I am sure many blogs have been recently written with the World Cup as a theme, and so in the spirit of ‘fellowship’, I will do exactly the same. Leadership of course is never a role to be underestimated, although sometimes difficult to articulate why. Very often people might say, ‘But really what difference can one person make? Especially when they take over a team who already know what they are doing? That have been doing the same things for years, each of have their own recognised and established role and the strategy has not changed?’ I have never seen this as being as evident as when Alex Ferguson left Manchester United. I was actually quite surprised that the team, despite knowing and playing with each other, very often for years, still stumbled, and fell. And yet, with the new incoming manager, who did well as the Manager of Holland in the recent World Cup, maybe the team will rally again, energise, and perform.
Ultimately, therefore the impact of a good leader is evident. Of course we could attribute a dip in performance to the fact that there had been a change, a new significant member which catapulted the team back to the storming phase of the team dynamic. These are all possibilities but the feeling is the influence of one leader was significant but the influence of the other leader was not.
This provided consideration for the importance of a leader who is possibly not there, at least all the time. In the age of multi-site, multi-location and international organisations, how can we ensure the presence of the leader is felt, even when they are not physically present? Seemingly, this presence does need to be felt. So the possibility of visits, where possible, might be considered, communication via technological means might certainly be used. Ultimately regular communication in whatever form must continue. Otherwise the clarity of message that comes directly from the leader is diluted, translated weakly by transmitters less articulate, resulting in a message that has been amended, tweaked, changed by the time it arrives at the door of the final recipient. The meaning, and impact, will have subtly changed.
What is also interesting however is the impact of the ‘significant individual’. Although this is commonly thought to be just the leader, very often other people in the team can robustly demonstrate leadership behaviours. Actually we sometimes talk about leaders being the only ones that need to demonstrate role modelling behaviour, but actually everyone needs to demonstrate the majority of good leadership behaviours, such as the ability to communicate, influence and build relationships. The impact of the significant ‘non-leader’ was also demonstrated within the football world. When Neymar, and even, dare I say it Suarez, left their team. Regardless of the external impression, their own team, and country, validated their presence as significant to the success of the team. When they left, so there teams also left the World Cup.
The importance of the ‘non-leaders’ as significant individuals, can also be seen in the Tour de France. Although one person is elected to be the leader, the other individuals step up at various times. It’s almost as thought the role of leader is rotated, they are all on relay unit the final stages when the ‘leader’s leader’ emerges to win, on behalf of the team. Here is an excellent example that demonstrates not only the role of leader, but also the role of switching that position; the importance of the team. Every person is critical to the team’s performance and every person has a chance to be a leader.
Maybe leadership can be moveable feast. That one person is elected but the domain of leadership behaviours does not just stay with that one person but is actively encouraged for all to experience.