I woke up on Sunday morning, ready to witness soccer history. Being a lifelong Manchester United fan, I have been lucky to experience more than a few such mornings. But nothing compared to this. Manchester United were hosting Leicester City in the penultimate home game of the English Premier League season. With a win, Leicester City, for the first time in their 132 years of existence, would be crowned champions of England. To give you an idea of the magnitude of this potential achievement, the odds on them winning at the start of the season were 5,000 to 1. To put that into context, when Muhammed Ali squared off against George Foreman after his three-year exile, the odds on him beating Foreman were 40 to 1.
While the game was exciting, history was unfortunately not made (Leicester City tied the game, but were confirmed champions on Monday when other results went their way). When I think about what set Leicester City apart as they fought against the odds the entire season, a key management principle stands out…
Getting the right people in the right roles and utilizing individual talents is essential to a company’s success. At the same time, while it might be tempting to jump on the next big organizational or industry trend, sometimes it is more lucrative to stick with what works.
Coached by the experienced Claudio Ranieri, Leicester City stayed true to the ability of its players and developed a direct, aggressive style that made the most of the qualities on hand. Also, in a time where everyone is keen to copy and jump on the next big bandwagon, Leicester City bucked that trend by staying true to their principle, adapting only as needed. In this age of competition, in sports or in business, it is very tempting to try to copy blueprints that have worked elsewhere, and while it is prudent to constantly seek to improve, it is even more important to remember what works best for your organization—whether that means your players or your staff. Look to maximize the qualities individuals excel at, rather than blindly trying to copy a different style. Leicester City have had a remarkable return on their investment while minimizing player turnover and ensuring maximum loyalty from the players who got them to this league in the first place.
Low turnover and increased loyalty—what business doesn’t want that?