal
17. Management
18. Marketing
19. Media/PR
20. Policy Implementation
21. Research
22. Sport Development
23. Understanding of the Canadian Sport System
24. Understanding of International Sport Environment
25. Are there other skills, not included in the list above, that would be an asset for the VC Board?
Appendix 2 – Skills Matrix for Current Directors (Sample)
Volleyball Canada Skills Matrix – April 2016 – Sample Summary Background
Hoag Glenn coach of Canada

During the April 2016 meeting, Board members identified 8 Key skills that are required for Volleyball Canada board members.  The group noted that it is not essential for each board member to possess all of these skills, but as a collective, the board should have these skills. The nominating committee will use this matrix when recruiting new board members.

Traits of Board Members

In addition to the specific skills listed below, the board acknowledged that board members should be passionate, team players that possess leadership skills and are ambassadors for the organization.

Audit of 2016 Skills

The following is a summary of skills, as self-reported by current board members.

List of Key Skills Director 1 (’14-’16)   Director 2 (’14-16) Director 3 (’14-’16) Director 4 (’15-’17)   Director 5 (’15-’17) Director 6 (’15-’17) Director 7 (’15-’17)
Business Acumen X X X X X
Governance + Policy Dev’p X X X X X
Financial/Budget Control X X X X X X
Strategic Plan and Management X X X X X
Communication X X X
Knowledge of VB + Cnd Sport X X X X X
Player Representative X X
Legal X X X
Appendix 3 – Nominee Profile and Skills Matrix
Nomination Form – Volleyball Canada Board of Directors
Gavin Schmitt of Canada spikes
Part 2 – Nominee Profile

Please complete the following or attach a resume or CV outlining experience and qualifications.



Volleyball Background (specify applicable background in volleyball):

Personal Background (specify any personal information that may be applicable to this position):

Position Statement (describe your reasons for seeking this position, and your views on important issues relating to volleyball in Canada):

Skills Matrix – Mark an “X” in the box of the skills that you possess

1.    Business Acumen
2.    Governance and Policy Development
3.    Financial/Budget Control
4.    Strategic Plan and Management
5.    Communication
6.    Knowledge of VB and the Canada Sport System
7.    Player Representative
8.    Legal


UK Sport and Recreation Alliance Web Site – Board Recruitment – Skills and Expertise Table

Volleyball Canada – Menu of Core Skills, Skills Matrix for Directors and Board of Directors Nominating Form – Nominee Profile