Lessons From Pro Football Managers's On Managing Teams

What if everything you did at work was being reported and analysed…

in public!

Every decision was pulled apart in the media. Every failure was booed by tens of thousands of people. There was a running critique on social media.

When feedback is this immediate there is no hiding.

Two Football Managers shared how they manage pressure, ego’s and extreme competition. Clark Ray was sharing his parellel experiences in Manufacturing Companies. Together we tried to look for the universal leadership lessons.

The Panel:

Thomas Courts ex-professional footballer and Manager.

He led Dundee United into qualifiction for Europe and also managed Budapest Honved.

Tony Walmsley is an ex-Coach for Sheffield and Manchester United.

And Manager in the Australian A League, Chinese and Indian leagues. He now runs The Leadership Advisory.

Clark Ray until a recent accident consulted with Manufacturers using The 10th Man Principle. He now coaches Individuals using the same core principles.

Rob McPhillips host and creator of Unified, a program to unify teams.



Rob: [00:00:00] Rob my background is relationships. I realized that a great relationship is really a great team. And so it’s about being united. So now I work with teams on developing trust communication with the end goal of being a unified team. 

Tony: Tony Walmsley. I’m run the leaders advisory which has been culmination of almost a lifetime in football and a transition into business. I now operate with leaders and teams in dynamic, fast moving environments who. Really struggle with ultimately performance. I consider myself a performance specialist, so it’s taking the lessons from sport into any sort of environment where people come together to reach a mutually agreed objective and then find difficulty in how to navigate that.

Tony: And the more complex the environment, the happier I 

Rob: am.

Thomas: Yeah, my name is Thomas Courts. I’m a football head coach who has had a passion and obsession for football pretty much my whole life. 

Thomas: And at the early part of my career, I [00:01:00] spent 15 years in recruitment and latterly two and a half, three years in learning and development. 

Thomas: So when I was a frustrated head coach outside of the game, I was actually picking up lots and lots of skills that were going to be transferable to me when I eventually got into, the full time professional sport arena. 

Thomas: In terms of culture development personality preferences, team dynamics and throughout the course of this call, you’ll probably understand why Tony and I have developed a really strong relationship, friendship over the last kind of 5 to 10 years, because there’s a lot of kinship in terms of the way that we actually think about not only football, but people and developing high performance teams.

Clark: Hi all. Nice to meet you. So my name’s Clark Ray. I’ve worked for the last 25 years or so in manufacturing originally years ago on the shop floor, working in quality production based process engineering and that sort of thing. But over the course of the next sort of five to 10 years.

Clark: Getting more into organizational behavior, so training problem solving from an organizational point of view [00:02:00] on. 

Clark: Some of you may have seen from Rob’s post yesterday that I had an accident about four months ago that has actually caused me to go the reverse route. Rob’s taken, and I’ve gone from the big picture all the way down to just working one on one, certainly at the moment, anyway, because it’s next to impossible for me to spend any amount of time on the shop floor, which is where I prefer to be right in the middle of. 

Clark: I’ve spent the last sort of 15, 20 years, especially on the shop floor in the middle of the chaos while we implement change initiatives and that sort of thing.

Clark: And over the course of the last three to four months. I’ve literally just come out of that body brace that you saw in the video yesterday. And I’ve had to focus very closely on who my ideal customer is at the moment. And it’s great, actually, it’s been a a game changer for me.

Clark: I’m now working with one or more people, and there’s not that much difference between organizational behavior and people. We’re just as messy as individuals as we are as teams. 

Rob: Basically the idea of the call is in looking at teams so that the podcast is the unified [00:03:00] team podcast and it’s looking at how can we join together because I think, even from individually, when you look at marriages, more than half of marriages fail 70 percent of business partnerships fail.

Rob: Whatever we do, when, whenever we join with people, we find it difficult to, there’s always a breaking point where conflict breaks down the relationship. And I think there’s no better example than a sports team and football is the most definitely in our part of the world is the most reported on. It’s the easiest to see the dynamics and the results are clear. There’s so much pressure. between one team and another, it seems to me that how unified you can make it is a great advantage.

Rob: When you look at the difference between Liverpool, Man City it’s such fine margins and there’s such pressure that I think there’s a lot of lessons that we can learn. 

Rob: Clark and I are enthusiastic amateurs, observers. But you two Tony and Thomas, you’ve lived the dream.

Rob: Football’s been your. [00:04:00] profession, you’ve reached the highest levels. Now both of you have business and football backgrounds, so I’m interested to learn what are those transferable skills? And what can we learn that we can translate to manufacturing service or any other team from your experiences in in football teams? 

Tony: Interestingly, Clark, Predominantly, my core customers at the moment are in manufacturing and when I first transitioned out of football, I went into a sort of technical supply chain maintenance environment.

Tony: So I went from managing a football team to as part of my learning and development journey, managing a team of rail maintenance fitters to improve. standard work procedure. 

Tony: So when I was, I was a Man United fan I’m in Liverpool underneath the massive diesel train, trying to help five different shifts of Scousers be better at fixing trains.

Tony: I knew when I was under a big train and a hard hat that I was definitely transferring skills at that point. [00:05:00] But to go back to the question, if I start with this. 

Tony: I’ve been a manager from day one, building a club from scratch.

Tony: I’ve also been a manager that’s gone into a new environment on the back of somebody else losing a job. Two very different situations, but regardless of that, the point that I, at first contact, if I assume that everything that I am is going to be well received by this group of Diverse complex individuals that stand in front of me.

Tony: I’ve already lost half the room before I’ve even realized it and the potential at that point is terminal, potentially. So when it, I think it’s easy to look at it from the outside and. and see the football merry go round as it’s just business as usual. It’s just normal. Coaches go in, they take their staff with them.

Tony: It worked in club A, let’s transfer it to club B and suddenly it doesn’t work. So they take the same persona, the same methodology, the same people and expect it to be transportable from one to another without any difference. And of course we see this [00:06:00] big shift. It’s managers suddenly get fired upon, fired, just doesn’t work.

Tony: A lot of that is down to this real intimate lack of understanding of the differences that are happening right in front of us. Not just those that we can observe, but those that we can’t. And the more that we get visibility and understanding of what’s going on an individual level the better chance we’ve got of addressing them.

Tony: At the place where they want to be addressed. So instead of me going in and saying, here I am, this is what I do. This is what we’re doing. . It’s more of a two way exploration of where we can go together. I think 

Clark: just make a point on that, Tony. I think you right back at the beginning of what you were saying, you just said something I had to write it down because I think you hit something that for me is probably the core of a lot of the issues that we face as organizations.

Clark: Obviously, I come from an organizational background and a lot of the a lot of the work that I did in manufacturing, I always refer back to, I was in the military for some years. So that’s a culture if you like. Okay. Of how teams should [00:07:00] be, according to the philosophy that the military in this country espouses, obviously you said something at the beginning there about how you were helping these guys to work with standard work, standard operating procedures and so on.

Clark: It’s the very first thing that I ask myself when I’m working with any originally with organizations, but now with people, what’s the standard when you say that we’re, we have a problem compared to what, what, where are you now? And where do you think you should be?

Clark: And how do we close that gap? 

Clark: And really, the more important questions for me are how do you know you’re there? 

Clark: How do you know you’re as good as you? 

Clark: There was a factory I worked at in the Midlands, where I stood watching this assembly line for about three weeks. And then I spoke to the supervisor and the guys that work there and said, so what do you guys think you’re accomplishing at the moment?

Clark: They were outputting certain machines over the course of a day. And what they told me was completely different to what I was seeing. And that you think you’ve got isn’t the problem. So the place you’re trying to get to is the wrong place. So for me, that’s an absolutely crucial. question.

Clark: What’s the [00:08:00] standard? What’s the benchmark? And it really feeds into culture, doesn’t it? 

Clark: When Rob was talking about football, I was thinking of the Claudio Ranieri, Leicester team, that was really a team of individuals working together. It was a culture that you could see, and that doesn’t seem to have translated anywhere else.

Clark: So it, it really depends what you’re walking into and what the standards are. As you quite rightly say, if you go in there thinking everything’s fine. You’re already working with one hand, so I’ll be coming to you back. 

Thomas: Yeah, good observation. I think that’s a really interesting point, actually, Clark, because something that Tony and I speak about, and it’s a fundamental belief of mine, is that the diagnosis as a head coach is really important, and Tony and I have been exploring ecological dynamics recently, which is a coaching, learning theory, transfer of learning, and shifting the role of the head coach and the manager as someone who imparts knowledge to that of the problem setter, the challenge provider, and then allowing the discovery on the training pitch to come from [00:09:00] how skillfully you can create sessions.

