Always take the weather with you

It’s the morning after the night before.  England have lost on penalties in the final of the Euro 2020 football tournament and it’s raining stair-rods outside, entirely in keeping with the prevailing mood.

And yet, and yet.  In my very mixed emotions this morning, ‘Weather with you’ by Crowded House is playing on the radio, and I’m already reflecting on how this young team, led with decency, vision and compassion by Gareth Southgate, has ‘made the weather’, and brought so much joy and togetherness to our national discourse over the last month.
I don’t want to try and make immediate links to leadership and brilliant team working with clunky sporting metaphors, but it seems very clear to me that watching the England team in both interviews and in action on the pitch aligns with how we can effectively collaborate at work and achieve collective successes.  Some of the observations that resonated with me:

  • The Clarity of Purpose, based on personal Values that Gareth Southgate outlined ahead of the tournament, in his wonderful ‘Dear England’ letter:
  • The understated Trust that players demonstrated, knowing who was where at any one time, clear that each always had each other’s back
  • Celebrating Successes, the collective joy the players showed whenever anyone scored or delivered an incisive pass
  • Taking Responsibility for actions, and not avoiding the Accountability that comes with it – as Southgate said last night: “it’s down to me in relation to who takes the penalties”
  • Offering visible Support and Compassion.  As Luke Shaw said of his colleague Bukayo Saka when he missed the last penalty: “He is devastated. But the most important thing for us now as a team is to be there for him and give him a big hug and tell him to keep his head up. It is a penalty shootout – anything can happen.”
  • Celebrating Diversity in all its forms, acknowledging what every member of the playing and support teams brought to the England side, and the belief in Playing to Strengths, whether bringing in the creative maestro Jack Grealish to unlock the opponent defence, or holding faith in the rock-solid defence of Maguire, Stones and Shaw
  • Team ‘Huddles’ on and off the pitch, for shared problem-solving, motivational pep-talks, praising, and celebrating wins, however small

So, as we hopefully view this sporting tournament as a hugely encouraging step towards the World Cup next year, or even if we are not remotely interested in football, the team leadership questions that my experiences over the last month raise for me, are (with due thanks to Crowded House!):

  • How do you make the weather as a leader, or member of your team?
  • Would your followers and colleagues describe you as someone who ‘always took the weather with you’?
  • What do you need most now to take the sunny, uplifting weather with you?

Mark Greenfield