Changing perceptions, promoting success

Changing perceptions, promoting success

It is said that sport and business have a lot to learn from each other, particularly in terms of leadership, approach and teamwork. For those who look to learn from sport the 2018 Football World Cup has delivered a very real example of leadership in action.

By the time you read this the World Cup may be over, or results may not have gone as expected. Nevertheless, that doesn’t take away from the very visible demonstration of the way in which leadership can transform attitudes.

The Companies Act 2006 sets out that the duties of a director include a duty to promote the success of a company. That includes taking account of:

  • the interests of the company’s employees;
  • the need to foster the company’s business relationships with suppliers, customers and others;
  • the impact of the company’s operations on the community and the environment;

Let’s look at this in footballing terms starting with the interests of employees. How many times in a season do we hear that a manager has ‘lost the dressing room’ leading to a poor run of form. It may be obvious but unless a manager is fully focused on delivering an environment and culture which resonates with the players then they are never going to step up and play to their capabilities.

At the time of writing with England having qualified for the quarter finals Gareth Southgate has been praised for the culture of collective leadership and positivity which he has brought to the England team. His players demonstrate a belief and energy which is a testimony to his philosophy that “if a player feels that you respect them and you want to help them, then they are more likely to listen to you and follow you.”

Now when a team is playing well that naturally has an impact on its supporters. When a national side steps up to the mark then it can have an impact on the wider community and the economy. So much so that the Centre for Retail Research has estimated that simply by reaching the knock out stages the England team has added £800m to the economy and should they reach the final the economy could benefit to the tune of £2.7b.

Equally important is the way in which leaders interact with others. One football commentator remarked that not only had Gareth Southgate changed expectations in the dressing room, he had also changed the perceptions and expectations of reporters. Building a positive reputation delivers a spiral of success in which reputation and belief contribute to positive outcomes.

Previous England sides have been dogged by the pressure of past failures and the weight of expectation. By changing perceptions, engendering belief and creating positivity Gareth Southgate has already given us a valuable lesson in promoting success.

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