Thomas: The step before that, and I use something called the solstac model. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it before. I’ve also designed a diagnostic over the years because I think that temperature check, that, that look under the bonnet of a business, of a football club to actually understand where are they just now, because every situation is unique.

Thomas: So the situation, where are we? the objectives, where do we want to be, the strategy how are we actually going to get them there, and then it starts to talk about tactics what specifically needs to be done, what priorities of action will we commit to, and then how will we monitor and control and ensure that we’re actually making progress.

Thomas: That’s something that I really fundamentally believe in because if every leadership opportunity, whether it be in business or in football is unique, that diagnosis process and however you go about getting to the right temperature, then you can actually decide what leadership tools you’re going to take out of the [00:10:00] toolbox, how you’re actually going to make discriminating choices.

Thomas: Leadership in general, it’s a big game of snakes and ladders, and I’m sure at times in our leadership careers, we’re navigating our leadership career and we’re getting promoted and salaries are improving, and then we actually make either the wrong choice or for whatever reason we underperform, and then we slip back down to a point that’s either maybe in our control or it’s out of our control.

Thomas: When I think back to my 15 years as a recruiter, I was picking up a lot of skills around asking open questions because as a recruiter, you only want to be talking for 15 percent of the time. So if you start off every conversation hoping that the other person is going to do two thirds of the talking as a benchmark, you start to get an understanding of body language and voluntary reactions.

Thomas: You start to understand their hopes and their fears and their aspirations. That all then really starts to become powerful because you [00:11:00] have a part to play in helping these people get to where they need to get to. If a player tells me that I want to reach the English Premiership, and another player tells me look, I’m just looking to get my next contract, then I’m going to retire.

Thomas: The leadership approach to both of those players are completely different, because the necessary demands for the highly aspirational player means that you really need to give him a diet, or her a diet. that is commensurate with helping the player, close the capacity gap. So for me, there’s a lot of parallels between business and football management.

Thomas: It’s difficult to talk about them too often, though, because football fans see the game, and rightfully in quite a simplistic way. It’s very tribal, and you don’t actually want to hear the head coach and manager talking about Sostac models and all of these types of things. So you have to develop a way of actually keeping that under the radar, but you are absolutely using these models and having the quality conversations, [00:12:00] and it’s why I’m grateful for having people like Tony really close to me to share some of these conversations with. 

Rob: I love all the the way that the conversation’s gone, because this is exactly what I’m trying to do with relationships. I look at relationships in the same way that 300 years ago, like when there was a plague, everyone thought it was miasma or they thought it was a curse from God or a witch’s curse.

Rob: So we had no idea how to treat it. And now we understand germ theory. We’re able to look and we’re able to diagnose and we’re able to. prescribe the exact right antibiotic or whatever treatment. And in relationships, if you look at how people talk about them, they’re talking about finding the one or Cupid’s arrow and all of these kinds of things, which are very vague.

Rob: And there’s nothing that you can actually deal with. And so for me, it’s about benchmarking relationships within a team and being able to diagnose what is good, what is off. And that, so it’s really one thing I want to ask from that is, is you said Sostac? 

Thomas: Yeah, [00:13:00] SOSTAC

Rob: Relationships are one area and I think the more that we can have that diagnosis. The more we have control over it. I think it’s really key as well about the culture at different managers work at different cultures.

Rob: You can see that in the football context. I think you were about to say something Clark, 

Clark: I’m literally just responding to the stuff that you guys are saying, because it’s fascinating that we’re clearly talking around the same subject, although potentially from different directions, but you talk about this idea of how we, we used to think that it was the vapors or miasma or whatever you called it, where we get diseases from.

Clark: And now we know, right? 

Clark: Now we know how diseases work. That’s the bit that amazes me because I did a post yesterday and I do this stuff on purpose because I bit of a dick. I put a post out yesterday about how we it’s. It’s quite right that we should look at some of the psychological aspects of these things, but I think it’s a little bit misguided to think that these things are the answer.

Clark: I put a post out yesterday talking about how we should make the unconscious conscious. Talking from a one to one psychoanalytical. Interview and I got some [00:14:00] interesting answers and some people say, that’s right how’d you go about it? And my answer is well, is it right?

Clark: It’s just what we think at the moment It’s just you know, we were talking about miasma and vapors years ago. Now, we’re talking about the conscious and the unconscious And they can both be absolute nonsense, who knows, at some point in the future, we may come up with an even better answer. And I always think it’s a mistake to think that you’ve got the answers.

Clark: Tony said right at the beginning, if you go in there thinking that you know what’s going on, you’re already in trouble. And, I often ask people how do you know? How do you know? There’s a thing that we used to have in manufacturing called jump into solutions.

Clark: Which you’ve probably all heard, the people see a problem and they diagnose it immediately. It’s this, so we’ll do that. What a nightmare that can turn out. 

Clark: Sometimes you’re lucky and that unfortunately reinforces the bad behavior. But nine times out of ten, somebody in the room is sitting there thinking, Oh no, that’s not good.

Clark: And you’ve already then got some disunity within the team. 

Clark: So it’s fascinating this idea of diagnosing because how do you do that? And I [00:15:00] think it’s great to start, and I always do this when I’m working with teams or with people, when I ask people, how do you know? 

Clark: I’m not assuming that I do know. I don’t. I think I know. I’ve got some good ideas. I’ve spoken to some really clever people. They’ve told me some different ways of doing things. But we’re really just, it all, the answer is always it depends. It depends on the problem.

Clark: It depends on the people that we’re working with, but I always have the belief that the person or the organization or the team has the resources within it to solve its own problems. We just don’t know what they are just yet. That’s what this conversation has to be about, 

Rob: right? 

Tony: That prompts me to zoom in on a football situation changes second by second, right? So every time the ball moves a collective group of people have to make a conscious choice about what they’re going to do next. Me as an individual. Where’s the ball? What’s my job? Am I closing down?

Tony: Am I covering someone? And it’s got to happen collectively. If we’re going to score a goal, it has to be alignment in such a short space of time of ideas and action needs to be [00:16:00] perfect. Otherwise, at the top end of the game, it just doesn’t happen. Things break down, so it breaks down repeatedly.

Tony: This idea that Clark, you were talking about, this jumping to It’s individual, independent choice to go and take action that might come at a significant cost down the line that you didn’t think it through. Or you were too spontaneous. Or it was never on in the first place. You weren’t competent enough to do what you thought you could do.

Tony: There’s all these things going on that could go wrong. It happens in football all the time. The classic one of, I’ve got the ball. I think you’re going to make the run. I play it, but you didn’t make the run. I thought that was a brilliant pass. You didn’t even think it was a run worth making. So just two people can get it wrong so many, so frequently.

Tony: So I think what Thomas and I talk about a lot is interdependence. In the decision making on the pitch, you need a group of people who actually are conversant enough in the idea and the intention to recognize that actually, right now in this moment in time. This is the optimum pass to make, these are the optimum runs to make. These are the optimum positions I need to take up just in case it [00:17:00] goes wrong.

Tony: So you get this when it’s at its most beautiful, the game looks like it’s so easy. The Barcelona going back a few years, it was just, Manchester City now, it’s on another It’s on another plane. And you throw that into a leadership team or a management team in a business.

Tony: The speed of decisions is not happening as quick. The changes are not coming as quick and fast as they are in football, but the independent choices that people make without getting the alignment on it. Is, am I making the right choice here? Let’s go and explore it. The silos that have formed so people resist having those conversations, cost businesses so much.

Tony: They cost relationships within teams, up and down the line, cross functionally. There’s all sorts of problems going on. In a football environment, you train, you come back, you train. I’ll leave it there, because I know Thomas can jump in on this. He speaks really fluently about it. But that idea of independence versus interdependence, is I think exactly what we [00:18:00] in our best state as coaches or managers or leaders.

Tony: We are getting people aligned on intention and then skilling them up to maximize opportunities whenever they present themselves. 

Thomas: I think it’s perfectly put, Tony, and I think we’re actually trying to do all of that whilst our own landscape has changed. 

Thomas: When I was on the ProLicense recently, Tony Pulis was one of the guest speakers, and they had a really diverse mix of, expert speakers from Arteta, Michael Beale, Tony Pulis, Russell Martin, and we even had Carlo Ancelotti, so there’s a real breadth of expertise and experience. 

Thomas: But something that Tony Pulis said is. When he got his first big role in, in football, the first year was essentially to diagnose.

Thomas: So lots of time, don’t need to make any quick decisions. 

