Leadership: A case study of Arsenal Football Club | ©Fola Daniel Adelesi
When a football club remains ‘trophy-less’ it means that one of the main aims of the club is not being achieved and in that situation, there is only one word to the coach. If I were in a position to deliver that word I would say to the coach, ‘fire the players or get fired!’
When a team is not performing you cannot always talk about hoping and trusting and believing in them when you are spending so much and getting nothing. As a leader, it is important to believe in people and let them know that you will not just use them and throw them away in order to build their confidence. In all of these, one thing must be clear to a leader. You do not build an entire team only on the confidence you have in the team and not in the ability to deliver from the team players! When this is done you will spend a lot building a team and you will hardly make much from it. If team building is what you really intend to do then make it obvious to people or the organization that you have lead. Don’t leave people wondering about what you are trying to do with your team in any work place when they have given you resources and expect you to perform.
In the game of football a coach is expected to know that when players have been given opportunities and refuse to deliver, it is share waste of time to keep parading such players as part of the team! The pitch of play is not a play to rehearse when the match has already started even though there should be learning on the job. The same applies to your organization as a leader. There are assignments you do not give to people in order to help them gain experience. They are assignments they should be trained for ever before stepping out to execute. A leader should be able to say when to give people a chance for trial and error or when to keep people in training so that they can acquire some expertise before getting a platform. When this happens, what the team player will be learning on the job will not be the basics of the job but will be ‘experiencial’ – from experience – knowledge.
After training and retraining the people through whom you are expected to deliver but they are not delivering the expected results, what must happen is a firing either in an organization or on the pitch. It will not matter who is doing the firing but every stakeholder must have it in mind that there is a firing. In the case of football, a coach can strategically relegate a player and later discard the player when the player is not performing. That is one type of firing. The other type is when the coach does not know what to do even when results are not coming and the fans begin to request that he should be fired or the club owners decide to fire. In this case it is obvious that either the player or the coach can be fired in the bid to have a more productive team to deliver the expected results.
This scenario also applies to an organization. A trainee should have a standard expectation set by the leader in the organization so that it would be seen as fair play in leadership when the trainee falls short of the standard and is fired! The other side to this in an organization is when you are the manager, or whatever title you carry for your leadership position, and you refuse to discard or fire a trainee that is not meeting standards to pave way for a performer then you are taking the risk of being fired! The business owners may do a performance appraisal and realize that you have been accommodating non-performers and that is affecting the organization then you will be the one to get out of the organization first. This is so because when you finally leave, the people you refused to eject will still be ejected strictly on the basis of performance and not prejudice!
Let me even say that you own the organization or the business and in the real sense of the word, no one can fire you then you still stand a chance of being fired by these principles I am sharing. When humans beings do not do the direct firing then the principles will. If you are always accommodating non-performers then your business will deliver less in quality and may not even deliver in time. After a while you will start losing customers and before you know it there will be no customers at all because you first refused to fire your non-performers and then your clients lost confidence in your product or service delievery!
As it is in football, the main objective is to win the match! When it is a series of matches and it is becoming a tournament then the aim is to consistently win. Football should entertain but the peak of the entertainment is winning especially for the fans.
In our lives, structures and systems that require leadership, we know that something must be done when the organization is not performing. Before the year 2001 in Nigeria when the telecommunications company was not performing, the government came in and took the monopoly of power away from the only telecommunications company at the time and gave licenses to private companies. When this was done, from less than 10.000 functional lines the country moved up to more than 60 million lines under 10 years. Prior to the time the monopoly was broken, the company in charge had been running for more than 30 years!
If you are a team either as we always have the coach in football, your aim is winning and that aim is already defeated when you hardly win a tournament and you still have a team! As a matter of fact you are called a coach so that you can help the team deliver results. In leadership and in football, there are materials – people – you can train easily and people you will find it so hard to train. To make easy for yourself, it is always better to have a team made up of
1. A lot of people you have to do a little training with.
2. Some people whose involvement with others will rub off on their performance.
3. Very few people you have to spend a lot of time training.
You need to look at the order very well and realize I started 1 will ‘a lot,’ started 2 with ‘some’ and started 3 with ‘very few.’
Your place of performance is different from your place of training! If you are the leader you must always remember that you either fire the players or get fired!
Fola Daniel Adelesi
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