It would be remiss of me not to start this week’s blog without mentioning the main event of the weekend. In case you haven’t heard, the Cotswold Fayre Charity Ball went off very well on Friday evening! The exact total raised I don’t know at the time of writing, but a number of generous people within the speciality food sector made it a very good evening for the children of Bala, Western Kenya. As I said in my introduction at the beginning of the evening, there are very few events of this kind within the sector, and I think we are poorer for it. Suppliers, customers and competitors socialising together can only be a good thing and generate more ideas and energy for us all, so it would be good if someone else could pick up the baton at some point.
The World Cup match on Saturday completed a great weekend, and I was thinking about how well Gareth Southgate has led this England team since he took over as manager a couple of years ago. He has built a good team dynamic, ensured that the team are humble, reduced expectations and instilled confidence. He is indeed a great leader – long may he continue, as he is the main contributor to this England success, I believe. He is also helped by the fact that the superstars that used to be in the team are no longer there – the Beckhams, Rooneys, Gerards and Lampards are all retired and we seem to be far less reliant on a few in the team, which has created a more cohesive unit. You could argue that Harry Kane is a superstar, but he is very down-to-earth and I am sure doesn’t think of himself in that way.
What has been created within this England set-up is what Steve Sinek calls the ‘circle of safety’. I have just finished his book ‘Leaders eat Last’ which I can thoroughly recommend. Sinek talks about businesses only really being able to prosper and foster creativity and growth when the leaders of those business create a safe place within the business or organisation for the team to feel safe, and, as a result, contribute far more positively to the development of the company. Businesses with a very macho, un-nurturing culture where jobs are not safe and where hiring and firing are commonplace do not have this circle of safety and these businesses are likely to fail. In these organisations the staff are more concerned about protecting themselves rather than contributing to the whole. For businesses to prosper there needs to be creativity and freedom for the team to make mistakes without fear of reprisal.
I believe this is what has happened within the England team squad recently – and look at the results so far. Compare your own businesses and see to which type of organisation you are most similar. I will leave you with the statement inside the cover of ‘Leaders eat Last’ which is a great way of summing this up:
“Leaders are the one that run headfirst into the unknown. They rush towards danger. They put their own interests aside to protect us or pull us into the future. Leaders would sooner sacrifice what is theirs to save what is ours. And they would never sacrifice what is ours to save what is theirs. This is what it means to be a leader. It means that they choose to go first into danger, headfirst toward the unknown. And when we feel sure they will keep us safe, we will march behind them and work tirelessly to see their visions come to life and proudly call ourselves their followers.”