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What Your Company Can Learn from Sports Management

27 November 2018

When it comes to management styles in the workplace, you’ll find a lot of people have a different idea of what a good or bad manager is. Some workers prefer the manager who constantly consults his staff before doing anything, and others prefer a no-nonsense manager that assigns tasks responsibly without slowing things down. Sadly, a lot of companies end up with a manager that doesn’t manage to identify with their team and gets it wrong.

Having seen the recent resurgence of the England football team from the doldrums of high manager turnover and consistent non-performance, is there something your company can learn from sports management?

Gareth Southgate, historically famous for pizza adverts and a missed penalty, has become synonymous with turning fortunes around for the England football team. The absolute answer of what he has done isn’t there, however there are some things that are very evident.

More than just footballers

England have been playing with humility, pride, passion and dare I say it even gentlemanly conduct. It is clear Southgate has managed to instill an idea that the players are merely a cog in something greater, goodness knows what that is for a player making in excess of £1,000,000/year, but it is clear Southgate has achieved it. Incredible achievement. In the early stages of developing Tribe365 we used to watch the England team and wonder what the Purpose was for the team; whatever it is, it is strong.

A team of leaders

There is not just one leader on that pitch, everyone is empowered to be a leader. Each player is making snap decisions and leading where they can, taking responsibility for their own area and showing that through the level of commitment in every stage of the game.

The Chieftain

Southgate has established himself as the ultimate ruler. He has made unpopular decisions which have been met with a lot of public discourse, yet they have gone through, he has remained calm and composed in the face of adversity and humble when his unpopular choices have paid off. Southgate has maintained a constant display of respect and agreeability with all which potentially might tie in with the ultimate purpose of the England team.


Everyone is an individual

Southgate has a very personable relationship with each player on the team, not only the players but everyone around him. This might suggest that Southgate has understood we all bring something different to the party and everyone has something they can contribute in their own way, and drawing that out in a pleasant way is more effective than any other mode.

Sports is all about performing at your very best, whether as an individual or a team, and anyone at international levels will already understand what skills are needed and have displayed them to some extent. Southgate understands this and looks more focused on setting the right connection between the players and direction within the team rather than the skills required to do the job. In addition his management of the wider stakeholder groups is a display of mastery.

Good sports management is all about positive reinforcement, encouragement and building confidence, which are equally essential parts of running a successful business. Happy, motivated workers can and frequently do work better. Business leaders should all be watching this masterclass display of turning it around and understanding what type of model can be extracted from this to apply within their own business.

It would be fascinating to get some time with Southgate and hear how much of our Tribe365™ programme was naturally incorporated into what he has managed to achieve so far and see whether anything we are looking at would add more value going forward.

Whether your manager is autocratic, democratic or just incompetent, they might be able to learn a thing from sports management. At The Change Consultancy, we’re focused on making company change a simple and understandable process. Through our services you may find yet more possibilities just waiting to be found in your workforce.

Oliver Randall

"People are the most important consideration in any change." (On Change) "We are focused on exploring the world of change and helping it develop. All our thoughts try to challenge the status quo and take Change to a clearer, faster initiative. We simplify change." (On TCC)