In a profound way England’s success at the 2018 World Cup is all the greater for them not having come home with the trophy. Had they done so all the commentary would have been about the win; endless TV appearances showing off the trophy, managing the weight of expectations in respect of the next tournament, or batting off cynical comments about now having to wait another fifty or so years for the next one.
So OK the trophy may not have made it back to England, but the universal response to England reaching the semi-finals is one of positivity and pride. For in doing so the team reached above and beyond expectations. Along the way they have shown us all how teamwork, leadership and learning from experience can produce a winning formula.
Own the process
Let’s start with learning from experience and where better place to start than in the experience of having a penalty attempt saved. In life things don’t always run smoothly, but it is how you respond to the setbacks that defines you as a person. Gareth Southgate could have allowed his 1996 penalty ‘miss’ to overwhelm him. Instead he used it as a catalyst to enable the current England team to win their first penalty shootout at a World Cup. As he said recently:
“It’s not about luck. It’s not about chance. It’s about performing a skill under pressure. There are things you can work on, things that can be helpful for the preparation for the players. We have studied it. There is a lot we can do to own the process, and not be controlled by it.”
That’s a lesson which we can all take to our hearts. Success isn’t an accident; it takes preparation, training and an attention to detail.
Lead with respect
“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.”
That comment comes from an interview with Gareth Southgate on the FA website  which all business leaders would do well to read. In it he talks about giving players responsibility and ownership, about treating each player as an individual and about the importance of empathy in leadership.
Here communication is key with players being encouraged to contribute and to discuss. After all, in the heat of the game there is little time to stop and consider moves. The manager has to trust that the players will do what is right in the heat of the moment. This again is a lesson we can take out into business. The greater the training, the more in-depth the discussion, the more we are able as leaders to step back and trust that our people will deliver what is required.
It is said that sport and business have much to learn from each other. Gareth Southgate’s approach; his willingness to approach players as individuals combined with his attitude to training has helped the England team to perform above expectations. The quest for the trophy may roll on but in so many ways at this World Cup England has brought success home.
About Helen Green
Helen is a collaborator, a deadline demon and a diplomat. She is often described by her colleagues and clients as the glue in their projects. She can be contacted via www.questleadership.co.uk or E-mail: [email protected]
After a degree in Hotel & Catering Management at Surrey University, she worked for 10 years with Whitbread, Bass and the Forte Group, gaining broad business experience in operations, communications, senior management and franchising. This eclectic experience reinforced Helen’s belief in the untapped potential in people and the importance of strong values in business and has formed the foundations of her subsequent career.
Helen worked for 10 years in business consulting with Tom Peters Company, as senior consultant and Partner, before co-founding Quest Leadership in 2007.
During her consulting career, Helen has worked at all levels, with individuals and teams, to initiate and facilitate personal development. Recent clients include: LSG Skychefs, Aim Aviation, Leica Geosystems, Texas Instruments, EnOcean, Gripple Ltd..
Helen’s competitive streak has driven her to compete at county level in badminton, and squash and equestrian eventing. Helen’s non-work interests centre on family, friends, cooking and sport.