Gareth Jennings of FIFA joins the Association of Sporting Directors members for an online seminar

FIFA’s Head of Technical Leadership, Gareth Jennings, joins members of the Association of Sporting Directors to discuss his journey to date, his current role at FIFA and an insight into leadership development in a conversation with Dan Parnell.

The following areas were covered within the conversation: 

  • Adjusting to the impact of COVID-19
  • Developing technical directors at international level
  • The role of the leader as a systemic thinker
  • Leadership development

The conversation began by Gareth explaining to ASD members about his personal experiences within football, and previous pathway prior to joining FIFA. This included working in rugby league as a performance director before returning to football, operating as Head of Education and Academy Director before making the switch to FIFA last year.  

Gareth explained FIFAs ambition, and described the complex characteristics and responsibilities of the technical director role at international level, comparing the key differences of those operating at club level. This included providing an overview into the technical leadership development programme at FIFA and how he supports technical directors and how his team have subsequently adjusted during this period to continue to support technical directors remotely. 

The conversation moved onto Gareth’s extensive experiences and ideas of modern leadership development and how Technical Directors can adapt effectively during this period of time. Gareth emphasised the need for leaders to require authenticity, trust, honesty and integrity, along with a consistency in how leaders operate.

As part of the conversation on leadership, Gareth detailed the need for systemic thinking as a leadership approach. Systemic leadership has been evidenced in wider leadership research in education and sport. Systemic thinking allows you as a leader to have an awareness of your current situation, understand any key challenges and how to overcome these with the ability of looking ahead at the opportunities available for success.

Following this, the discussion focused on leadership during COVID-19, specifically the importance of a leader to guide this process within their organisation towards the overall vision and seize the opportunity to work more effectively and maximise the time available during the pandemic.

Finally, Gareth discussed the importance of current leaders to both identify and develop leaders of the future within football, before a highly interesting Q&A between Gareth and ASD members. 

The ASD aims to support sporting directors in professional football. These conversations allow members to connect, share practice, develop ideas and innovate. The full conversation is available to ASD members. We are thankful to Gareth Jennings and Dan Parnell for an interesting discussion.

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