A basic formula for success...
This last week, the sports news in the UK has been dominated by Leicester City’s remarkable Premier League success. A club that seemed to come from nowhere, with an unassuming manager have come top of one of the toughest football leagues in the world, and everyone is delighted and surprised.
And yet, if you take some time to really look at what has happened, there shouldn’t be that much surprise but definitely a few lessons for some of the other better known elite Premier League clubs as well as any business or team out there.
Some of the basic lessons are as follows:
Shared vision, hunger and desire
Although Ranieri has done his job as a leader and kept the pressure from the media about winning the league off the players, they were all hungry for it and all focussed on it. They dared to dream that it could happen. That is what kept them together playing with such hunger and passion. It was clear to them, I am sure, that this was possible and that if they all worked for it, it would happen. I am also sure that this was Ranieri's goal, but as a leader he needed to keep his team focussed on winning one game at a time towards the title.
Team, team, team
It seems obvious doesn’t it? We are talking about football teams? And yet in the modern game we seldom talk about teams and often talk about personalities and individual players. At Leicester, it was all about the team and how together they could succeed. Once they won all that could, went to Vardy’s house for a party to celebrate what they had achieved together. Ranieri has since been very clear that he does not want to sell anyone, but that if any of the players feel that Leicester is not the place for them, then they should go. You need your people to want to be there with you, otherwise they will not be as effective as they can be.
Lead don’t manage
Ranieri was taken on at Leicester but with little expectation it seems from within and outside, that he would achieve much. Ranieri first integrated himself in the team. He knew that his predecessor had created something at the end of the last season that didn’t need to be changed, it needed to be built on, so that is what he did. There were plenty of people at the club to do the doing, he needed to make sure that the team had a leader that they could believe in and work with. I loved watching the post match interviews with him. He never engaged in the usual talk about bad decisions, he never spoke for individuals in his team, he always focussed on the results and what he and the team needed to do next.
Play to people’s strengths
Did this mean that individuals didn’t stand out? Of course not. Ranieri uncovered individual and team strengths and played to them. His strength as a strategist and tactician also came to the fore, and gained him the respect of the team. In turn he ensured individual talent could also shine, but always in service of the team and the greater goal, rather than the individual. And this extended to the much wider team that is a football team - trainers, doctors, scouts, etc. Everyone had a part to play and he enabled them all to do their jobs and do them well.
The players trusted the manager and the manager trusted them. The players trusted each other to come through and do their best. After the loss against Arsenal in the last minutes of the game, Ranieri gave the players a week off to relax and think about other things other than football. They all came back hungrier than ever for a win.
Ranieri kept his team engaged in all manner of ways, including having injured players pitch side at training on exercise bikes so that they could stay with the team and listen to the plan for the actual match that they would play in, without aggravating their injuries. He provided pizza and ensured that the mood was light and fun as well as focussed. He’s known to have a warm and infectious personality which will have created a warm and fun place to work. This will always have the result of getting the best out of the people you have working with you.
There are many more lessons I am sure, that will come out over the next few months, but if you just focus on those I have highlighted here, that will be a good start on your road to success.