August is a date in the British calendar that is eagerly anticipated by many – yes, the Premier League has now re-started, and with it the promise of a whole season of thrills and spills, and tales of triumph over adversity worthy of a Hollywood movie.
And even if you’re not a football fan, it’s not difficult to spot the analogy between the Premier League and business…both are all about teamwork and a common purpose, after all.
Neither business nor sport can succeed without everyone pulling in the right direction, and having a joined-up and harmonious team in place is so important. Whether you’re dribbling the ball to a team mate or working on a shared project with a colleague, you know you need to be able to count on their co-operation and commitment to the same end, rather than individual glory.
Team captains and managers need to understand the value of the work that goes on behind the scenes. No team ever won the cup without a whole back-up crew of coaches, physios and stadium staff. The same goes for the workplace, and whether you’re in a multinational, a start up or a small business, the principles are the same. All team members are a vital cog in a bigger wheel.
You may be just setting up a business but thinking ahead to the longer-term, and focusing on longer-term success rather than quick but unsustainable glory should be an essential part of your strategy. Managing steady, sustainable growth of your business and its scale, and having mechanisms where less experienced colleagues learn from the big stars, are similar principles in sport and business.
And just as football clubs have to manage the expectations of fans and their executive team, you will need to understand and respond to your customers’ and stakeholders’ expectations.
Nothing epitomises these points more than the story of Leicester City winning the Premier League in 2016 in one of the most heartwarming and astounding sports triumphs of this era.
Starting out as 5,000-1 outsiders who had almost suffered relegation the season before, their fortunes turned as they played consistently well throughout the season, leading to their unexpected but well-deserved victory.
In fact, it’s this consistency that seems to be one of the key factors in their success – and can be emulated if you are starting a business and seeking a similar fairytale ending.
What else can we learn from The Foxes? Staying calm under pressure – when faced with Premier League giants such as Chelsea and Tottenham they demonstrated exactly that, coolly winning match after match.
Their humble attitude stood them in good stead for their well-deserved – and legendary – win. So here’s to another season of witnessing consistent hard work across the Premier League, and seeing what we can learn from it in our everyday lives…the season starts here!