The Leicester City triumph of the English Premier (soccer) League showed that great leadership, teamwork, training and commitment can be a winning formula over simply buying in talent. The team started with, arguably, average players. But under their manager’s direction, they have been nurtured and moulded into a star team. Yes, they’ve had some individual stand-out stars in their midst but it’s been the combination of players that’s made the difference. Claudio Ranieri understood how to value individuals’ contribution and make the most of it. His motto was always, step by step, take each 90 minutes at a time. That dogged persistence, his commitment to the team, his consistent and undramatic style worked their magic. No showboating for Claudio. Just a clear and stable approach to motivating his players.
There’s a lot to take from this story into corporate leadership. Keeping steady. Regular feedback based on the next target. A steady support of the team with no need to single out any individual for ‘good’ or ‘bad’ reasons.
We place a lot of time, effort and money on expensive recruitment and selection processes in many companies today. Of course we do need talent. But the Leicester story shows that perhaps we don’t always need to hire stars right across the board. One or two here and there for specific reasons. And then put those talented individuals with others and nurture all of them and build a team.
There’s one other aspect of this inspiring story about Leicester. Claudio Ranieri said himself the day after the victory that he was pleased to achieve this victory at the end of his career because if he had achieved it at the beginning, he may have forgotten what it felt like by now. Perhaps that’s true, who knows. But one thing is true here: we can expect as many new surprises and innovation from our more mature and experienced managers as we can from our ‘rising’ stars. Let’s remember that.
3 May 2016