A shared vision with clearly defined goals are key to success – a lesson businesses can learn from the good, the bad and the ugly of our national sport.
Football Clubs where Board and Management work hand in glove to deliver long-term improvement often enjoy sustained success, while those where relationships are not supportive usually fail.
Market-leading management and leadership development consultancy The Leadership Factory has developed Goal! - a football-based programme designed to deliver high quality training in a fun and innovative way, with areas including teamwork, signing new talent, and motivation.
The Leadership Factory is Scotland’s fastest-growing consultancy specialising in Management and Leadership Development, and exceeded the £500,000 turnover mark in its first year of operation.
The two principals in the business, Brian Glennie and Andy Kelly, are highly experienced consultants with more than 30 years of high level experience. Both are also keen football fans.
Brian said: “We constantly hear how much football can learn from business practices, and indeed there is no doubt that our top clubs are, in general, nowadays run along much more businesslike lines.
“However there is also a great deal that businesses can learn from football, in particular the way in which professional football clubs can motivate, attract talent, and are required to quickly forge groups of individuals into effective teams or face drastic consequences.
“This programme taps into that expertise in a fun way to deliver training that is valuable and relevant for managers.”
In terms of demonstrating how shared commitment can aid a cause Brian pointed to the highs and lows of Gretna FC.
“In the beginning, as that small Club climbed through the leagues, its owner and backer worked very closely with the Manager. That saw them gain promotion season after season.
“Then there was a pubic falling out, the Manager was dismissed, and from there things seemed to unwind. The Club had achieved one major aim, to gain entry to the top flight, but once there the plan and will was not in place to sustain their lofty position. The rest, as they say, is history.”
Higher profiles exist south of the Border. Brian said: “There are classic examples in North East England. The Chairman of Middlesbrough, Steve Gibson, is well known for his support of his managers.
“As a result of this investment the club was able to win its first trophy in 128 years, the English League Cup in 2004. His tenure as chairman has also seen the club reach the UEFA Cup final, Europe's second biggest club cup competition in 2006.
“Steve Gibson is so solidly supportive of his club and his managers that Gareth Southgate's job has been described as the best in football. League tables and salaries might confuse that simple picture, but Southgate is not complaining.
“He has said 'I've got more belief in myself now. And the one thing I know here is that no one inside the club is against me. The whole club is very much united.'
“At Newcastle, the story has been very different. There is little doubt that Kevin Keegan was unhappy events relating specifically to the club’s transfer policy and the level of influence, or lack of it, he was afforded as manager.
“Over a matter of months, Newcastle's owner, Mike Ashley, had changed from the apparent dream employer into a virtual stranger. The resignation of Keegan was inevitable, and Newcastle remain without a trophy for decades and the perennial great under-achievers.”
Brian added; “Leadership is about setting the direction whilst allowing managers to implement the strategy on a day to day basis. Talented people are motivated by the need to be in control of their own destiny.
“Any Director/Manager relationship is based on trust and micromanagement by Directors invariably leads to an erosion of this trust.”