ABSTRACT

In this chapter I share insights from a team coaching engagement conducted with my colleague Dean Taylor on behalf of Southampton Football Club (SFC), a top tier British Premier League soccer club. We were initially invited to work with the SFC’s Senior Management Team (SMT), an intentionally leaderless team of 12 peers reporting to the board and incorporating both the ‘football’ side of the organisation (e.g. directors of medical support, performance science and scouting/player recruitment) and its corporate functions (e.g. heads of HR, marketing, finance, IT, legal and operations). SFC operates as a business, not a ‘billionaire’s plaything’ and the board’s vision for the club was to continue its upwards trajectory on and off the pitch, becoming ‘Champions League ready’ while extending its brand and reach globally. This, the board felt, would demand even more of the club’s SMT and our brief as team coaches was to help enable the team to take a more strategic, cross-functional approach to leading the organisation, and to help each member take their own leadership capabilities to the next level. The board also asked that we help create a consistent leadership ethos while respecting and encouraging different management styles, and that the experience of the intervention and its outcome would set SFC apart when it came to leadership development – not just in sport, but across sectors.