posted on | written by Jim Walsh
Football today is big business and the way clubs are managed and perform can have valuable lessons for every type of business.
But the rise of Leicester City to the top of the UK Premier League has a number of particularly important lessons for organisations.
Leicester City might not be top-of-mind for non-football followers who are more used to seeing Manchester Utd, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and maybe even Liverpool and Everton hitting the headlines. But all these teams currently trail behind Leicester City. One of its players, Jamie Vardy, has just broken the Premier League record by scoring in 11 consecutive games. Although I have to point out that he didn’t equal the record of Irishman Jimmy Dunne who scored in 12 consecutive games in the top division of English football in the 1930s, sixty years prior to the Premier League being created by Sky Sports in 1992.
So what can we learn from Leicester’s success to date?
One lesson is that you don’t have to be a flamboyant or aggressive manager to succeed. The Leicester City manager is Claudio Ranieri who was only appointed just before the 2015/16 season started. The quiet spoken and highly respected Italian is an experienced manager. Described by football pundits and his peers as a gentleman, he says that he motivates his players through the music of Kasabian, a Leicester award-winning rock band.
The second lesson from Leicester City and Ranieri is that it is not what you have, it is how you use it that is important, whether that is talent, data, likes or followers. In football there are those who believe that keeping possession of the ball is everything.
Yet Leicester has a worse possession record than most of the teams immediately below them and yet have only lost one out of fifteen games.
A third lesson is the importance of investing in talent to continue to make progress. Although Leicester clearly has some talented players, legendary Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson believes that the East Midlands’ club needs additional investment in players to win the Premier League this year.
But football is a more volatile game than business and with Leicester still to play 23 games, anything could happen, even with new talent.
At the end of the season, I might be revising the lessons and pointing out that unless you can deliver a consistently good service your competitors will overtake you and it doesn’t help to motivate your team with rock music!