It’s an important time of the year for many fans of Hearts, Hibernian and Rangers as they look forward with optimism to the new season ahead in the Championship.
Competition will be fierce on-the-field, but in the boardroom the stakes are also high as Ann Budge of Hearts and Leeann Dempster of Hibernian lead their respective clubs on new journeys. Rangers – currently led by Graham Wallace – began their journey back to the Premiership two seasons ago.
A change in leadership generates a mixture of optimism, apathy and fear amongst employees, suppliers, partners, stakeholders and others connected with any business. Football clubs are no different.
Ten important points linked to the role of each leader will determine the level of success enjoyed by the clubs’ in the coming season and beyond.
1. Steering an organisation on its unique journey is the biggest personal challenge facing all leaders. Although the end goal, the destination may stay the same, the conditions experienced on the journey will be different within six months and different again within a year. Navigating the constantly changing landscape has become the new core requirement of the 21st century leader. Great navigators become great leaders. Great organisations need great leaders.
2. Great leaders create great journeys that others want to be part of. Think of an entrepreneur or leader you most admire and you will find their success has always involved the participative experience of a great journey.
3. Great journeys start with the development of a vision for the organisation that inspires others to sit up and take notice. The prospect of ‘creating something special’ is hugely attractive. To say in the future ‘we built that’ is a powerful motivator for many individuals.
4. Great journeys have a clear purpose, identified challenges and a real sense of adventure. Work and support from others have a more significant meaning. Performance measures, revenue and budgets may dominate each leader’s focus but it’s the inspirational experience of the journey that helps to deliver the day-to-day performance needed.
5. Very few leaders have previous experience and knowledge of the ‘human performance’ dynamics involved on the journey. Every journey is unique and great journeys often involve asking others to take a ‘leap of faith’ in the leader and the possibilities which may exist for the organisation. Great leaders are comfortable with this and are happy to allow their decisions and actions to be used to establish their credibility, trust and confidence in others. Honesty, fairness and integrity are always central to how they conduct themselves.
6. Revolutions are often initiated by minority groups and momentum plays an important part in the success achieved on any journey. Great leaders understand this. Identifying and communicating the ‘size of the opportunity’ that exists for everyone connected with the organisation is important to enlisting an early and critical mass of supporters on the journey.
7. People engagement is vital to delivering performance. The role of the leader is not to create more followers but to create more leaders. We call them Cultural Architects – operating as informal leaders without authority – and the greater the number in and around the organisation, the more successful it will be. Identifying, recruiting and using them effectively are critical to inspiring others to commit to and support the journey.
8. Not everyone will get behind the new leader and Culture Assassins – individuals with a negative attitude towards the journey – can do a great deal of harm to the organisation. Listening to their grievances and using the supportive influence of the Cultural Architects will go a long way to changing the mindset and behaviour of the Assassin.
9. ‘Change’ is a natural part of any journey. However, great leaders use the ambitious destination and the sense of adventure to inspire people to change behaviour and perform differently. Too much emphasis on the need for change will destroy morale within the organisation and everyone connected with it.
10. A great journey is surprising to some people, challenging to many and rewarding to everyone. It is a dynamic and inspirational experience. It will involve setting and passing many milestones along the way. Celebrating each success, no matter how small it may be is an important aspect of a great journey.
Great journeys live long in the memory of those who participate in them. Great leaders recognise that ‘everyone dreams of being part of something special’ and that adventure, purpose, challenge, achievement and a sense of belonging are strong and effective drivers of people performance on the journey.
It’s worth remembering that leadership is defined by direction, influence and destination.
Success at Hearts, Hibs and Rangers may be measured by their performance on the pitch, but it’s the leadership performance emanating from the boardroom that will decide the fate in the coming season and the long-term future of each organisation.
The greatest journey will achieve the greatest result.
Best wishes on your journey, wherever it may take you.
ps. Building the Pyramid describes the challenges facing the Chief Executive on each club’s current journey and more importantly how the important themes including vision, strategy, engagement, values, culture and high-performance working can be tackled (excuse the pun) by using the winning formula. Special offers are available to visitors purchasing the book from this website.