Lions of '96..Coming Together, Competing together

Lions of '96

"Gascoigne ! Gascoigne makes it 2-0..." Brian Moore, the voice of ITV sport 20 years ago, describes the goal against Scotland which we will all remember, not least for the "Dentist Chair" celebration afterwards.

"Gascoigne ! Gascoigne makes it 2-0..." Brian Moore, the voice of ITV sport 20 years ago, describes the goal against Scotland which we will all remember, not least for the "Dentist Chair" celebration afterwards.

Euro '96 was probably the closet any England football team has come to lifting a major trophy in the last 50 years. The summer of '96 was a great time to be an England fan. Football was "coming home". Our adopted anthem "Three Lions.." was blaring out from car radios and homes around the nation. High hopes turned to genuine expectation as the team demonstrated that this might just be our time, crushing The Netherlands 4-1 in the group stages and going on to beat Spain on penalties in the quarter finals. this couldn't be our year..could it?

Our prize was a meeting with our old foe, Germany in the semi final. The rest is history... So what can we and the England Team of 2016 heading to France for Euro '16 learn from the past about teams and doing our best?

A Leader must have a compelling vision and communicate this effectively to those around them. A vision which connects to their purpose and who they believe they are. In the first instance the leadership need to recruit the right people for the right positions. Identify "talent" and crucially those who will fit the culture the leaders wants to create. We often seek exception talent, but this can come at a heavy price and can hurt the organisation because their ego is bigger than the vision.

The people selected in all roles, including the support functions must really understand the vision, must want to be part of it and have the capacity to fulfil what is asked of them. In 1996, Alan Shearer was our talisman striker, but there was a problem, prior to Euro '96, he had gone 21 months without scoring for England. A big risk you might think, but Shearer's pedigree had been proven many times before and here is what all great leaders do, Terry Venables, the England Manager at the time, told him he believed in him, he believed in every one of his team. As a leader, you MUST believe in your players 100% or your behaviour and words will leak the truth!

Trust is the bedrock for all successful teams. To be vulnerable with your colleagues, admit weaknesses or mistakes, ask for help and appreciate each other are important to building authentic relationships where important details can be discussed without "politics". Being able to apologise and accept apologies without exception.

All great teams enjoy what I call "dynamic tension", the ability have unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas. Unfortunately, far too many organisations resort to veiled discussions and politicking.

A team which creates clarity around direction and priorities and can align everyone around common objectives stand a real chance of success. In all the most successful teams problems are identified quickly through straightforward metrics and discussion. Individuals hold themselves and each other accountable to the high standards they set themselves.

These teams enjoy success and suffer failure acutely. You can imagine the feeling Gareth Southgate had when it was him who missed that crucial penalty against the Germans which put us out of Euro '96. It's important to recognise despite talent and knowledge that at times there are some things outside of our control. There are actually only two things we can ever control 100% of the time: our attitude and our effort. England of '96 gave all they had, we had massive fun following them and there can be no regrets. Beyond what I have described here there is another level of detail which contributes to success of a team. In an age where teamwork, collaboration and mental strength have become ever more important we can do worse than study successful teams in all walks of life.

Can the young lions of '16 provide us with the fun, enjoyment and take us just one step further to European glory ?...surely it's not too much to ask, after all we've been waiting 50 years...Come on England!!

Paul Miller is the MD and founder of The Mental Muscle Company Ltd. He has been transforming leadership teams of Small and Medium sized companies who want the perform better and achieve more since 2001. He would be happy to hear from you should you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this article or Contact him now for a free 60 minute exploratory meeting. 07973501099.

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