The Team Doesn’t Perform, the Leader Gets Fired – And What You Can Do About It

I am watching the European Football Championship and the German team just won their first two matches. Congratulations.

There is something interesting about football and leadership: how many players do you know who ever got fired? And in contrast to that, how many coaches got sacked when the team didn’t perform? Far more!

The old saying “success has many fathers but failure is an orphan” obviously applies very well to professional football. When the team wins everyone wins: the players, the coach, a whole nation. When they lose there is actually no orphan; the coach is quickly identified as the father although the coach is the only one who cannot even score!

How does this relate to your business? It’s simple: your success as a business leader will be measured by how well your team performs. In football as well as in the corporate world. We can argue whether this is fair or not. What is true is that”the fish rots from the head.” Weak leaders produce weak performers. Great leaders produce A-teams.

Usually leaders have no difficulties in telling me what changes they want to see in their teams: the team needs to feel more in charge and accountable for their results. The team needs to demonstrate more initiative and be more creative. The team needs to collaborate more effectively as a team.

When you ask executives how they can contribute to achieving all this, it gets a lot more difficult. Similar to football, they tend to look for someone or something else to blame: somebody else hired the wrong people, the people just don’t get it, or it’s simply the current tough business circumstances.

Although we know that the fish rots from the head, our own protective system often prevents us from looking critically at the man (or woman) in the mirror. If we do so, we may see our worst enemy.

The critical look at ourselves may not be pleasant at first, but the process of increasing your self-awareness and stretching your comfort zone will be very rewarding. Your success as a leader will be measured by how well your team performs. To take the first step to boost your team’s performance ask yourself now:

What am I doing today that prevents my team from moving forward?

What is the one big thing that I need to do differently to help my team excel?

In order to avoid a single-sided view, get other people’s input: ask them for open and honest feedback. Or do a 360 degree feedback. Others often know more about you than you think. Once you have identified your “one big thing”, you may even be able to laugh about it. More importantly, you will hold the key to team success in your hand.

Enjoy the journey of self-discovery, enjoy success.