‘Epic! But what was your Mum doing there?’ exclaimed a friend of my daughter’s in barely disguised shock. ‘She knows nothing about football!’
And so it was, a few weeks backs, I was pinching myself at the UK launch of a long-awaited supercar surrounded by those at the very heart, one might say, of football, past and present and from sport, and the motor industry. Whilst I perhaps didn’t fully appreciate this until after some stealthy googling, I was indeed in the company of greats; players, managers, coaches, fans and the inimitable Jose Mourinho himself, the new UK ambassador for Jaguar.
Having a discussion with the former CEO of a Premier League football club was in itself fascinating and an honour, and a conversation ensued about leadership. That much discussed topic of leadership in sport and leadership in business. He was telling me about a football coach whose particular modus operandi was of two guiding principles; clarity & feedback. Clarity; what are our goals and aims for the next match and the season, and feedback: in the moment and definitely on the same day.
I’ll be surprised if anyone reading this doesn’t fully agree to being clear and giving clarity and focus at all times, especially when in a position of leadership. Most recognise the power of feedback and that it works exceptionally well both in sport and business. However, only a minority of companies do this really well, where feedback is a genuine part of their culture and the results speak for themselves in the business, and on the bottom line.
Feedback is often the once a year review (incidentally that’s not feedback), or it is feared , clumsy and ill-delivered, especially if it’s a difficult message.
With a modicum of practice, feedback can be one of the easiest, least complex and potentially game changing (forgive the pun) tools in your kit as a leader or indeed friend, partner, colleague or team mate. In this world of complexity, changing markets and an ever-developing customer and consumer, something easy and that works, is surely a good thing.
Feedback at best is clear, honest and specific. It is also frequent. The aforementioned CEO asked his coach why he always gave his players feedback on the bus on the way back from a game, even if it was difficult. His response, I like to start each day on a high and if that means challenging feedback at the end of the day that the action occurs, so be it.
‘Tis currently the season for company results and if this isn’t a good time for greater clarity and feedback to either grow and learn, or improve and vitalise performance, I don’t know when is.
Feedback is the breakfast of champions, as Ken Blanchard once said, and in the world of football I can see testament to that and perhaps the bridge between leadership in sport and business is closer than we think.
The V8, the stunning F-type R Coupe, metaphorically spoke for itself. Jose Mourinho, very much his own man, said “I know what I like and I know what I don’t. I like this.”
Enough said. Clear as day.
And if you’d like a little help with clarity for 2014, you know where we are. If, on the other hand it’s football advice you’re after, I know a man who can!
See you soon.