It starts at Anfield, Liverpool UK…
Football (or soccer for the Aussies) has never been my thing but in late 2019, before the world turned on its head, I found myself at Liverpool FC’s stomping ground. My knowledge of Liverpool FC before this day was purely from my conversations with a passionate and devoted Liverpool fan called Greg Dennis, Orbit’s Director and my husband. Despite the sport simply being one of those things I went along with for Greg, I was covered in goosebumps before I had even passed the foyer of Anfield stadium.
Every staff member was a devoted brand ambassador, from the security guards to the man who poured our cuppa at the end of the match. They were all Liverpudlians who had worked there for years and showed no signs of ever leaving. It was clear every single person who was part of the tour had unwavering support and a deep passion for the team, the culture, and the city of Liverpool.
If the power of positivity comes from the top then oh boy does it come in spades from Liverpool FC’s manager, Jürgen Klopp. The infectious positivity from the crowd and the staff was untainted by the fact Liverpool hadn’t won the premier league since 1990. Their hope was not unfounded as this last season saw the club winning the premiership after three long decades. This was a bittersweet victory for Greg and all fans alike, instead of crowds and celebrations to commemorate the occasion, they cheered from home.
This all got me thinking about how a brand I wasn’t that invested in could immediately give me the feeling that I was in the presence of greatness. It is not hard to draw parallels between business and leadership as branding, strategy, training, tactics, culture and leadership play a key role in both worlds.
The importance of a clear purpose.
It is hard to find a team whose hearts burst with more pride than that of Liverpool FC’s fans.
If you have any doubts, watch them sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” an anthem that is reflected in everything they do. Even if you are an Everton or Manchester United supporter, you cannot deny the sense of oneness this song evokes. It speaks to the club’s values of standing together in times of adversity, trusting in each other and sharing the knowledge that there will be better days. Klopp has even mentioned that hearing this song chanted reassured him that he had made the right decision in moving to the club.
‘We Are Liverpool. This Means More.’ is another catch cry that speaks to Liverpool FC’s pride for both their team, their history and their story. Beyond the club’s clear identity that their chants reaffirm, Klopp provides Liverpool FC with a blueprint to work towards in line with the team’s values. United in a shared purpose, Liverpool FC members are propelled to reach their full potential.
Without a shadow of a doubt sharing a vision, realistic goals and identity with your team will keep them motivated and inspired. So whatever your business stands for, articulate it, reiterate it and ensure it is in line with your vision.
The power of empathy in leadership.
It is clear to anyone who has watched a Liverpool match that Klopp is invested in his relationship with each of the players, and he isn’t afraid to show it with his pitchside hugs.
The Liverpool team have mentioned in interviews the length Klopp goes to nurture these relationships, “In the meeting with Jürgen we had a laugh and did not speak only about football. He was interested in my personal life and that was good for me. He was not only interested in Wijnaldum the footballer but Wijnaldum the person” said Georginio Wijnaldum, Liverpool Midfielder. Klopp was also reportedly baffled when another member of staff had no idea the new left-back was soon to be a father, saying: “How can you not know that? That’s the biggest thing in his life now. Come on!”.
Whether it is on the field or in the office, trust and respect need to work both ways for a team to perform well. The ability to show compassion and connect with your team shouldn’t just stop when the match is over or when the workday is done. So take a leaf out of Klopp’s book and show genuine interest in your team to create a strong foundation.
The right people will open doors.
Having the right people on your team is critical for a successful business and a successful football team.
Klopp is invested in his team’s development and always keeps the club’s long term success in mind. It is not just about who they are on the field but who are they off the field. Klopp recruits people, not skill sets, stating, “each player that is here has a reason why they are at Liverpool.”
By not settling for quick fixes, Klopp can find the players who truly resonate with the club’s values and are in it for the long haul.
To create an engaged and productive team that shares your vision, adopt Klopp’s recruitment style and take your time in the recruitment process to ensure you make the right calls. Drop the ego and hire specialists who are more competent in their chosen field than yourself. Equally, the next time you are sifting through resumes, try not to skip over the less experienced hires as they might be value-aligned and show great potential.
…and it ends in Sydney.
While I will never be a devoted football fan (sorry Greg), what I have learnt from Jurgen Klopp on leadership will never leave me. At Orbit, our team is our family and we all share the vision of making more possible for our clients, our team and ourselves.
As small business experts, we aim to inspire and empower other small businesses to chase their dreams and achieve their goals. Whether it is in strategy, accounting, or leadership, if you are struggling to embrace your inner Klopp, book a chat or get in touch today.
Written by Kate Dennis, Head of Tech and Efficiency at Orbit.