I have always wished for clubs with little financial power to challenge their heavy weight counterparts with massive financial power in the English Premier League and other European Leagues.
The English Premier League Crown has rotated among the “Big Four” teams in England namely; Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal, and showing no sign of changing not until Leicester City’s fairy tale Premier League triumph took everyone by storm.
The incredible achievement of Leicester City drew global discussions and excitement, not only to the sport’s world but to other sphere of life. As these were going on, I began to ponder on the lessons Leicester City and their manager; Claudio Ranieri’s feat has for entrepreneurs.
These are parts of a larger thought that came to me as I marveled at the accomplishments of Leicester City in 2015/2016 season;
Maintain the Competitive Advantage
One of greatest weapons in Leicester City armory is their competitive advantages. Firstly, Ranieri valued the importance of recovery on his players. Hence he allows his players go hard on match days and then get 2 days off per week instead of the standard 1 day almost every team is adopting. The coach strongly believed that the mind and the body need ample time to recover for further tasks.
Secondly, Ranieri did not tamper with his starting eleven, although he occasionally made some changes yet those changes did not alter the team spirit, composure and performance of his boys on the pitch of play.
Finally, Ranieri built the team around the characteristics of his players. He recognized the individual skills (Kante, Mahrez, Vardy etc.) and positive attributes of his team and played to their strengths and also by keeping the football wisdom and tactics enforcement to a minimum. Ranieri also placed emphasis on hard work, joyful football and creative self-expression on the pitch.
If Leicester City is akin to an entrepreneur, Ranieri is therefore an entrepreneur who understands that competitive advantage is crucial for business to achieve its objectives. He’s that entrepreneur who gives his employees some measure of job autonomy for creativity and job satisfaction. He is an intelligent entrepreneur who understands that sometimes, employees need rest in order to recover and kick start another day invigorated and productive.
Leicester City was among the Premier League teams doomed to struggle in the 2015/2016 season and was named among the relegation candidates. In fact, the bookmakers gave them 5000/1 odd to win the Premier League. The big English Premier League clubs who like to spend their way to the trophy had bought expensive players that will aid them achieve their goals.
As the league kicked started on August 2015, I already predicted a three horse race (Chelsea FC, Manchester City and Arsenal FC), but guess what happened on May 2016? It was a one horse race. The relegation doomed team (Leicester City) ended up winning the prestigious English Premier League trophy to everyone’s astonishment.
In the business world, Leicester City is the equivalent of a business in a competitive environment or a business startup surrounded by big and successful entrepreneurs.
There are tendencies that questions like these may cross our minds; can I succeed in this competitive business environment? How can I get to the level of the big wigs? Will I ever make it to the top? These questions engender fear which can ruin the business.
Lessons from Leicester City have thought us as entrepreneurs to be fearless in the face of intimidating and successful competitors in the ever changing, turbulent and competitive business environment.
Set and Remember the Target
At the beginning of the 2015/2016 Premier League season, Claudio Ranieri targeted 40 points for Leicester City to remain on the safety zone and avoid relegation. This target must have emerged as a result of the incredible relegation survival fight of 2014/2015 season which saw Leicester City picked 19 points out of a possible 24.
The 40 points mark was reached and eventually surpassed. This is a great story for entrepreneurs like us. It is vital to set target in business. This is because once the target is set; it is easier to channel resources and efforts of the business to the set target for quicker achievement.
Re-set Target when the Previous Target have been Attained
By the end of December 2015, Leicester City’s 40 points target was attained and Claudio Ranieri in a press conference said:
“We had 39 points in the first half of the season. I said okay, we are ambitious. We want to improve and it is important to try to get another 40 points. I know it is difficult, but that is our target now.”
Claudio Ranieri’s target changed to 79 points haven seen his team surprisingly won consecutive matches. Two months to the end of the season, the ultimate target was set; the crown after series of superb performance by his lads. On May 2016, the target was achieved.
Setting target is one of the difficult task entrepreneurs grapple to deal with. Targets like business expansion, attaining high profit margin, significant business coverage or big market share, increased productivity and product supply and enhanced service delivery are critical to business survival.
A particular target may have been achieved. This does not warrant me to fold my arms and celebrate. Rather, just as Claudio Ranieri did, another target must be set to move the business to the next level.
Keep your Best Employees
I was surprised when Claudio Ranieri decided to retain the coaching staff left by his predecessor; Nigel Pearson. It has been a culture in the football world for coaches to bring trusted backroom staff to assist in training and fitness of players, match advice, formation and tactics.
Ranieri, by this action has taught me to stick on employees’ capacities and capabilities for business survival and goal attainment.
An indispensable resource of a business is efficient employees who contribute to its growth. Leicester City boss understood this by retaining Pearson’s backroom staff. A decision that has improved his coaching résumé which an entrepreneur like me cannot forget.
Don’t Forget but Never mind Past Failures
Prior to assuming as Leicester City boss, Claudio Ranieri had the most torrid time in his spell as a Greece coach. The Italian coach lost his job after a 1-0 European qualifying loss to Faroe Islands in Athens.
Giorgos Sarris, the Hellenic Football Federation President made this statement ‘Following today’s devastating result for the National team, I take full responsibility for the most unfortunate choice of coach, which has resulted in such a poor image of the National team being put before the fans’
In business, remark of this nature scares investors and prospective business partners and associates. However, rather than being under the shadow of his immediate past failure, Ranieri dusted himself up and took up the Leicester job and the rest was history.
Chances of success and failure are inevitable in the football world as in business. Ranieri didn’t forget his past failure; rather he used it as a spring board for unimaginable feat. These are big lessons to me and to other entrepreneurs.
Image Credit: Leicester City