Thomas: Second year was the starting of you putting your ideas into the team. 

Thomas: And then the third year was the acid test of whether or not you would make it as a manager.

Thomas: Now we’re probably operating in an environment where a seven [00:19:00] game cycle can decide whether or not you stay in a job or come under extreme, intense scrutiny.

Thomas: So the diagnosis itself for me is really important because again maybe 80 percent of the diagnosis that you’re doing is actually going to go unchallenged, it’s just going to be something that again from a temperature check perspective, you’ve spoke about. Someone else has noticed something, someone else has actually contributed to an idea about a relationship that could be harmonized together, because I think all too often Coaches and managers often think about their needs, about how they want the team to play.

Thomas: Where I think Tony and I come into it a little bit differently in terms of, Damien Hughes’s statement around performance leaves clues. 

Thomas: What we want to know as well, what evidence is on the pitch, what are we going to measure, and what priorities are we going to decide upon so that we’re always going to stay ahead of that seven game curve, because as a leader in the football industry, [00:20:00] and very unlike in business, We make people redundant every single week by not selecting them in the team, or even at times selecting them to be on the bench.

Thomas: So culturally that creates a really big shift every single week because there’s never once, and I don’t know if Tony can concur with this, but there’s never once where, A player has come to me and said, look, Gaffer, you’re right, I don’t deserve to play this week. Every single player thinks they deserve to play.

Thomas: The emotional contract that I think you’re signing with players, and this is something that just fits my personality, it suits my principles and values. But if a player has played for me one week and I’m not going to pick him in the 11 the following week, I always speak to him before I name the team.

Thomas: And that’s just my way of actually turning anger into disappointment. Because I think with footballers and professionals in general, I think if you’re honest with them, you’re authentic, they know your intentions are honourable. I think players at least then [00:21:00] will be disappointed.

Thomas: But then there won’t be an anger out on the training pitch, and at least then they will commit to being a professional on the pitch, whereas in business and the protection of HR and probably the ramifications of performance on a day to day basis and in the normal business environment.

Thomas: It’s not tantamount to making people redundant, whereas a poor training session or a poor attitude in football can essentially make you redundant for that week.

Rob: There’s a couple of great points there. 

Rob: One I’d like to ask is about in, in terms of the diagnosis. So Thomas and Tony when you go into a new position, you’ve got seven games to make that difference and you need to know who’s on board, who’s not, what do you, what are you looking for that diagnosis?

Rob: That’s a great 

Tony: question. I’ll think about that while Thomas answers. The reason I say that is because I’m longer out of the game. I’m still managing in the game. I’m managing in the elite women’s pyramid as a volunteer coach, so it’s a semi professional environment, but there’s no money changing hands.

Tony: It’s my way of keeping in touch with the [00:22:00] game, sharpening my toolkit, applying different principles that I’m using in business, and seeing if what works in football, does it work in the same way. 

Tony: I’ll get to my response shortly, but the things that I want visibility and understanding of are things that we can’t see.

Tony: So I want to get close enough to understanding the individuals within the team from an instinctive motivation, intrinsic motivational level. I want to know what makes them tick. I can only do that by assessment or by asking the right questions. 

Clark: Can I ask a supplementary question to your question, Rob?

Clark: I’m hoping that Thomas will be able to answer this as he gets into your answering your question. I was just thinking about do you make a diagnosis? 

Clark: Having started in manufacturing, predominantly in the quality and continuous improvement arena back in the day it’s all about problem solving.

Clark: And I think I’ve mentioned to you before, Rob, that in manufacturing, as you guys know, the problem solving is its own discrete discipline. It’s a part of the manufacturing process because obviously if a product goes out the door with a defect, You don’t want that defect repeating and every [00:23:00] single thing that comes out the door.

Clark: And so in the problem solving arena, I have often found myself asking, and it’s probably now my first go to question is, if this is a problem, we’ve decided this is a problem. And the first. 

Clark: Part of solving a problem is defining it, but having done that, we now have to ask ourselves was there a process to achieve this particular standard that you’re trying to achieve and did you follow that process?

Clark: And if you didn’t, why? 

Clark: And if you did, and it didn’t work, why isn’t it working? 

Clark: And it revolves predominantly for me these days around processes. And I’m fortunate to. I’ve been a long suffering Aston Villa fan for the last 40 years, 40 odd years. And we’ve now got a really interesting manager that’s just come into the organization and, rumours being the people that they are, we think that we’re going to win the World Cup.

Clark: We were going to win everything. We’re in fourth and we’re disappointed already. But it’s interesting to see this guy come into the organization because he came in clearly with a pre set process and you could tell he was saying to the fans, he was saying to [00:24:00] the owners, and he was saying to the team.

Clark: Trust the process. Trust the process. 

Clark: And most people do. It seems to me that he’s sold people on this process because clearly it’s working. And I’ve often had conversations with business owners because they talk about the culture. We need to change the culture because the behavior is wrong. And I say no.

Clark: Change the behavior. Then the culture will change. 

Clark: The thing then is if you change the behavior, The culture will change automatically because you’re changing the behavior according to your processes. And I was just wondering when you talk about diagnosis, Rob Thomas, is that the approach that you guys follow?

Clark: It seems that you have some sort of a process. you try to work to and try to get people to buy into from marketing. 

Thomas: It’s actually a really good point about Unai Emery and I think we can actually probably cover that in this answer. And I think one barometer of that clarity for me is He actually has his own dedicated staff.

Thomas: So you typically find head coaches and managers that will only take on opportunities if they can bring their people, [00:25:00] have a robustness of process, of approach of methodology. And it’s almost like plug and play. As soon as we come in from day one, you’re going to see and feel quite a significant shift.

Thomas: And the second part of the question, and I’m sure we’ll cover that as we start to discuss, at the start of my career as a manager, I was given the responsibility of taking over a team as a player manager, and we hadn’t won a competitive game for 20 games. So if you can think about that, even from a football fan, how the fans are feeling, how the players are feeling, how me as a 32 year old, probably still one of the better players, the captain.

Thomas: now the leader of trying to re navigate, that this team towards a better performance. And then I actually looked at my own personality preferences because I was immersed in that environment. So highly extroverted, high levels of What insights talk about is fiery red energy. So we know that’s very purposeful, very demanding on a bad day.

Thomas: It could be [00:26:00] overbearing. It could overly scrutinize, and you could actually lose a dressing room on some of those bad day behaviors. So recognizing that I actually just started on an Excel spreadsheet looking at performance because if performance leaves clues. 

Thomas: I think the first thing that the head coaches in the football industry have to do is get clarity on the brief because head coaches these days are a disposable commodity and you could argue that it’s now a diminished role from the Sir Alex Ferguson days where these guys were All seeing, all powerful.

Thomas: Now they’re just a really important cog in the wheel. Getting access and clarity on those priorities, I think for me is really important. Some clubs will want you to be involved in developing academy players. The cup runs will be important. Playing style will be important. How you develop relationships internally will be important.

Thomas: Other clubs And I would imagine that these will be in the minority. They’ll just want results. They’ll just want us, to [00:27:00] get up the league. So that’s completely fine. Because as a head coach, if you can get clarity on what the brief is. Then you can actually then go about diagnosing and that the first point for me is always actually looking at the performance of the team in terms of what you’re inheriting.

Thomas: Is there any themes? Is there any trends internally and externally? How are you going to cultivate a message? Because what you see internally, as you know from business and what you see externally, whether it be to stakeholders, investors. It might be a little bit different. And I always feel that storytelling, and it’s something that Tony’s really exploring and exploring through me just now, the ability to hook people to a story.

Thomas: So for example, if you take over a team that is at the end of that 7 8 match cycle, and you’ve got the benefit of new head coach thinking, And you’re thinking, man, we’re in a relegation battle, and you actually, through the evaluation and the diagnosis of the team, are able to say, do you know [00:28:00] something?

Thomas: See, last year, you were actually in the exact same position, and it’s a historical trend that this team takes a lot of time to get going, but once they do get going, by the end They’re usually competing for a playoff position. 

Thomas: Now that’s a hypothetical example to fit my narrative here, but straight away from that under the bonnet, under the iceberg diagnosis, you’re actually able to take a group of players that Tony was alluding to earlier thinking, okay, Mr. Head Coach, what is it that you’re going to impart onto me? 

Thomas: Are we going to agree after this meeting to move forward? 

Thomas: Or are you still going to have to convince me? 

Thomas: That storytelling element for me is actually really important to actually hook the players and actually give them an indication that you take a long term approach and that you actually have solutions in mind for this apparently problematic situation.

Thomas: And then the second thing that I like to do. 

