Why everybody wants you around

June 5, 2020

Please stay with this one, even if you’re not a football fan – there’s a really interesting point here, honest!

Yesterday Southampton Football Club annouced that striker Shane Long has signed a two-year contract extention. All very normal. Except it isn’t.

He’s 33 years old. Very much at the end of his career. Most don’t get a two-year contract at a Premier League club at that age.

Shane Long is a striker. In the last four seasons (including this one) he’s scored twelve goals in the Premier League. Three per season. At one point last year he had scored each of his last four goals under four different managers. These are terrible stats by any standard.

And yet when the announcement was made I, a Southampton fan, was delighted and, judging by social media response, I was not alone.

It seems we love Shane Long.

Not just fans though. Watch/read any interview with his team-mates. They love him too. They love working with him. They love what he brings to the team. His efforts make others’ jobs easier. He helps his collegues excel.

Why is this?

Attitude. Character.

Unselfish, positive, humble, tireless, kind, helpful, caring, good fun.

These are just some of the words used to describe the way he is on a football pitch or generally around the club and, importantly, in the community.

He’s also an absolute nightmare for the opposition because he never stops running!

It’s clear the contract extension is not just about what he brings on the pitch but also his all-round contribution, his influence on younger players, his positive contribution to the whole environment.

Of course we’d love it if he scored more goals, but we would absolutely hate it if he wasn’t around.

I’m sure you have some people like that where you work. Maybe it’s you?

 


What a waste.

April 6, 2020

I’m writing with a fairly heavy heart today as someone who cares about leadership and really wants our leaders to do well. Everything works better when leaders lead well and now, perhaps more than ever, we need things to be done well. We certainly can’t afford to waste time, effort, money and resources in the global fight against Covid-19.

There were two situations that arose over the weekend that saddened me. The first was the announcment by (the hugely profitable) Liverpool FC that they would furlough certain non-playing staff and claim the assistance from the government for 80% of their wages.

The criticism of this has been widespread and well-covered so no need for me to rehash the detail. I do feel extremely sorry for those who have an afiiation with that club. People want to believe in the organisation they work for, the team they support and the people they follow.

In taking this decision the leaders (owners) have caused untold damage in ways which are hard to repair. Trust, integrity, shared values, connection and community are not easily built but are quickly lost. Such a waste.

I know that other football clubs have done the same by the waym though I think that Liverpool has grated more due to its famously integral place at the heart of that community, a fondness founded in togetherness, belonging and shared values.

The second situation was that of the Scottish Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, who was forced to resign after flouting the non-essential travel rules that she herself was the media face of. She was clearly doing an important and seemingly  good job and it’s such a waste of ability, as well as the time and effort of those left picking up the pieces to deal with the fall-out and organise a replacement.

I make no harsh judgement of Calderwood for who hasn’t at times facesd their own hypocrisy? This is such a stark reminder though of the imperative for leadership integrity when there is so much more at stake than just that invididual’s reputation.

Neither of these scenarious have anything to do with competence in the job. It’s all about character. Personal Leadership. The most important aspect of all leadership.

Where leaders fail the character test, there’s just so much waste. Invest in your own personal leadership. Invest in others anywhere you have influence.

 

 

 


Everyone loves Gareth!

July 5, 2018

Right now as England face a World Cup Quarter Final against Sweden in two days, the talk of the town is not the players – usually the focus of most of the hype when it comes to football (Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar etc) – but the England manager, Gareth Southgate. It seems that everyone loves him.

I am very firmly in that camp too – Gareth Southgate comes across as an absolutely top class man. He conducts himself with humility, grace and calmness. He doesn’t make it all about him (take note Jose Mourinho). He encourages his players to fulfil their potential. He speaks honestly. He obviously cares deeply and understands that so many others do too; whether that’s the fans in the stadium whom he takes time to acknowledge after a match, the press corps, the English public etc.

One extraordinary photo, published after England beat Colombia on penalties in the previous match, shows Gareth embracing the Colombian player who missed their crucial penalty. In light of the particularly spikey nature of the on-field contest, this is especially remarkable. Contrast this with the German coaches who invoked the wrath of the Swedish manager earlier in the tournament by celebrating their last minute winning goal wildly right in front of the Swedish bench in an act of gross unsportsmanship which saw then banned by the German Football Federation.

Who knows what will happen in the rest of the tournament but there’s no doubt that the England manager has shone as an outstanding leader and his players (those on the inside) and the rest of the country (those on the outside) are firmly behind him in wishing him every success.

Leadership is about having clear goals, vision, communication, strategy, KPIs, performance measures and the like, but (and it’s a really big but!) it’s at least as much (I would argue more) about character – being a leader others trust and will gladly follow.

It’s why Personal Leadership is step 1 in LMI’s Total Leader process – it comes before Productivity, Motivational Leadership & Strategic Leadership. Leadership is influence through relationships. It’s a people thing. Gareth has got this part of it spot on and, best of all, it seems entirely genuine. He is being authentic, true to himself rather than following some leadership playbook. All leaders take note – the world’s a much happier place and results are much more likely to be good when you have this level of goodwill towards you.

Best of luck Gareth and the team. YOU have won us over and we would be delighted to see you succeed (not sure I could have said this about your predecessor).

P.S. If you’ve not seen it yet, check out the Twitter feed #GarethSouthgateWould for some light entertainment!