Here at Pro-Development we regularly ask leaders, ‘why should anyone be led by you?’. This can be a scary question, but in the same way that Gareth Southgate needed the England team to follow him, we need our people to follow us. Goffee and Jones carried out extensive research in this area and found that, in addition to vision and energy, leaders need 4 other qualities. What are they, and how do you and Southgate measure up?
First, inspirational leaders selectively show their weaknesses. Following the semi-final defeat, Southgate admitted that the England team are not in the top 4-5 in the world yet. He has been very honest about the weaknesses of the team as a whole and the work they still need to do together without singling anyone out for praise or criticism, it’s all about the team.
Inspirational leaders dare to be different, Southgate openly hugged his players, demonstrating that he really cares for them as people. He doesn’t stand on the touchline and shout at his players, he speaks quietly and trusts his players to execute his plans, very different from the shouty, aggressive approach of some ‘old style’ football managers.
Leaders who are inspirational demonstrate ‘tough empathy’. They empathise and care intensely about their people and the work they do. Southgate released Fabian Delph mid-tournament so that he could attend the birth of his third child. Tough empathy can include having the courage to let people go in a sensitive way, he was not afraid to drop experienced players such as Wayne Rooney. Inspirational leaders also rely heavily on intuition and collect and interpret soft data. Southgate consoled the Colombian player Uribe after his missed penalty. In his team’s moment of triumph, and his personal redemption, Southgate displayed an understanding and empathy that is often lacking in football.
To what extent do you selectively show your weaknesses, dare to be different, demonstrate ‘tough empathy’ and use your intuition? If you need help in developing as a leader or manager, our management development programme and coaching will help you to develop and grow your unique abilities as a leader.
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