As this article ‘goes to print’ the English football team and its fans wait patiently and nervously for their World Cup Quarter Final meeting with Sweden. Whether that game is won or not remains to be seen but one thing is clear, this is a team that is fully invested in the task ahead and that is down to one man, England Manager Gareth Southgate.
Calm and collected under pressure he has passed his particular brand of confident composure to his young team sharing an obvious emotional connection with his players which hasn’t been witnessed since the late Bobby Robson’s days at the helm.
But why is the emotional connection so important?
You can have the best technical skills in the world, but effective leadership is all about how you relate to other people and the quality of those relationships and, as you move further up the ladder emotionally investing in your teams is a skill which becomes directly related to whether you and your teams ultimately achieve what you set out to do.
It’s not about displaying emotion as such but rather connecting with team members and colleagues as humans. Any marketer will tell you if you’re not making an emotional connection with your customers you need to change your approach and the same is true for leaders and their teams. Being emotionally in touch with your teams builds trust which ultimately creates loyalty resulting in empowered and effective team members.
It’s clear Gareth Southgate connects with those players on a personal level showing them how important they are to the team and displaying a deeper relationship than just being the boss. From his intense almost fatherly like pep talk with oncoming substitute Marcus Rashford to sending Fabian Delph home from the World Cup Finals so as not to miss the birth of his third child, he even comforted Colombia player Mateus Uribe, inconsolable after his missed penalty and in doing so shows himself as a supportive, emotionally intelligent leader who cares about people, and it’s an approach which is getting results.
It could be easy to argue here that it’s just a different England team and the connection with the manager isn’t such a factor but a quick trip down memory lane will remind of lacklustre England teams under the cool detached Sven Goran Eriksson and the disinterested Capello, technically capable of the job for sure but lacking in the skills to emotionally connect with the team.
An emotionally intelligent approach to leadership has many benefits, from increased employee retention to a greater level of brand advocacy and an inspired workforce. Southgate’s reward is clearly evident, an engaged and energetic England team – who just might bring football home….