The Path to High Performance Symposium...

Lessons Learned Through Business & Sport

June 3 – 5, 2025 at Acadia University, Wolfville

The rate of change in society has never been greater. Challenges and opportunities faced by organizations seem never ending; continuing consequences of the global pandemic; effects of artificial intelligence; challenges and opportunities presented by diversity, inclusion, and equity; recruiting and retaining employees during a reported “great resignation”; a mental health crisis…  the list goes on.  Resulting increases in social and economic uncertainty have redefined the challenges and opportunities faced by organizational leaders in all sectors, with business and sport being no exception.

What had been a truism “the past is the best predictor of the future,” is no longer so. What then is the best predictor of the future? While we don’t claim “to know,” what we do know, is that there are certain individual and organizational approaches and innovative mindsets that will allow leaders to best adapt and thrive.

The purpose of our symposium is to investigate approaches for most effectively addressing the challenges of today. Leaders from the worlds of sport and business will “kick off” discussions of challenges and related opportunities they have faced and how they have been dealt with most effectively. 

Sport has unique elements which result in particular leadership challenges.  Examples include being in a “fish bowl” as changes in strategies, tactics, and performance are all transparent.  Additionally, sport generates passion among a broad array of salient stakeholder groups (Szymanski & Wolfe, 2019).  One can think of the leadership challenges faced by sport leaders as a stress test—rather than being evaluated by physicians, this stress test is evaluated by team ownership and other stakeholders. Importantly, to excel on this stress test—sport leaders must excel in areas relevant to leaders in various domains; these areas include setting clear goals, defining priorities, and aligning their team toward a shared vision; establishing teamwork and collaboration; adapting to frequent clear metrics of performance; empowering others; and having a growth mindset and resilience, as at the end of the season, on average, half of all games played will be lost.

Join us as we explore the challenges and opportunities shared by leaders in various types of organizations.  Each topic to be discussed will open with a focus on achieving organizational excellence in sport; we will then turn to the relevance of those learnings to excellence in business; finally, our organizational scientists will discuss how the learnings could be considered generic—and thus be applicable to leaders in all domains.

We anticipate addressing five main topics, moving from broader organizational matters to individual:

Our team of experts and learners in sport ( including Mark Shapiro and Hayley Wickenheiser), business, and organizational science, will relate how best practices in sport and business can be generalized for leadership across domains.

Mark Shapiro
Mark Shapiro is the president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays. Shapiro was hired by the Blue Jays after working in the Cleveland Indians organization for 24 years. He originally started with the franchise in 1991 and was promoted to general manager in 2001. Shapiro was named Sporting News Executive of the Year in 2005 and 2007. Cleveland won the American League Central Division championship in 2007. He was promoted to Indians president in 2010.

Hayley Wickenheiser
Currently the Assistant General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Hayley Wickenheiser is a decorated Olympian and regarded as one of the best female hockey players in the world with an uncompromised determination and dedication to her sport. However, it’s not just her lethal slapshot that is respected by her teammates, fans and peers; Hayley is also an award winner, community leader, mentor, history-maker and an accomplished businesswoman. 

A full list of speakers and program schedule will be available soon! Sign up to receive email updates on the symposium, to join us learning collectively from experts in Sport & Business.

**Speakers subject to change**

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