England women's football manager Sarina Wiegman and players Mary Earps and Chole Kelly

The Lionesses – nearly pitch perfect

The Lionesses – England’s football team, a team of loveable characters, who are a battling and inspiring example of continuous improvement and agility, driven by a brilliant and consistent leader.

There are so many leadership articles, management theories and ideas that use sporting analogies, it seemed a bit lazy to conjure up another. BUT, the Lionesses – England’s oh-so-nearly world champions – I definitely want to write about them. There’s so many things about them that are worthy of praise – and over the last couple of weeks I’ve probably spent a bit too long reading about them on the internet. 

Whether it’s about the collective squad, the coach, or the individual players themselves; about what they have achieved and the legacy they are creating – the culture they have built, or their methods, strategies, and the tactics they deploy. Reading about how they are organised, and how they behave – their clear awareness of the context they play in, what it means for society, and the issues they still face, yet despite those challenges, the energy they give to create space for themselves and future generations of female football players. 

England’s football team are excelling in every way and creating a new understanding of what it means to represent England on the world stage and adjusting how, as a nation, we are perceived. I also enjoyed the article by Harriet Walker paying homage to their high ponytails and the influence they are having on hairstyles up and down the country – for one I’m particularly pleased about that, as it’s one of the few styles I am able to do for my daughters. 

But it just goes to show that to develop a high performing team, actually the second best team in the world, based on that near miss at the final, you need to work on all of those things collectively and with consistency. You may have the talent, but be missing the right strategies, you may have those two things locked in, but not be nimble or astute enough to choose the right tactics on the day. As a leader of any organisation, you need to stay across it all and bring it all together time after time after time. 

Sarina Wiegman has done just that – not just for the Lionesses in the last two years, but also for the Netherlands. That she has reached 4 consecutive major finals with those two sides shows that it is the vision she creates for her teams combined with the operational execution that delivers consistent results. 

At Mindyasa we consistently help leaders gain clarity in their vision, their strategy, and culture, and then we deliver flow throughout the organisation through new ways of working, efficient and optimised organisational designs and development, with enhanced cultures – identifying new values and behaviours that get the best from people and teams. You can read more about our work here. To do so requires that commitment to make changes and develop – to build on what you have and make it better, to pay attention to what is working and what needs improvement. It’s a job that’s never done, and there’s always an opportunity to explore, learn and grow.

But now it’s a couple of days on from the Women’s World Cup final in Australia and still they continue to impress. It was the ultimate disappointment for them – but to me what they achieved still feels like a massive win. The way they went about their business, the way they behave both on the pitch and off of it shows us what they are all about.

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