Thomas: Because football clubs are exploding with expertise, which is a challenge in itself, I think there has to be tools to very [00:29:00] quickly get an understanding of how competent are these players. 

Thomas: And also from a cultural perspective, who actually fits with our current predicament and also where it is that we want to go.

Thomas: And it’s not to say that if someone is highlighted as a maverick or a problematic character that we’re going to ostracize them. 

Thomas: But it’s actually something that needs to be either addressed or we need to go looking for more evidence. 

Thomas: So this diagnosis process for me is really critical in terms of benchmarking, which then informs the types of sessions that we put on, benchmarking to inform one to one group and unit conversations, and also to actually understand how the squad has actually been designed. 

Thomas: Because at Dundee United, We wanted to develop and trade assets, therefore the design of the squad needed to be very lean and versatile.

Thomas: And we also needed to have a very good strong core group of enablers, [00:30:00] senior professionals, that actually allowed the young players to develop. 

Thomas: Whereas in another club like Aston Villa, Tottenham, they’ve got 30 players of similar quality. So it’s a dog eat dog, every man for themselves type mentality, therefore the opportunity is completely different.

Thomas: But this diagnosis and this brief taking process is really critical for the way that I like to manage, the way that I like to actually integrate the expertise of the staff, and also make some really good strong decisions that essentially can get you credibility and an invitation to move forward with the players.

Clark: That was brilliant. I wanted to make more notes as you were writing that. I really enjoyed that. The idea that you reframe a situation to suit the new narrative is really, I think probably what all. Leadership and all coaching should be about wherever you are right now, how do we understand that?

Clark: And how can we change that into something else? 

Clark: I often have conversations with well I used to before the accident, have conversations about strategy. What is your strategy? 

Clark: And it’s usually this mad, enormous [00:31:00] document. And, if you try to get them to interpret that to the. So how that gets translated to the people on the shop floor, most don’t know.

Clark: So what story is that telling to, to, to these guys? 

Clark: Where are we trying to get to? 

Clark: And it calls to mind talking about teams and maybe on a bad run, for instance, I was working with an assembly line that had enormous problems and the unions were involved. There were people wanting to strike and all sorts of things.

Clark: And these are the people I said I was watching for several weeks, but having had the conversation with them, you reframe that situation and say. How would this look if by such and such a I think I gave them a target of six months down the line that we were actually able to finish at four, clean up, go and have a cup of tea, have a debrief and the disbelief on the guy’s faces was brilliant because that helps you, they’re then asking you to convince me, tell me that this is something that can happen.

Clark: And it did happen, save the company enormous amounts of money, but it’s about reframing that narrative. Yeah, that was brilliant!

Rob: I’m still taking in all the parts. So it’s [00:32:00] really about a lot of listening, of understanding where everyone is, and mapping out the culture, the historical trends stakeholders expectations what assets you’ve got, and really, it comes down to purpose and everything. There’s like a 360 degree understanding of the club.

Rob: You can see with Unai Emery didn’t really work at Arsenal and Arsenal is a club with a strong tradition. And they were probably already, they have been historically a top club. 

Rob: And so there’s going to be a little bit resistance and there’s going to be comparison with Arsene Wenger and all the great teams.

Rob: And it’s interesting what you say about changing the narrative because I’m a Liverpool fan and Klopp. is the poster boy for unifying the team. 

Rob: It’s interesting what you said about some, some people will bring that whole thing. Whereas I look at also Guardiola brought four people to Man City because he didn’t want to unsettle everyone.

Rob: Because if you come in as a new manager and you’ve brought in your new [00:33:00] players and one of the problems that Klopp had was. Liverpool had underperformed for 30 years and all the players lacked self belief. There was a belief that they weren’t good enough from themselves and also from the fans.

Rob: So as soon as they did something wrong, the fans were like, Oh, we’re going to fail again. One of, the great things that he did was say to them, no, you are good enough. I want you in the team. And suddenly changing that gave people belief. And when he got the fans on board, 

Rob: There was the instance, I think it was Stoke when they drew with Stoke and he got them to applaud the fans and it was building the unity. 

Rob: There’s so much of what you’ve said that I think is applicable, but one of the problems I’ve written down is. I don’t think in business, we have that same feedback. 

Rob: And I think what you’re talking about is so much quicker feedback so that we’re able to see when we’re on track and when we’re off track. 

Rob: Just pick up 

Tony: on the cultural conversation. And I had a chat with a colleague of mine last week, and I’m not sure who wrote this, but they talked about. Culture has been the [00:34:00] sum of its interactions. 

Tony: So if we talk about the client, the behavior driving the culture, not culture, driving the behavior, looking at it through your lens, that it’s exactly speaks of that and to get a sum of interactions, it’s your culture is positive interactions minus negative interactions.

Tony: So take all of the conversations that being had on the shop floor in the day. 

Tony: Or in the changing room when the coach isn’t looking, and the quality of the culture is determined by what percentage is positively iterated and what percentage is negatively iterated. Take one from the other and see where you’re at.

Tony: And that resonated so strongly with me from both sides of the fence when I’ve been in a football environment, when I’ve been in a an operational environment. 

Tony: Even now as I’m thinking, as I’m speaking. In recent interventions that I’ve had in the manufacturing sector. And of course, I’m the kind of person where people are going to bring their grievances to me.

Tony: They’re going to say things to me that they’re not, they don’t have the safety or trust to say openly within the group of fear of ramifications [00:35:00] or whatever it may be. The environment hasn’t been built robustly enough yet for them to have those conversations the way I would like them to have, if I thought they were, optimized.

Tony: But I sense that the. Culture deficit is significant and if my recent forays into manufacturing sector are indicative of what’s happening more broadly, I would say lots of organizations need a lot of help with understanding what they actually mean by culture, because they’ve all got their value statements on the wall.

Tony: And perhaps they were written by two boards ago. And the companies tried to uphold those over time, but all the people have changed and they’ve got different ideals and different value sets. So the behaviors don’t actually match anymore. There’s a whole, can of worms open if we go too far down that path.

Tony: But I really think that positive interactions minus negative interactions does equate to a good cultural litmus test. What 

Clark: Rob just said was really the answer to what you were just saying there about The culture, [00:36:00] because when he said that whereas in football teams, there’s almost immediate feedback to the managers, how well they’re doing, what the culture is, everybody can see it is, and it’s totally transparent and organizations and businesses don’t tend to have that so much.

Clark: It is possible for a boss to live in an ivory tower or to hide himself away for managers to not get out on the shop floor and avoid the conversations that are going out on the shop floor, and I’ve been saying for years, I’ve been pushing this idea of this 10th man, which was not my idea. This is the 10th man principle was invented by the Israelis 50 years ago.

Clark: But I’ve been pushing it in organizations for exactly that reason that you just mentioned, Tony. 

Clark: And that is that the manager of a football club has to be the person that creates the ethos around which everything else revolves. Even if, as Thomas says, they’re a smaller part of a bigger machine, but they are the person that everybody looks to.

Clark: Whereas in an organization, the boss can create a strategy, he can filter down and tell all of the various managers to, to [00:37:00] carry out certain parts of his strategy without actually getting too involved. And this idea of the 10th man is the person that says. What are you doing?

Clark: Get out of there. Go and talk to them. 

Clark: You did a Gemba walk, as if you actually did do a Gemba walk, because you really just walked around to let people see your face. You didn’t ask anybody anything. You didn’t look at anything. You weren’t measuring KPIs or metrics. Get out there. 

Clark: The 10th man is a person that says, how do you know what’s really going on?

Clark: So what are your decisions based on? 

Clark: The manager of a football club knows almost immediately. If he’s any good, of course, he gets the feedback. He gets the vibe. He reads the room in the dressing room and so on. 

Clark: Businesses don’t have that so much. And so people like yourself, Tony, I would say somebody like you, apart from all the other things you do, you are the, what I would call the ideal 10th man.

Clark: You’re the person that says hold on a minute, let’s just wait. Because I don’t think what you think is going on is actually going on. 

Clark: And that’s really important because you don’t get that. And organizations can go years without the boss knowing what the hell’s going on, which is a terrible situation to be 

Tony: in.

Tony: Yeah, absolutely. Just by the way, while I remember just picking up on. [00:38:00] On the feedback being instant in football and picking up on the fact that you’re a Villa fan. No, no doubt. You’re a fan of Mark Bosnich. 

Clark: Yeah. Yeah. The Goalie here. Yeah. 

Tony: Yeah. So a little connection. So Bozza is now one of the top pundits in in Australia in the A league on tv.

