Why World Cup-level victory requires ice cold leadership
As England fails (again) in its World Cup bid, Liam Black asks Jude: Do you really pay attention to who you are letting into your team – and are you sufficiently ruthless in removing those who don’t get it? Victory requires a sliver of ice in your heart...
Dear Jude –
So, England fail early (again) on the stage where it most matters. World-class performance is the ability to win on demand and sadly our national football team does not have it.
What creates and sustains winning cultures – in sport and business – and, conversely, what ensures mediocrity and failure is endlessly fascinating to me. And it should be to you too Jude because the extent to which you can create a winning culture is the extent to which your change the world aspirations will be realised. You can have all the vision and passion you like but when culture tackles strategy the latter always gets stretchered off!
Through Wavelength I have the great pleasure of getting inside some of the world’s most enduringly successful enterprises. Lego. IKEA, Four Seasons, Southwest Airlines, John Lewis Partnership, Aravind, Timpson. Their markets, business models and ownership structures are all very different but I do see many similarities in the ways their leaders behave. And I think there is much to learn from them Jude as you aim to grow your social business.
'Best in class' organisations have a strong and clearly articulated purpose, their leaders are aligned behind that purpose and ensure that there are structures and processes in place that embed that purpose. They don’t rely on wish lists and will power. They drive for ruthless operational excellence based upon an intimate knowledge of their customers.
Are you sufficiently ruthless in removing those who don’t get it? It is not easy to do and it requires a sliver of ice in your heart.
They're much less willing to compromise than competitors on who they hire and they are very explicit about the deal they offer. This is an area where I think social enterprise leaders really need to focus. So many of them tell me that what stops them becoming genuinely world beating – in housing, healthcare, youth work – is the misalignment between them and so many of their employees and senior managers. I sometimes feel like a counsellor as I listen to the litany of woes around so many of their people not 'getting it' – specifically not getting the need for laser like customer focus or the urgency of innovation.
So, Jude do you know the sorts of people you want and need to join you? Do you really pay attention to who you are letting into your business? Are you sufficiently ruthless in removing those who don’t get it? It is not easy to do and it requires a sliver of ice in your heart. But if you don't you will fail and you will have to walk off the social enterprise pitch looking every bit as beaten and disappointed as Rooney and Stevie G did in Brazil.