What you can learn from Leicester City’s Winning Culture
What one ESPN commentator recently called the “the most shocking underdog story in modern sports history” took place in the English Premier League last season.
Leicester City’s F.C., the Foxes, won the English Premier League. It was arguably the team’s biggest win in its 132-year history.
At the beginning of the season, odds makers placed the chances of Leicester winning the 20-team league championship at 5,000/1.
According to NBC Sports, Leicester stood a lower chance of winning the championship than:
The Cleveland Browns winning the Super Bowl at 200/1 The Loch Ness Monster being discover in 2016 at 250/1 The United States people electing Kim Kardashian to be their next president at 1,000/1.
Regardless of your feelings about football (or as we say where I’m from soccer), Leicester’s team, or sports in general, I suggest you take a few minutes to learn about the creation of a winning culture.
In their book, The Ultimate Competitive Advantage, my friends and colleagues, Shawn Moon and Sue Dathe-douglass, discuss the importance of organizational culture. As executives at the Franklincovey Company, Moon, Dathe-douglass, and their colleagues have spent over 30 years working with the most successful leaders, teams, and organization throughout the world. In doing so, they’ve determined that too many organizations leave creating their culture to chance. Whereas great cultures have four common characteristics.
1. Intentionally designed
2. Established framework
3. Common language
“Winning cultures are filled with superb people who deliver as promised time after time. They give you someone and something to trust. Winning cultures are unique, deliberately designed and maintained, and rare.” - Shawn Moon There are three components to the framework of a great culture. Allow me to explain each, discuss Leicester City’s situation, and invite you to answer questions about your own unique culture.
1. Effective Players
Great cultures have effective players or individual employees. They are strong communicators, possess needed capabilities, understand the big picture, work well with others, and posses a myriad of other desirable traits.
One authority on the sport wrote this about the Leicester City roster. “Maybe Leicester are an underdog in the Premier League, where huge television deals provide money clubs in the rest of Europe, even in the Bundesliga, simply don’t have. Yet, on a grand scale, this team possesses significant quality.”
Consider your organization:
Do team members effectively communicate and collaborate with one another? Do individuals possess needed skills and abilities? Does everyone understand how her or his role fits into the big picture? What should you do today to help your employees improve in the above listed areas?
2. Credible Leaders
Leaders are key to the development of a successful culture. Their ability to inspire trust, clarify purpose, align systems, and unleash talent is critical.
Leicester found such a leader in Claudio Ranieri. A former Italian player and manager, he was named Leicester City’s Manager in the summer of 2015. In one year’s time, he took the team from near relegation from the Premier Leagues roster to winning the league championship. Along the way, he was name Premier League Manager of the Season, LMA Manager of the Year, as well as, receiving the Grand Officer the Italian Order of Merit and the Enzo Bearzot Award as best Italian manager of the year.
Looking into Ranieri’s career, two things became apparent. First, Ranieri is a competent coach. With a string of successes and near successes throughout his coaching life, Ranieri is not an overnight success. He’s put in the hard build his capabilities and deliver results.
Second, he is a coach of high character who demonstrates integrity and strong intent. This quote sums it up well. “With typical good grace and a seemingly unshakable bond with his players... [Ranieri] has set about proving his critics spectacularly wrong.”
Consider your organization:
Do your leaders possess the necessary character and competence to inspire trust? Do leaders work to clarity purpose, align systems, and unleash talent? What should you do today to help your leaders improve in the above listed areas?
3. System of Focus & Execution
Credible leaders and effective players are necessary to building a winning culture, but they can prove insufficient without an effective system of focus and execution. There are plenty of high paying rosters throughout the sports world with losing records.
If you listen to Ranieri discuss the team’s performance throughout the season, he continually points to no just winning championships, but to his team relentless focus on understanding each opposing team, how to best play against each team, and the importance of executing the plan with excellence. According Ranieri, there is little room for Leicester City’s performance. While other teams win games by three of four goals, Ranieri’s victories are often one point margins. “We had to fight to win 1-0, so we must be focused.”
Consider your organization:
Does everyone know the organization’s goals? Is everyone clear on how to best accomplish the goals? Do they know their responsibilities on the field? Do you keep track of progress and hold each other accountable to commitments?
SUPERB PEOPLE: Winning cultures are filled with superb people who deliver as promised time after time. They give you someone and something to trust. Winning cultures are unique, deliberately designed and maintained, and rare.