Whats the Role of Leadership in Teamwork?

world cupWe are currently in the midst of World Cup Fever. We follow our teams with hopes, with high expectations, many of which our teams will fail to achieve, and when they fail we will look for someone to blame.

But who’s fault is it?

Many of us will blame the referees, maybe we will blame the players, or maybe, just maybe we will point the finger at the manager.

It’s true that some teams will achieve their full potential, or maybe even exceed it, and it still won’t be enough to win. There can only be one winner, and usually that winner is the team who perform best overall throughout the tournament.

But so often teams fail to live up to their full potential, England are constant under achievers, Argentina boast one of the best squads yet they rarely deliver on their on their promise, in the last world cup it was France who dramatically under achieved and left early, in this one it’s Spain, packed with talent yet going home before the first week is completed.

When all is said and done, there really is only one person accountable when the squad fails to reach it’s full potential and thats the leader, the team manager.

We can make all the excuses we want about the players, that we feel they are overpaid, that they don’t try or don’t care, but it’s the manager who selects the players.

It’s also the manager who selects the tactics, prepares the team for the game, and then it’s the manager who has the authority to make playing changes during the game as events arise and we see that the current tactics are not working.

It’s also the managers job to motivate the team, to give the team the belief and confidence that they can win such that they do their utmost, that they give 110%. When teams give a 110% with their right team and the right tactics, then they become the best that they can be.

It’s under these circumstances that the team will achieve it’s maximum potential, and as fans thats the most we can really expect.

Any Manager, or Coach who fails to achieve this has only himself to blame.

I already see that many blame the goal keeper Iker Casilias for Spain’s failing, but his form has been poor all season, he was not even first choice for his club. Given all of that the manager should really have questioned whether he should have been in the team or not, but he didn’t he ignored the evidence and selected a poor performing player.

This is not the players fault, it’s the managers, he selected him, he should have corrected that mistake, but he didn’t.

As leaders we may like to hide behind things like this, but we have the decision over who plays and who doesn’t, it’s our choice, our accountability, and when we select players who are clearly not performing well, then we are to blame for the outcome.

It’s the leader who has to develop the team, create the team spirit, get the team to gel such that the team exceeds it’s collective potential, making the sum of the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

Sometimes this can mean that we need to drop star players because the overall team is better without them than with them, or it maybe its that the best players attitude is not conducive to creating a great team spirit.

I remember when I was back in college and I was captain of the rugby team and we had a game against the team, Liverpool University, who were top of the league, they were unbeaten, and who had beaten us the 50-0 just the week before.

As we were getting changed and I was giving the team talk, our best player said ‘I don’t know why you bother, we are going to get slaughtered today, we don’t have a chance‘.

So right in front of the team I said, ok, then I’d like you to start from the bench, if you don’t believe we can win, then we won’t get the best out of you.  He was a little stunned when I said that.

So I went round the entire teams asking them whether they felt we could win or not, and everyone in the team said, yes we believe we can win, as it turned out we lost 45-5, we didn’t win, but we did give it our best, we did become the first team to score against them and we did improve on our previous performance.

We had achieved our full potential, but unfortunately it wasn’t good enough. We can’t be blamed for that, but we could have been blamed if we don’t perform to our potential.

It’s the leaders role to create the team, to take the raw components to mould them, to shape them, to create the belief such that the team will exceed the sums of their individual talents.

The manager who can do that will be the one who will put his team within reach of lifting the world cup.

Don’t believe me, go back and look at the success of Greece in European Championship 2004. Their manager took an unfancied group of individuals, who no one believed had a chance, and he created a team with a plan, with a belief which went on to defy the odds and become European Champions.

That’s leadership, creating a team that through teamwork, exceeds it’s potential!

Gordon Tredgold

#Leadership Principles