Gareth Southgate embodies many of the qualities and characteristics that we would hope to find in contemporary leadership: setting stretch targets, providing support for his players and staff, an emphasis on great communication; and a healthy dose of humility and vulnerability.
“As footballers we’re going to lose matches, we’re going to concede goals, but how we respond in those moments and how we react to these moments will determine how far we can go as a team.”
For those hoping to apply Southgate’s leadership techniques to their own management style (especially if England have great tournament!) a degree of caution might be appropriate.
Great leadership should be a cause for celebration, not imitation. We can admire the attributes and skills of others but attempting to imitate them will result in a weak pastiche of the real thing evident through ‘speaking in tongues’, leading to scepticism and ridicule.
The most authentic leadership styles are those forged through values-based principles and behaviours. It follows that what we admire most in others is likely to be based upon:
- values aligned to our own
- delivery in a convincing manner (leading the success of the organisation and its people)
Aspiring leaders cannot simply borrow or adopt the style of a successful leader in one context, and then supplant it for their own in a different context. However, what they can do, quickly and successfully, is measure the extant culture and values where they want to exercise influence against their own – for best fit.
This approach requires a disciplined capture of Organisational Data (OX) but the prize is worth the effort because people will always value the difference between purpose-driven, values-led authenticity, and the insincerity of pale imitation.
‘Come on England!’