Menu Search

Leicester’s lesson in leadership. (2016)

Leicester City is a football team that dines ravenously on we-ness and (manager) Ranieri is now head chef.

Alexander Haslam, University of Queensland; and Stephen D. Reicher, University of St Andrews
The Psychologist, June 2016. Vol.29 (pp446-449)

“…from an early age we are encouraged to see ourselves as leaders … as individuals with some special quality that eludes ordinary mortals.

“And so, when we aspire to become leaders ourselves, the question in our head is characteristically whether we too have that special quality. Are we made of the right stuff – a stuff that allows us to outshine mere followers?

“It is a highly profitable view, both for those who run costly training courses to help us discover our inner leader and for leaders themselves who can use the idea of exceptional qualities to justify exceptional salaries. …

“… there is a long history of leaders whose success seduced them into thinking that they were above everyone else, who came to believe that they alone knew what to do, and who thereby transformed success into failure. Hubris.

“The problem, then, is not simply that it is wrong to think of leadership solely in terms of the characteristics of the individual leader, but that by doing so we actually compromise performance and organisational effectiveness.

“The simple reason for this is that, as Warren Bennis has repeatedly observed, leaders are only ever as effective as their ability to engage followers. Thus, however great their vision, leaders are more likely to be dismissed as lunatics than lauded as heroes if they cannot convince others both to share their vision and to work hard to translate it into material reality. Without special followership, special leadership is nothing.

“To see this in action it is instructive to move to Leicester … Leicester City is a team that dines ravenously on we-ness and (manager) Ranieri is now head chef.

“…the importance of speaking for the group is at the heart of what we refer to as the ‘new psychology’ of leadership…”

Leave a comment

Back to the top
We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't accept comments that are unsubstantiated, unnecessarily abusive or may expose the Trust in any way. All contributions are moderated before being published.

Comments are closed.