Over the last three weeks we have watched the England football team fly, their engagement, commitment, performance and teamwork have been the best we have seen for 28 years. Resulting in them being in a semi-final for the first time since 1990. England have produced many outstanding players over those years Gazza, Lineker, Beckham, Shearer, Owen and Ferdinand so what is the difference this time. I believe it’s Gareth Southgate, he has cast a positive leadership shadow over the team which has given them the competitive advantage needed and is something other leaders can learn from. As leaders why not ask yourself what would Gareth Southgate do…..
1. Gareth Southgate would….. Demonstrate empathy and compassion:
Source: www. Theguardianonline.com<http://Theguardianonline.com> Gareth Southgate (right) and Colombia’s coach, José Pékerman, with Mateus Uribe after the penalty shootout.
Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters
From comforting the Colombian player Mateus Uribe who missed a penalty to allowing Fabian Delph to fly home to be at the birth of his child then return to play in the match. He has shown how every leader needs to tune into what their team and others need at any one time to build their morale. Holistic leadership is ever more important with today’s workforce.
2. Gareth Southgate would ….. Think strategically
No leader can stand alone, they need to build their team of experts whose knowledge they can draw on as and when needed. Taking the long view, ignoring critics and having the expertise and confidence to stand by their “cunning plan”. From Steve Holland to Harry Kane his team of coaches and influencers have meticulously planned their assault on the world football stage.
3. Gareth Southgate would…..Know how to execute the cunning plan
Strategy is one thing but unless you can focus and execute the plan you may as well not have it. He has listened to his experts and contributed himself, from picking youngsters like Jason Pickford to the use of the highly successful match set pieces helping England to so far produce the same number of goals as in 1966. According to Shearer “sets pieces do not happen by chance, they take strategy, practice, more practice and continual reinforcement” Much like the steps of service or the reinforcement of producing a positive customer journey “moments of truth”
4. Gareth Southgate would…. Demonstrate role modelling behaviours
When other managers have been less than honourable… Columbia ahem! He has shown himself to stand up to scrutiny and rise above the petty squabbles.
“The culture of any organisation will be a reflection of the behaviours exhibited by their leader” Larry Senn Winning Teams – Winning Cultures. Every manager casts their leadership shadow, Southgate has done the same. He has shown when needed a measured approach, enthusiasm, passion and most importantly reminded his team to take it “one game at a time “. A Phrase we have seen repeated many times by the players when interviewed.
3. Gareth Southgate would… Show humility
When interviewed and told he was the latest thinking woman’s sex symbol he replied “really.. I’m no David Beckham”. He did however explain that as a manager it is important to set an example and look the part. Like Gene Krantz, the NASA Shift Director, who always wore his lucky waistcoat for every mission (perhaps that’s why Apollo 13 came home) Gareth wears his.
In interviews he rarely talks about his own ability instead shining the spotlight on his team and not just the glory boys also the coaches and support team.
4. Gareth Southgate would… Show enthusiasm and give praise
From the roars of jubilation and his huge grin when the team score then hugging his support team to the individual congratulations and hugs at the end of every match for every person. He ensures that everyone associated with the England team, not just the players are recognised. This shows the importance of praise and recognition across an organisations workforce which drives engagement and commitment.
Difficult conversations are had behind closed doors and do not involve throwing football boots at players. The team are motivated and built up again to succeed. In other words his feedback is constructive or positive never negative.
6. Gareth Southgate would ….. Draw on his experience
Having been there, done it, worn and lost the T-shirt he knows exactly what it takes to make sure it never happens again as a player and as manager of Crystal Palace.
As an England supporter many won’t forget how he missed a crucial penalty in ‘98. He has since used that experience along with his domestic and international career to plan and prepare the team to succeed.
7. Gareth Southgate would….. Create a relaxed atmosphere.
During the match analysis Jürgen Klinsmann explained that the relaxed atmosphere Southgate is creating in the camp is evident on the pitch. Neither to tough or soft he is working with his team to unify them. Whether it be training hard, bouts of yoga or a simple stroll to the shops the team are given the time to rest, rejuvinate and relax.
8. Gareth Southgate would….. Rise if he failed
We will know by next week whether Gareth Southgate and the team can take us all the way and I don’t doubt there will be many articles written about his leadership style. I suspect we will beat Croatia and be in the final and yes I hope it’s coming home, but what if it does not. I suspect that Gareth Southgate would ….. not be sacked, he has taken us further than any England manager in recent times. Gareth Southgate would however analyse each step taken in the competition, learn from the experience and then come back even stronger next time. Would you?
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