Leadership is a focus these days. From football's EURO 2020 tournament and Gareth Southgate to Boris and the pandemic – leadership is a thing.

Leadership – Learning from the best

When we set up Emberson ten years ago we made leadership a core value for us all from day one.

Written by Andy Graham, Director, Emberson Group

Being distanced from one another made leadership even more important. Leaders have responsibilities for themselves and others. If a measure of leadership is representative of the number of followers, then judging a successful or good leader would be a simple case of counting the followers. Job done.

Unfortunately, the number of followers alone does not reveal the quality of leadership.

Leadership has many shades of light and dark. There is a big difference between false leadership and true leadership.

False leadership relies on fear, false promises, coercion, manipulation, lies, and bribes.

True leadership has one overriding quality – trust alone. Trusted leaders do the greatest things. If we lead with trust, then success follows.

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Leadership is not an entitlement, it is earned. Leaders are not born they are made. To lead you must know and embrace failure. Gareth trusted his players to be brave without recrimination for their failure. At a deeper level he created the next generation of leaders and most likely a future manager of the England team. We may have lost the tournament, but English soccer just got stronger. And in their loss, he created winners. Leaders who have not failed lack empathy. And there are plenty of those…

I have spent my whole career deconstructing and observing what makes success – looking for examples from life, rather than books. Gareth gives us a great model that can help us all. Here are some of traits we can glean from his example:

  • True leaders inspire with their vision
  • True leaders are courageous even in the face of failure
  • True leaders are humble, they celebrate the success of the team – not themselves
  • True leaders do not lie. They respect the truth
  • True leaders are empathetic to others
  • True leaders trust their team and stay with their players even when their form dips
  • True leaders know when to listen to their council outside of their echo chamber
  • True leaders know when to step aside and let others lead. They do not micromanage. They give the team space
  • True leaders own the strategy and take responsibility for the results. The good and bad
  • True leaders make difficult and timely decisions and are accountable for them

Gareth showed us that when true leadership is embedded in the team it builds a competitive level of trust that is tough to beat. True leadership builds resilience and strength in a way that false leadership cannot. Without these qualities it is possible to have followers yet be a false leader.

How true is your leadership?