Tony: In terms of the immediate feedback. I was interviewed we’d just got beat by Sydney FC away at Sydney Football Stadium. Horrendous time for me, personally, but in the immediate post match interview, I put the headphones on the side of the pitch, microphone in my ear. 

Tony: Mark Bosnich, Tony it’s Bozza can you tell me why you don’t think it’s time you should resign?

Tony: Do you think it’s time you resigned? 

Tony: Straight after a game, so I can resonate with the fact that in football, you do get pretty instant feedback and during the game, obviously, you’ve got the fans, which drive, some people think about it this way before a game. With the prospect of this, you know that immediate feedback is coming your way, whether you do something good or you do something bad.

Tony: Or if [00:39:00] you’re the coach, the team plays well or the team plays badly, you know that this feedback’s coming. And as the players are lining up, there’ll be someone at one end of the spectrum that is absolutely relishing the opportunity to go and show what they can do. 

Tony: And there’ll be somebody else who’s absolutely terrified of making a mistake that might cost them the game.

Tony: And everyone’s somewhere between those two polar opposites, everybody sits. 

Tony: It’s absolutely critical that the coach, the head coach manager is able to help those people navigate those emotional, what could be emotional barriers to taking too much risk or emotional barriers to not perform at all.

Clark: We’re hoping that this new lad Gauchi is gonna be the new Mark Bosnich. ’cause he is a big confident Australian lad, isn’t he? 

Tony: He was a kid when I was there.

Clark: That thing that you just mentioned about managing that spectrum of emotions that players and, you can translate this to organizations as well. 

Clark: I’ve been into businesses where within a short period of time, you can spot there’s an enormous talent in certain parts of the business and you think what’s happened there, 

Clark: Thomas mentioned silos and stuff earlier, the, these [00:40:00] guys, for whatever reason, for whatever the culture is, push them into dark corners of the business.

Clark: And that’s the opportunity for you then to have that one on one relationship with them and say, listen, it’s a clean slate now, the culture is going to change and you’re going to be part of that and so on. But it’s really all about from an organizational point of view, is letting everybody know that whatever’s gone on before, their aspirations can still be realized as long as everybody works together according to this new reframed narrative that you bring in.

Clark: And it does require somebody to actually bring out into the open. It’s that sort of emperor’s new clothes situation, isn’t it? 

Clark: To say, look, come on, we all know that was bollocks. We can’t live by that belief anymore, but it has to be discussed. It sometimes even involves, and I’ve invited this many times in boardrooms.

Clark: It has to be argued, passions can run high and because people will hold beliefs around certain parts of the business, but you can’t manage that until that conversation has been got out into the open. 

Thomas: I think just on that, the 10th Man concept has really resonated with me because [00:41:00] I think something that Tony and I try and have as a, as an outlier benefit to the way that we approach leadership and management in sport is to almost have that 10th man intrinsically within ourself. 

Thomas: Because I think as a head coach, if you take one example of a practice that doesn’t quite go according to plan, that’s actually your best feedback. 

Thomas: Because if the players haven’t quite taken to a certain practice, they’ve not given the appropriate, Commitment or energy that you wanted them to a lot of coaches will instantly go to blaming the players 

Thomas: Whereas as the head coach, I always actually say “guys Let’s watch the session back let’s actually reflect on the planning process the execution and now the quality of the review” because If we intentionally planned it With all the players in mind, and I think Tony makes a good point in the planning process, you can actually put individual constraints into a session that actually starts to address [00:42:00] maybe the emotional challenges or the tactical challenges that the players have.

Thomas: All too often in football, I think coaches design sessions on autopilot. Because conceptually, we have an understanding of the game, we have an understanding of the game that we would like to see, and then we design a practice for that to somehow come out. And when it doesn’t, our go to response is to blame the players.

Thomas: They’re not good enough. He’s got something on his mind. He’s, he doesn’t like doing these types of practices. 

Thomas: But Tony introduced me to a concept that is obviously very well renowned in terms of self determination theory. That’s something that in every single conversation, every single practice design, I like those things to be represented in terms of the players having choice.

Thomas: The player’s feeling like this is preparing them to perform when the pressure’s on and when it really matters. 

Thomas: And also to feel connected to my wants and needs, the needs of the team, but also them to themselves and their teammates. 

Thomas: I think when you have self [00:43:00] determination theory running through conversations, decisions, practice design, every element in your football club, then by and large, you actually start to foster some really good, human interactions.

Rob: It is trying to tie it all of that together in terms of the culture, the Like one, as humans, if we have one positive and one negative, we’re going to focus on the negative. So in relationships, there’s research that shows that in a good relationship, they have five positive interactions to one negative.

Rob: When you look at culture, there’s a direct analogy to gut bacteria. And it’s a constantly changing environment. 

Rob: If there’s too many bad bacteria get in, we get sick. And when you look if you look at Facebook as most monetized human emotions and human attention and they’ve worked out that they have to show seven things that you like in the feed before they show one advert.

Rob: And in the same way, TV has worked out how much TV you need to have against how many adverts before you’re going to, so [00:44:00] all of that I think is feeds into the same way as a culture. 

Rob: So basically as the team coach, as the leader of an organization, you have to do something that’s completely alien to us as humans.

Rob: You can’t just be someone that just goes in and go, Oh, I’m up and down. You have to be able to maintain, like the leader has to be the one who goes in every day and who sets off the interactions. 

Rob: So if we’re talking in human interactions, someone has to trust first, someone has to have belief. As you were saying some people don’t have that belief in themselves, some people will let themselves down.

Rob: And then into all the mix, and just to add back to the Bosman thing, that there is a social media trend. 

Rob: I think players that haven’t managed probably don’t have a real appreciation of what the other side of the role is, but they also have to play to the crowd a little bit in this is what the fans want to hear, and this is what’s going to create drama, and this is what’s going to create controversy.

Rob: And I think organizations have that same dynamic. And sometimes it’s entrenched in say manufacturing [00:45:00] or somewhere where there’s a is a culture of like skepticism and cynicism and all of that plays into that into that whole mix of the culture. And so there’s a lot of pressure for the manager.

Rob: Because you’ve got to be the one that starts off, you’ve got to be the one that sets the example, and even when you have all that pressure, you’ve still got to be able to maintain the positivity because you’ve got to be the one that sets the tone. So how do you deal when things aren’t going well, so for example in that instance, how do you keep faith, keep the culture positive, keep the interactions positive with all that going on, and you as a human feeling human emotions?

Rob: We are all human. 

Tony: First and foremost is that there’s a sense that the reality is we need to be at our best when we need to be at our best. And that’s not every minute of every day. 

Tony: It’s when it’s required. So that’s about managing energy. It’s about managing health. It’s about managing mood.

Tony: It’s ultimately self awareness. And sometimes there are life events and I’ve been through there are [00:46:00] life events that shake that to the core. And just don’t allow you to have the capacity that you need to be fully on when you need to be fully on. 

Tony: That comes at a cost. But if I think about, what do we want?

Tony: If we want everyone to be at their best when it’s on game day, we want everyone to be at their best, to give us the best chance to win the game. 

Tony: Or there’s a big push to get all the boxes out on Friday afternoon, last shift of the week. Can we really pull together and deliver?

Tony: And for whatever reason. People don’t show up on the day for different reasons, emotional concerns, events that have happened physically. They just don’t feel it. It’s life rights. It’s we’re humans. 

Tony: So to provide a framework that to the large degree cuts through all that and at least gives us a backbone, I’ll refer back to Thomas’s reference to self determination theory.

Tony: In order to provide the optimum amount of autonomy. Per person based, of course, there’s a process, of course, there’s a structure, of course, there’s a set of constraints that in order for this system that we’re going to Adopt to work at his best. 

Tony: We need these things to happen. These are the [00:47:00] deliverables within that.

Tony: Here’s the optimum amount of autonomy that each person needs. 

Tony: Some people need all the information spoon fed to them. Others need to be told once and left well alone to crack on with it and let them make their own choices as to how they go about it. So you got again these for whatever it is that we determine needs to happen for the team.

Tony: Somebody is most closely aligned to that and somebody is least closely aligned to that. 

Tony: The one that’s least closely aligned, it may not be terminal, it may not be, but it might need some adjustment. 

Tony: Have they got the right amount of autonomy? 

Tony: Are they putting them in a role that they’re capable of, or if it’s an academy player stepping up, are they’re not going to sink, they can grow into it, they’re surrounded by the enablers that Thomas is talking about, they’re surrounded by people that can help them through difficult moments in a game.

Tony: And then, I suppose optimally, is my relationship to them the one that they need? The classic, do you need a kick up the bum or an arm around your shoulder, is as simplistic as it gets. 

