Leadership is overrated. With over 493 million hits on Google and $14 billion per year spent in the USA alone on strategies to develop it, leadership is overrated. At least that is the view of Doug Williamson, President and CEO of The Beacon Group who specialize in building high performance organisations across the business industry. Having listened to Doug speak, it is a view I have been enticed to believe as well; for leadership is nothing compared to the concept of followership. Whilst we might perceive the best leaders in the world (and indeed sport) to all have charisma, strategic thinking, higher levels of knowledge and the ability to perform under more pressure than most of us on a daily basis, the single most common thing all good leaders possess are willing followers.
A coach therefore is only as good as his/her followership. For without willing followers, the leader is powerless, just like a teacher would be if their students decided not to turn up to class; just like a singer would be if the audience didn’t show, or just like a Brigadier general would be if their troops decided to stop following orders. Essentially, a good followership facilitates the opportunity for leadership to be successful, and good leadership paves the way for good followership….but what ties them both together, what is the common denominator that determines followership? Ultimately it comes down to one thing and one thing only – credibility.
In the increasingly complex world that coaching operates in credibility is the currency of leadership, and we as coaches have our own stock price. That stock price – like on Wall Street and the FTSE 1000 – fluctuates on a daily basis from the moment we step into our environment to when we step out of it (sometimes even after that). If our credibility is high then our followership will be high and vice versa. But what are the inputs of credibility? How do we obtain it? Simply put, it comes down to the quality of our decisions, and the quality of our interactions with our players and support staff. If we make outstanding decisions and engage in effective interactions our credibility and subsequent stock price goes up. If we go through a period when we make poor decisions and the interactions we have are not productive then our credibility takes a hit.
Hopefully the intention is clear by now – we want to keep moving our coaching stock price up! We want to build up our credibility bank, built on goodwill, experience, relationships and expertise as much as possible. We want to strengthen the trust in our players that we have the capability to tie the processes of our environment to performance. For we know that things rarely go to plan all the time; sooner or later that bank of credibility will come in handy, we’ll need to dip into our stock price and use it. This is exactly what Jose Mourinho is doing now – countless times he’s made excellent decisions and led Chelsea FC to success. Now, when people are starting to question his methods, his decisions and interactions he’s relying on his bank of credibility to remain in his job. It would be safe to say that Brendan Rodgers did not have sufficient credibility in his bank to save him from being sacked by John Henry and Liverpool, just as David Moyes did not have enough invested during his time at Real Sociedad.
Consider your own coaching environment – your stature, your culture, your decisions, your interactions….how much have you invested in your credibility bank? If you had to put a dollar sign on your stock what would the price be right now?
Remember leadership should reflect your culture, and the culture should reflect your leadership.
Doug Williamson Video Clip: https://youtu.be/KM2XM7kRKgQ?list=FLjgKUhCj31PpcOdyNzZVB2g