High Performing Leaders and Making Good Teams Great
During a meeting I attended this week, the subject of high performing teams was raised and how difficult they are to create. “It’s actually really f**king hard,” was the actual wording used. In fact it was agreed that it’s hard enough to build a team that’s capable of performing averagely, let alone to an exceptional level.
So, how are great teams made?
Once again I am using football as my mechanism for exploring, but its world cup season after all so please bear with me!
In terms of the most recent season in the Premier League it’s hard to argue that Manchester City were anything but exceptional this year. They ran away with the league this year losing only 2 games and playing some of the best football ever seen since the Premier League began. Not only did they win the league they also won the League Cup and equalled their best performance in the champions league and broke multiple records including most wins, points, and goals in a single season.
So how did they do it?
High Performing Management
High performing leaders create high performing teams. Pep Guardiola can definitely be classed as a high performing leader. A proven success record at previous clubs, a clear philosophy of how to play, and the ability and desire to inspire people to deliver it. Having the right leader(s) with the right skills and passion to change and improve things will inspire a good team to become a great team.
Time and Backing
Great teams aren’t made over night. One training session didn’t suddenly turn Manchester City into a league winning team. In fact Pep’s first season in charge City won nothing. A first for pep and rare for the modern day City. However the city board had faith in his ability to change the way city operate and gave him the time to build the team he needed and the time to educate his players and change the way they behave on the pitch.
Recognising and nurturing talent
The easy criticism when it comes to Man City is that they bought their success. However that isn’t entirely accurate, yes they have historically spent large sums on top players but this hasn’t always delivered success. 9 of the regular players in the team this season were regular players last season when they won nothing. However over time Guardiola has worked with the team he inherited to make the most of the skills and qualities they possess. Raheem Sterling was transformed from a promising yet frustrating talent into a prolific game changer. Forgotten man Fabien Delph has been a revelation since Pep recognised his potential to play as an attacking full back.
So what can we learn as organisations from what Pep has done? How we can we apply the same lessons to our own teams?
- First find leaders with a clear vision of success and how to achieve it. Secondly remember that change takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a night and neither are great teams.
- It takes time effort to deliver change. Make sure you give your teams the time and support they need to embed new processes and culture.
- Finally, recognise and make the most of the talent you have. Your teams may not need a major overhaul; they just need some gentle guidance on how to improve or a slight role change to make the most of previously hidden strengths.
Will Pep and Manchester City be able to maintain their high levels and defend their title next season? Only time will tell. Or maybe I’ll be writing a blog post on how Gareth Southgate built a World Cup winning England team. Or maybe that is hoping a bit too much!
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