Tony: But to what degree, how intimate do I need to be with this [00:48:00] person? 

Tony: How direct do I need to be to this person?

Tony: It’s not how close we are. It’s how do I get the best out of them on their terms? 

Tony: They need to be told what to do. They need to negotiate with me in order that we agree that this is the right thing to do.

Tony: Or they need to be enthused and empowered to go and be the player that we know they can be.

Tony: They need to be. It needs to be motive. It needs to be, on your day, you can, or the crowd love it when you do these things, do they need that? 

Tony: Some do some shut up, leave me alone, let me, I’m an introvert. Just let me play my head for don’t you spoke to me yesterday. I’m happy with my headphones on, keep it down. 

Tony: So that relatedness is absolutely essential. We get those three things, and the same applies to a operational environment, manufacturing environment, or a tech company or sales team. 

Tony: If it’s the sales leader, I know those three things are absolutely vital to intrinsic motivation.

Tony: And I failed to apply that principle to everybody within the team, then I’m designing suboptimal performance. 

Tony: That’s with [00:49:00] me. Now, when I landed on this, I’ve been able to play it back through my career and realize when it was in play for me. 

Tony: Without knowing what the theory was back then. 

Tony: When I was naturally using it and it was working well for me with the group of players that I was working for.

Tony: So I can play it through my own experiences. 

Tony: When did I have autonomy? 

Tony: When did I have great relationships that were supporting me to do what I wanted to do to be successful? 

Tony: And when did I feel like I was on top of my game and stretching for big wins? 

Tony: And I know that you can see how my energy’s gone up talking about those times because I was fully immersed in a highly motivational situation that was working well for me.

Tony: For me, the leader is the job is to find that in everybody. It’s really hard. It’s not surprising that most people don’t. 

Tony: Lots of people probably don’t even know that exists as a principle, but regardless, it’s not surprising that you go from one complex environment, football team to another, and it’s not automatically, there’s too many moving parts.

Tony: That framework is a way to scoop [00:50:00] up a lot of moving parts, at least into something that is easily understandable and transferable. Because it matters to all of us. 

Clark: That seems to me, Tony, to be probably the key to being I was going to say a good leader, to being the leader that the team needs.

Clark: However you want to put that it’s this idea that while you’re managing all the movement parts, you have to be above all else, the embodiment of all of the values that you’re espousing to the rest of your team and organization. You have to live it. 

Clark: And that reminded me of remember David O’Leary?

Clark: When he was at Villa and he, I dunno why he did it, but he talked about the fans being fickle, . It was such a talk about shooting yourself in the foot. And then at the very next game there was a massive sign that said, we’re not fickle, we just don’t like it. 

Tony: And that goes back.

Tony: You gotta applaud that. I was like, well, said. Let, 

Clark: they don’t get any snarky than football fans do they. It goes back to what Thomas was saying about this idea of the 10th man being, actually being the 10th man yourself. 

Clark: I’ve had this conversation with lots of bosses that it’s not necessary to have somebody [00:51:00] else there to just point out where you might be going wrong or where you might be going over the edge of a cliff.

Clark: Ideally, if the boss can be that person, if the manager can be that person, he then is not only managing the moving parts, as you said, Tony, and embodying the values that the organization espouses. 

Clark: But he’s also self checking constantly so that he doesn’t call the fans fickle so that he doesn’t tell the customers that, we know what’s the best way to do this.

Clark: I always say to organizations, you’ve got to start with the bit that’s closest to the customer because they’re the people that matter and then work backwards and you’re at the very back of the queue. But every decision that you make every idea that is put forward, every time everybody says, yes, this is brilliant.

Clark: Let’s do this. You have to ask yourself and you’re the only person that can ask. Is this right? 

Clark: Are we operating, again to the proper benchmark here? 

Clark: Do we really know what’s going on? 

Clark: And if that person can do all of those things, can be the 10th man that self checks and embody the values of the organization, like you said, Tony, and manage [00:52:00] everybody else’s behavior, then he’s a good boss, right?

Clark: That’s why they’re on the rock star wages.

Thomas: That’s the second time that you’ve spoken, Clark, and All I’m hearing is Lencioni’s five dysfunctions of a team. 

Thomas: I’m now at 42 and through conversations where a lot of different people now able to say the SoStac model was really important to me. 

Thomas: Transformational leadership is really important to me.

Thomas: Lencioni, the absence of trust and the vulnerability of the leader to be receptive to feedback. 

Thomas: To be receptive to potentially underperforming that for me is really important and it’s something that comes at you as a football coach, whether you want or not, because if you were to type in any of our names as a head coach on social media.

Thomas: That feedback will be there, it’ll be live, it’ll be instant, and it’ll be quite strong. 

Thomas: And you can decide if you take it or not, but there will be learnings from it. 

Thomas: To Rob’s initial point, I think the key thing for me is again, controlling the narrative, because If the barometer [00:53:00] of your success is three points every Saturday, then the dressing room is just going to constantly rise and fall, full of emotion, full of reactive behavior.

Thomas: Whereas if you actually tell the dressing room, like I did at Dundee United, that if on average, We can take 1. 45 points per game, then we’ll qualify for Europe and grossly overperform. 

Thomas: And that 1. 45 points per game is you actually giving away 50 percent of your points. So you can choose where you give those 50 percent of the points away from.

Thomas: The players are thinking, wow, we actually can get beat 50 percent of the games this year. and still qualify for Europe? 

Thomas: Absolutely. 

Thomas: So in the absence of actually articulating that, we would be rising and falling every week when we were losing the 50 percent of those games. 

Thomas: Now, thankfully for me, it’s a strong story to tell because we did finish in Europa qualification qualification for that season.

Thomas: For me was a way of really commanding that narrative and [00:54:00] controlling the emotions each week. And I think the second part of that is actually being surrounded by really good people that have your back. 

Thomas: That don’t fear conflict, like what you were talking about Clark. 

Thomas: So Lencioni again that can actually say, look, team selection probably wasn’t great there the session that we did last week or the logistics.

Thomas: So you get that 10th man feedback and usually you’ll have actually reflected yourself and you say, appreciate your honesty and telling me that. But I already thought that myself. 

Thomas: And see even footballers and there is another point I’d like to make before actually say about footballers. They are one of the one percents that have actually made it.

Thomas: The figures are staggering about the lack of academy players that make it in football. 

Thomas: So these guys are one of the 1%. So there is a robustness, there is a technical quality. There is a tactical capability. They actually have that. Within them and it’s our job to bring it out. 

Thomas: I think footballers, what keeps the habitat and the environment stable is when there’s an opportunity for you to take responsibility [00:55:00] without diminishing your credibility or alienating yourself to actually really say, guys, see today there’s things that we could have done better as well in the dressing rooms that I’ve been part of.

Thomas: That is really powerful and it is an invitation, again, linked to Lencioni to actually hold the players. even more accountable and to drive them even more towards results because once they know that it’s a reasonably level playing field and you’ll also protect them externally in front of the media, that is a big invitation in sport for footballers to have that psychological safety, to take risks and to really go on a journey.

Clark: Very good. Very 

Rob: good. 

Rob: When you look at, the social media and the immediacy of the fans, it’s probably the hardest environment to create psychological safety. 

Rob: I can see now as you’re talking I’m really seeing that an issue, like what we discussed, it shows me it’s the importance of listening and working out that strategy.

Rob: By taking in everything that everyone said, and then [00:56:00] you develop the tactics for the specific games. Then it’s about the man management and then it’s about how do you maintain that state, and it’s about maintaining your state and maintaining the state of your players. 

Rob: There’s a question, right back when we started, Thomas, you talked about in football, you’ve got to drop players and Tony, you’ve talked about, you’ve got to slant the narrative so that whoever you’re dealing with feels whatever they need in terms of autonomy competence and relatedness that they need to feel that it’s meeting their needs.

Rob: So if you’ve got to drop a player and I’m thinking, for example, I remember reading about Messi and his development and how the jealousies that created with Eto’o and other players like this. 

Rob: When you set up tactics or a way that a team is going to play, you’re going to make certain players, you’re going to emphasize certain traits and certain players and others that you might want to be involved.

Rob: Like I think Guardiola tried to fit Eto’o [00:57:00] in and he let him stay another season when actually he didn’t really fit into the plans psychologically or tactically. 

Rob: So how do you deal with that? How do you deal with the jealousy of, like you said. 

Rob: The amount, the players that make it are the ones that, they’ve already. 

Rob: Every human, of all the sperm that started we’re the ones that lasted out of millions. 

