Learning a lot about leadership and teamwork from sports

July 2021

It’s been hard finding inspiration for my blogs during lockdown.  Deep thoughts normally come when being up high in the air, looking down on the world from a plane, and through unique cultural experiences during my travels.  But the 'Euro 2020' final was as good a time as any to get one thinking.

The day before the match, I watched the discussion between the England football manager and Mercedes F1 boss, where they talked about leadership.  It was expressed how authenticity was the one core value of a good leader.

And; an authentic leader naturally creates a better team.

Put into practice at this year’s tournament, the England team showed a “togetherness”, which several commented not to have seen in previous England football squads, combined with a genuine respect for their manager.

The authenticity point is important.  At Russell Bedford International we are currently going through a strategic review and, early on in that process, it was unanimously agreed that we can never, and should never, try to be something we are not.

Applying that to leadership means knowing your strengths and limitations; without allowing those limitations to restrict you in a way that stops you looking to better yourself and, in turn, your team and organisation.

Always trying to be oneself can often lead to being too open and honest; and letting one’s guard down.  But then, somebody who walks around constantly guarded will never be trusted.  So I prefer to work with such style of openness; with emotion and empathy also being values I hold as key to any authentic leadership.

I’ll admit that I can sometimes start a sentence and then realise I’m saying too much; speaking from the heart before running it past my head.  But I’ve always liked the motto ‘keep it real’, believing it’s important to express yourself passionately even if you’re not sure exactly where you may be heading with your comments.  Since, if you’re being true to yourself, you’ll end with conviction.

I can, however, stand on a stage, addressing 100+ people, and sometimes start to question if I am who they think I am.  This also happens when travelling around the world and being treated with such respect from people from different countries, whom I’ve never met before but who read what i write on social media, and are so excited and proud to be a member of our network.  It’s my small taste of celebrity but one which often greets me with a sense of vulnerability that makes me ask myself how I got to where I am.  But that’s different to trying to be someone you’re not.

So… what can we learn from this “football experience”?

Authentic leadership, collaborative team spirit, passion and determination, spurred on after 15 months of ‘low’ caused by a pandemic… and when it doesn’t quite go your way, focus on the positives, retaining that unity (you win together and you lose together), and look towards your next goal. (pun intended!)

They almost brought it home…

Now, in whatever you do, you must BRING IT ON!

Author: Stephen Hamlet

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