What can we retailers glean from Leicester City Football Club’s great success as Premier League champions? Plenty, I bet.
David and Goliath stories have attracted sympathy and support for the underdog since the days of… David and Goliath. This result, however, was not one single, fluke, smack-between-the-eyes slingshot. Rather, it was a whole season of growing success, playing 38 90-minute games of football in 19 different locations.
The parallels feel uncanny, since we shopkeepers mostly ply our trade in multiple locations too, and look for a winner every time.
The media have ceaselessly speculated on the reasons behind Leicester’s minor miracle, including the possible intervention of King Richard III after he was unearthed from a car park in the city in 2012 – and now, it is nice to know, reburied with dignity in its fine cathedral.
Others cite synchronised meditation by Thai Buddhist monks and the application of innovative sports science, from cryotherapy (ice chamber treatment, not tearfulness) to guzzling beetroot juice.
The explanations focused on motivation, management, commitment and work-rate are all concepts familiar to us retailers and clearly work dependent on how well implemented. For me, though, glaringly and blatantly, it is all about teamwork and leadership. The generation of chest-bursting pride, belief and a burning desire to work together unselfishly to win.
“For me, glaringly and blatantly, it is all about teamwork and leadership. The generation of chest-bursting pride, belief and a burning desire to work together unselfishly to win”
Teamwork that embraces not just the 11 blokes on the pitch, but the substitutes, reserves and all the back-up, everyone that makes the club tick – from scouts and kit-cleaners to owners and accountants.
So how do we get our own teams pulling together with a passion all in the same direction, achieving a result that seems greater than the sum of its parts?
I always carefully investigate teams and organisations that are not playing well together and try to analyse the reasons, with a view to learning what not to do.
In this context, Chelsea FC are a great example. It seemed to me that they stopped playing as a team earlier this season, ending with a sorry and sad result almost as extreme and unpredictable as Leicester City’s happy and euphoric one. Low in the League and lower in morale.
Some blame the previous Chelsea manager’s arrogance and insensitivity in bad-mouthing his squad. Maybe there is some truth in that, as humble Claudio Ranieri proudly and consistently talks his Leicester colleagues up, treating them with obvious respect.
Perhaps you can think of some retail bosses who could usefully take note?
Let us be boring and assume that two and two really do make four, and take a tip from Claudio and start to treat our teams – all the team, not just our top scorers – with some genuine regard and respect. Setting the standards and leading by example.
If you do not know what respect means, or what it looks like, then buy a book, research it online or maybe, on second thoughts, resign and look for a job that suits you better.
There may be an appropriate vacancy in the Newcastle region, searching for the remains of a deceased monarch somewhere in the St James’ Park area.
- Lord Kirkham is the founder of DFS