In the closing stages of the Semi Final match of Euro 2020 against Denmark, England made a whopping 53 passes to each other unlocking their ‘inner Brazil’. I appreciate not everyone is a football fan like me (so I thought post a link to ‘Pass Masters’ Euro 2020: England’s excellent game management as they close out Denmark win with 53-pass exhibition – BBC Sport for those who are). Even if you are not a football fan though, you can perhaps appreciate this is pretty amazing and … you may have heard of Gareth Southgate.
Everyone who I speak to (fans or not) seem to really like this football team and Gareth especially. Gareth missed a crucial penalty in Euro 1996 (something he gets reminded of all the time) but rather than crush him – which I am sure it did back then – he says that it has now helped him become a better Manager. It was not until I read this guardian article How England players went from being targets of boo boys to likable lads | England | The Guardian that I started to realise there is something about being in the compassionate leadership space that appears to drive not only the fan’s mentality -who get behind the team- but connectedness within the team which appears to be driving performance. Are we onto something here I wonder?
So what is the ingredient? Again referencing the Guardian article – these footballers are not just sports people they are campaigners for good. Ok they have their rogue moments (who doesn’t?) but recently we have Rashford’s MBE for the guarantee one meal a day for school children, the teams’ proactive stance against racism and engagement in LGBTQ+ issues as examples. Gareth has shown such leadership in getting this team to express emotion which helps reduce stigma around mental health. They are people voicing their opinions and advocates of positive change. I have long believed an open and connected team leads to better performance. Selfishly perhaps, I am driven by wanting my four year old son to grow up with ‘icons’ who understand the value of purpose. When he is old enough to work what mother, aunt, uncle, father etc…would not want a child to find a supportive environment they would need to thrive when they grow up?
So imagine how honoured I was to be invited by Garry Turner -the epitome of compassion- to take part in a linkedin live alongside some other really powerful voices in this space – Toni McLelland, Mike Vacanti and David St Martin. We will be discussing the Guardian article further and what it could mean for compassionate leadership and its relationship to organisational effectiveness. It is something this group has researched heavily so it is bound to be insightful.
Whatever the result of the match itself, I do hope you will join us and see what lessons can be learnt wider than football. Fingers crossed for Sunday though!