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Infinite, sustainable growth ideas and examples for strategic thinking executives every Sunday


Innovate Africa With Dotun Adeoye Every Sunday

Infinite, sustainable growth ideas and examples for strategic thinking executives every Sunday

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7 Transformation Leadership Lessons from Claudio Ranieri & Leicester City FC

Transformation has always been of interest to me. In fact, my whole DNA is wrapped around transformation as my name can be translated as “Being Transformed”. So, you understand where I’m coming from.

I am not a Leicester City Football Club fan. Far from it, I support a team wearing red in North London. Because of the Ebenezer Scrooge disposition of our manager, the intensity of my support for my team has rather gone lukewarm.

Oops! Pardon my football rants. This is not about football. Transformation leadership is the subject matter here!

Claudio Ranieri has been around for 30 years in football management. Never been known as a charismatic or transformational leader. So, when he came into the EPL in 2015, many opined that it was an “uninspiring choice”. He came in quietly, unassuming and definitely devoid of any razzmatazz.

As the season of Leicester City FC unfolded and developed, It was clear that something was definitely happening. I set aside 48 hours to think about “Leicester City 2016”; a new entry into the English Lexicon. I’ve come up with 7 takeaways. They are:

  1. Calm: Claudio Ranieri is always calm. You probably mistake his calm nature for his being aloof or uninterested. It is now clear, after reading many write-ups about him that he did have a calming effect on the team. To be a transformational leader, being calm helps you access the situation, actively listen and ultimately get to know your team.
  2. Pizza! Obviously, Ranieri promised to make Pizza for the team members if they keep clean sheets. This sounds like nonsense. However, it has achieved a magical 5,000-1 result that no one saw coming. The moral of including this, there has to be an intangible thing that holds the team together. As we know, the players can buy as much pizza as they wish, but they always look forward to the “experience and brotherhood” according to reports. Picture – Courtesy mirror.co.uk
  1. Teamwork: It is a blatant fact that you need to be a team to win in football. However, the way Ranieri built team ethos into the players made them fight for each other. “Teamwork makes the dream work”. This definitely happened. Fostering team spirit and ultimately teamwork is crucial to leading transformation.
  2. Hunger: Ranieri kept repeating the words “hunger”. The team was hungry for success. It had never experienced success. To achieve transformation, you as a leader need to make the team believe so much in the “To Be” outcome that there is so much hunger for success.
  3. “Not There Yet”: Ranieri kept using the word again and again. He instilled a travelling mentality into his players and the team as a whole. They realised that they are not there yet. Even when he was interviewed about winning the league, he simply said “It’s great, but we’re not there yet”. Achieving transformation is a long journey. The culture of “Not there yet” has to be prevalent to achieve and maintain the transformation.
  4. Experience: You need considerable experience to lead and achieve transformation. Ranieri has 30 years. You don’t necessarily need 30 years, but you need to have failed to achieve true transformation. 
  5. Not about the leader: Every time Ranieri was asked about the potential and even the actual success of the team, he kept saying that it was about the team, the fans, the chairman and everyone else. He made it clear that it was never about him. A transformational leader has to make the stakeholders feel special. Most human beings want to feel unique. Ranieri excelled here as well.

These are simple facts that I hope have proved useful. I am a digital/mobile transformation leadership consultant. Please get in touch via [email protected] or call to discuss how I may help transform your organisation.


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