Rob: So how do you, these highly competitive players, how do you create that harmony with your tactics? 

Rob: As in, you decide the tactic, but then you’ve got to harmonize the players around that.

Clark: Just something Thomas just said, though, that the five dysfunctions of a team that Patrick Lencioni talks about, and I’ve watched Lencioni for years because I love the idea, conflict is not something to hide from. 

Clark: You have to have those conversations. And it’s the same now I’ve realized since I’ve shifted across to working with individuals, and it’s exactly the same people won’t have those conversations with themselves.

Clark: They delude themselves and you look at them and you think, am I seeing something differently? 

Clark: You’re in there, you’re the [00:58:00] person that’s running the show in there and yet you still can’t see the thing that’s obvious to everybody out here. 

Clark: I recall working at an organization when I first come across to Norfolk, the very first production meeting that I walked into and I was there just in observing at first.

Clark: We’ve laughed about it since, so I don’t mind telling this story, but the production director came in. 

Clark: There were about 15 managers all stood around in this room, and I was there observing because I was going to be taken over from the next shift. And he just ripped them all a new one.

Clark: He just laid into them and then walked out. 

Clark: And I started looking at these guys. And I said all that stuff that he’s just said, was there any reasons for any of it? 

Clark: Whether, was there anything, any feedback? And they said, oh yeah, and they spent the next 15 minutes explaining all the reasons for what he said.

Clark: I said why didn’t you tell him? 

Clark: He said, oh no, we can’t do that. And so my first conversation was with the director. 

Clark: These guys have got a lot to say and I said when you go into your next meeting, you need to expect a completely different conversation because all of my work over the next couple of days was with these guys.

Clark: If you saw that this was an issue, that machine was down, or that these persons, these people didn’t turn [00:59:00] up on time, or whatever, you need to tell him, not that they’re excuses, but this is what we’re working with. These are resources we have available, and you need to give us this to get that done.

Clark: And over the course of about a week, he stopped coming. He stopped coming. Because they, they had it. They already knew it. They didn’t need to hear how rubbish they were. They knew how rubbish they were but he just wasn’t giving them the tools to fix it. And those are the conversations, I think, that Thomas I hope that’s what you were saying anyway, that they’re the conversations that 

Thomas: need to happen.

Thomas: Yeah, I absolutely was, because if you think about the dressing room as the habitat or the production floor as a habitat, I think us as leaders are responsible for creating the climate. 

Thomas: And I think when there’s clarity around that, then it’s about, are they equipped? 

Thomas: Are they resourced? 

Thomas: Is there the appropriate forums?

Thomas: To Rob’s point is, it’s a really good example, the Messi one, because while someone like, like an Eto’o, who I think was still actually in his prime at that point in time, there would be some [01:00:00] possible resistance about, mantle and status. 

Thomas: Then you had Ronaldinho, who essentially martyred himself at Barcelona for the emergence of Messi to come through.

Thomas: So that’s an even better example. And I think sometimes as a head coach you can look at all the disposable opportunities to try and harmonise the team. 

Thomas: Actually speaking to players one to one actually So Eto’o is an example who’s known to be quite difficult, who’s known to want to be the talisman. 

Thomas: I think sometimes having those authentic conversations, so maybe actually some video, some data, is there any historical evidence that you can actually marry this together?

Thomas: There’s a lot of traveling in football. So is there a consideration to put those two players into a room together? 

Thomas: Could you create unit meetings where the attackers go with a specific coach and you purposely craft some video content where Etu starts to see advantages in Messi. 

Thomas: [01:01:00] So you telling me that we’re going to promote this guy because he’s going to supply me with 15 goals?

Thomas: Wow. So if I make those types of runs or make those types of sacrifices elsewhere, that we can be better to ultimately get better contracts to win more trophies. 

Thomas: It’s not always possible as we know, because these guys at the top level carry huge egos and it’s a very kind of finite balance of trying to harmonize it all.

Thomas: But I do still think that there’s multiple opportunities and multiple leadership resources that, that we can utilize to best harmonize the team, but we also have the power of selection and sometimes the emergence of a Messi might mean that we’re prepared to sacrifice a Samuel Etto as well and that has to be collectively, you know diagnosed, conversated over, agreed upon, because that actually has really wider ramifications, but wouldn’t it be a great conversation to have whether or not you’re going to try and pacify a [01:02:00] Samuel Eto’o or you’re going to actually, promote quickly a Leo Messi.

Thomas: If I’ve ever actually got that decision to make in my career, then I’m sure I’ve cracked it.

Rob: It’s coming, 

Tony: Thomas. It’s coming, mate. It’s coming. 

Tony: Rob just touching on I think the idea of if you’ve got a squad of 30 players, you can only pick 11, you’re leaving, some of them just feel underutilized, let’s say, and that’s going to impact in different ways. 

Tony: I wrote an article yesterday, it’s fresh in mind, but if you are, and people make the mistake of thinking that all elite footballers are hewn from the same cloth, they’re just like us, they’re all different.

Tony: They’re all different. 

Tony: They just worked hard, talented enough and worked hard enough and got the opportunities to get where they are. 

Tony: So you’ve got the real high achiever. The driven, high performer when it comes to everybody, you’re not in the team this week. 

Tony: Now that person’s going to react differently to somebody who’s the quintessential team player.

Tony: I’m in it for everybody else. I’m still a great player. I’m still committed, but I’m playing for everybody else. 

Tony: I’m not in it for [01:03:00] me. It’s two different sort of personas, if you like. 

Tony: Now, the first guy, his typical reaction will be that’s a challenge. I’m going to show you. I’m going to get fitter.

Tony: I’m going to work harder on my game. 

Tony: I’m going to prove myself. outwardly that you’ve made a mistake that I’m worthy of selection. 

Tony: Now underpinning that, they might also show a little bit more support to the rest of the team. I’m going to show them that I’m the guy that they think I am. I’m Superman.

Tony: So there’s all of that external stuff going on that we know we can feel it. We can see it. We can taste it as a coach. 

Tony: But what else is going on for this guy? 

Tony: That’s the bit that we really need to understand because we need to avoid the repressed side of the impact being played out in the wrong room with the wrong people, with the people that can be influenced negatively.

Tony: We don’t want to create a toxic culture because we don’t understand what the ramifications of leaving people out are. 

Tony: We have to get on top of it. 

Tony: This guy may well be struggling with a deep sense of rejection, and we need to know that, [01:04:00] it would help to know that. 

Tony: And if you’re the other type, if you’re the quintessential team guy, they may be dealing with a repressed sense of feeling undervalued or invisible.

Tony: I’m always showing this for everybody else, and I’m actually building resentment inside. 

Tony: And I hate this, I’m not going to say it, because I’m a team player. 

Tony: I’m going to say all the right things, I’m going to do all the right stuff. 

Tony: If we can get, and it’s almost like the next level where the game can go, where management in general can go there’s a bit of lip service paid to this sort of stuff, but when we can understand people to that degree, they know we’ve got their back.

Tony: We’ve got to help them know themselves. 

Tony: Cause lots of people don’t know that’s what’s going on. They feel it. They feel resentful. They feel bad. They feel malicious, whatever it might be. 

Tony: They’ve got to get control of that, otherwise it’s going to become toxic or unhealthy for them and for other people.

Tony: So if we can get, we can harness that understanding, oh wow, unbelievable, but how we can help people grow and knowing [01:05:00] that of ourselves, that it, going back to Clark, what you were saying earlier, shine the light on ourselves first and become that then we can, we start to move in a completely different circle, I think.

Clark: That’s that’s interesting, actually, Tony, because there’s another thing that I brought with me from manufacturing. 

Clark: That manufacturing has always championed this idea of eliminating waste from an organization. That’s wasted movement, wasted material and all that sort of stuff. But the hardest waste to see is the waste of underutilized talent.

Clark: And it really talks a lot about how you develop your people, even when they seem to be a lost cause. 

Clark: I noticed recently, Aston Villa have had a, what some pundits have called a drop in form recently, which I find hilarious. 

Clark: We’re still sitting in fourth. But, I talked to all my family.

Clark: My family is still in Birmingham. My son lives here. We watch the games. Every week, rain or shine, and recently, the game against Man United recently was an absolute nightmare. 

Clark: We have conversations because he’ll play somebody like, [01:06:00] for instance, earlier in the season he was playing Bailey, and Bailey wasn’t playing particularly well.

Clark: Recently he’s been playing players like Zaniolo and Diaby have been coming on, Tielemans was doing terribly, and right now there’s young Jacob Ramsey. Who’s come back from injury and he’s not playing well, particularly well at all. He seems to be fluffing a lot of his shots. And so you get a lot of these fans saying what’s he doing on there?

