Cycling vs Football – An Exchange of Leadership Views

Photo by Anita Ritenour

It’s odd, but neighbours often don’t talk to each other. In this case it is perhaps even odder that neighbours haven’t talked until now when you consider that they are two leading performers in the world of sport: David Brailsford, the presiding genius of Team Sky and the British cycling team, the man who lead the first British victory in the Tour de France, and Roberto Mancini, the manager of Manchester City, last year’s Premier League football leaders.

Most of the British press reported the coming together of these two successful managers as Mancini visited Britain’s National Cycling Centre, which is almost next door to Manchester City’s ground. Of course, Mancini was interested in how Brailsford could deliver such consistent performance levels, but was baffled as to how he could apply the methods that delivered periodic victories to his need for constant wins over the course of a season. His most notable response was that: “Sometimes we need to work harder. You can win only if you work hard.”[1]

Brailsford, on the other hand, was interested in how you manage large and highly paid egos. His problem, particularly in regard to the Tour de France, is that there is only one person on the podium, but it requires nine top class cyclists to get that one person there. He was therefore very interested in Mancini’s handling of some significantly awkward people such as Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli. His conclusion was that: “There was one guy in charge and one guy only. He is the boss and the manager. It was clear that the individual concerned was aware what he was expected to do and if he didn’t do it, then something would be done about it.”[2]

So, highly acclaimed leaders both. But when it comes to the leader’s job, the basics apply:

Work hard – Be clear about what you want from your people – And look outside your business for good ideas.

Which raises the question for other business leaders: When did you last deliberately talk to your neighbours to look for new ideas?

[1] Jim White, The Telegraph On line, 5 Oct 2012

[2] Ibid

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