Clark: He’s supposed to be the best manager ever. 

Clark: I said to my son, but this is the perfect time to do this. They’re sitting in third, fourth now. We can afford to drop a few points if it brings some of these players up and is developing the confidence of, Bailey, who we thought he was going to be gone last season, and now you can’t leave him out of the team.

Clark: The guy is dangerous every time he gets near a ball. 

Clark: When you give some of these guys an opportunity, even when the player knows, I’m rubbish at the moment. I’m doing terribly. Clearly the boss sees something that even I don’t see. And that’s where self belief starts to get instilled into a player. And I think it’s the other side of what you were saying, isn’t it?

Clark: Sometimes you have to put people in, [01:07:00] even if they don’t feel they should be in. Because that’s where you start to bring out the potential in people. 

Clark: And time again, I’ve worked with people that really didn’t feel they had it in them to be managers. I see this a lot with female managers. They struggle in meetings, the guys bang the table, they get loud, they talk over them.

Clark: And they say, how can I compete with this? 

Clark: And, the answer is not to be men. Don’t be a man. Blokes are scared of a strong woman, so be strong. And you talk about the strengths that they have. 

Clark: But it’s putting them into a situation that they don’t think they’re able to deal with and letting them see that they actually can, which is exactly the same as what you’ve just said.

Clark: It’s just the other side of the same coin, isn’t it? Developing those people, even when they don’t know they’re able to be developed.

Rob: Absolutely.

Rob: There’s been some great points made. 

Rob: It might be helpful just to go around what everyone felt or what everyone was thinking or anything that anyone’s going to take away from this conversation.

Rob: For me it’s been fascinating to see inside a, Fast paced work, and it’s validating because when I first came from relationships to teams, basically, I [01:08:00] had a five step model that was very similar to Lencioni. There’s been mentioned in Lencioni, so that’s validating to know, because I think where we unify.

Rob: In my experience of relationships is that relationships break at the point of conflict. They don’t end at the point of conflict, but they just get worse. And then we blame the other person, but it’s really the disconnection between people that creates the behavior that we, that later ends the relationship.

Rob: In the end, it’s all about people. I’ve taken a huge amount. There’s a lot that I still trying to take in from what you’ve both shared. 

Rob: And Clark, it’s been great that you’ve been able to relate your experiences in manufacturing in the same way. 

Rob: I’m really seeing that it’s really about clarity and I can see Tony, you and I have talked about the visibility and.

Rob: It’s so key being able to make visible what’s invisible. 

Rob: So that we have that understanding and then it’s been able to put all those pieces and it’s really about listening and it’s about communication is about listening and expressing your [01:09:00] message. 

Rob: The root word of communication is to make common and it’s like getting all the Lego bricks there and we can put together the strategy when we know all the different parts.

Rob: So what you’ve shown me is how important it is to understand all the different stakeholders and all the different. Moving parts. 

Rob: And then really it’s about them from that strategy. 

Rob: It’s the man management. And what really brought to me is the ability to maintain your state and how difficult it is to be a leader and how I think Everyone who takes up a leadership position has to grow personally in order to cope with the pressure because you’re taking on the challenge that you’re not ready for.

Rob: So thank you all, but that’s what I’ve taken. Tony, if you want to share what you’re thinking. Yeah, 

Tony: I just pick up on your last comment there, Rob. 

Tony: Manufacturing is a great example of an environment where, and football as well for that matter, where high performers are thrust into management roles before they’re ready.

Tony: Because it’s not something that you can do a management [01:10:00] course and suddenly you’re a manager, you read a book you read Lencioni’s five dysfunctions book, which is, it’s a fantastic model. 

Tony: Applying it is where the art is. You can be a, I’ve got some tools in the garage, but I couldn’t build you a really nice table.

Tony: You know what I mean? It’s the tools are great to have, but you can only get to where we want to go. It’s a continuous improvement journey. 

Tony: You can only get there through immersing yourself in it. And being open to experience and open to feedback. ‘ cause without it you’re that person that will go and stand in front of a group of people and tell ’em who you are and what you want, and start banging your head against the wall for the next 20 years.

Tony: It’s about immersing yourself. 

Tony: Leadership of teams is immersing yourself in personal growth. And when you know yourself, you can grow. 

Tony: You can grow the opportunities that your team can make. You can grow your people. If you’re going in blindly, it’s just sometimes you get lucky.

Tony: Sometimes, most of the time, not.

Thomas: [01:11:00] Thomas. Yeah, I think the first thing I’d like to say is it’s great to be in a room with people who are of real expertise. 

Thomas: How you guys communicate, the space that you create for brilliant conversations, but also how quickly you’re actually able to distill and succinctly replay back what’s been said.

Thomas: It’s a long time since I’ve sat in this kind of environment around people who are essentially providing quality consultancy services and can very quickly actually pick apart what someone is saying, succinctly replay it back and then also like challenge or give something to think about.

Thomas: So I just want to firstly say thank you for that. 

Thomas: It’s been quite inspiring for me to be part of this conversation. And I think the main thing for me, and just to keep the second part short, is that leadership comes with a lot of responsibility for your people. 

Thomas: And that for me is probably the thing I’m taking away, and it’s something that I innately feel as well.

Thomas: And I remember saying to Tony recently that [01:12:00] I’d seen this statement around, I hope you’re winning the battle that you tell nobody about. 

Thomas: And I think if we actually like pause for five seconds there, there will undoubtedly be something that we are all fighting, whether it be as males or just as people that we tell absolutely nobody about.

Thomas: And if that’s the highest level of responsibility that leadership comes with. where a player or, an employee can come and just tell you that one thing or tell a member of your staff or feel the safety to just be authentically themselves. 

Thomas: That’s what I think I’m striving for and it’s why I’m always happy to get involved in these types of discussions because I want to reflect.

Thomas: I want to be my own 10th man and I want to be surrounded by people that think like a 10th man so that we can provide better service and that better climate as leaders. So thank you very much for the invite guys. I appreciate it. Thank you. Clark. 

Clark: When I got to the office this morning, I was just talking about football.

Clark: Why I love talking about football. Especially now that we’re, Aston Villa’s not a dirty word. 

Clark: But [01:13:00] I’ve taken my son to the football since he was a little boy. And I remember going to the first game when Villa were in the third division in 1973 was, we were rubbish and it was raining.

Clark: And for some reason, the magic of the situation got me into football for the rest of my life. And it’s a working class game. 

Clark: Always has been, always will be. In spite of all the Arsenal’s and Chelsea’s with their massive stadiums. It’s a working class game. And having worked in manufacturing, that’s a working class job.

Clark: And stuff on LinkedIn about leadership. And I look at some of these things that people say, and I think, I don’t know if you would know leadership if it fell on you, if you got put amongst a group of people. 

Clark: Some of them from foreign countries, some of them that don’t speak English, some of them that never got to school, some of them who were brought up in a single parent council house on an estate somewhere in Birmingham or Manchester or wherever.

Clark: How would you lead these people? 

Clark: Some of the things that get said about leadership drive me around the twist. And yet, football is a bit of a blokey or it’s got the idea of a bit of a blokey atmosphere. 

Clark: It’s not at all, [01:14:00] listen to Thomas and Tony today, both I consider you to be very enlightened individuals and it amazes me because the one thing that’s not been mentioned in all the conversations is humility and both of you are extremely humble men and it really does.

Clark: It inspires me that, for all the shellacking that guys get. In the modern working environment and for all the stuff that’s spouted about leadership by people that, like I say, wouldn’t know it if it ran them over. 

Clark: There are people out there on the front line working with ordinary people doing stuff that helps those people leading them to, to live what I hope are better lives, whether that be in, in football or in, in manufacturing, and that’s to me is where it’s at the cutting edge.

Clark: And the front line of whatever it is you’re doing no, and I would like to just thank all of you for inviting me, it’s been great to listen to you and I actually, you’ve cheered me up because it’s not as bad as everybody would lead me to believe.

Rob: Thanks everyone. 

Rob: Just on that point of humility, it’s remember listening to a book on Guardiola [01:15:00] and they talk about how humble he is and how much humility he has. 

Rob: To Clark’s point when you talk about success and how hard it is in football, both of you have managed in football playing in football is difficult, managing in football is, there can only be one manager.

Rob: The growth of a leader is about humility, a lot of it. 

Rob: All that we’ve talked about, it knocks out anything that isn’t true.

Rob: Thank you everyone for for being part of this. And hope to pick up again and have another conversation.

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