Success, a word not often associated with the England Football team at major tournaments, saved instead, in recent times, for our friends across the pond in Spain and Germany. This has not been through lack of trying as a score of England managers have searched for the winning formula to little avail. So, you ask, what defines success? Who will be successful this time around in France? And is there a secret formula for regaining success? After all, who’d want to endure ’50 years of hurt’ after their last major success…

Winston Churchill, described success as “going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” In my opinion, success is extremely subjective and comes down to expectations. In consulting, setting and managing expectations on engagements is always key and the same can be said for England. Like many other patriotic England fans every time a tournament comes around, I can’t help but think; could this be our year? Football connoisseurs’ and the press alike will tell you England are currently going through a ‘transition’ and ‘building’ period but, still when we exit tournaments, we are left wanting more. Managing the expectations of all stakeholders; fans, the press and players is vital. This however is one of the major conundrums of English football; how to please a nation, that expects major success of its Three Lions in the so called ‘transition’ period but also in an entertaining manner.

So what would success have been for England? In my opinion, reaching the Quarter Finals should have been the target, but how many consultants would want to just meet their own working targets?  The target seems to always be to reach the final of any tournament we enter and I fear even the most experienced of consultants would struggle to manage the expectations of a full-hearted England fan.

So what does experience tell us about successful teams? There are many parallels between successful sports teams and teams throughout the professional world. As mentioned earlier, England are in a transitional period as a team with plenty of fresh faced talented individuals with little experience coming into the current squad. Completing the squad, there is a sprinkling of experience and some older heads – starting to ring any bells now? Many businesses and successful football teams have managed to find the sweet spot between youth and experience and getting this balance is key. The much maligned words by Alan Hansen “you can’t win anything with kids” of course are not necessarily true, however the qualities bought by more experienced team members are hugely helpful for success. Experienced members will hopefully bring leadership, past experiences and know-how to the table, with the fresh faced talent bringing the new ideas and energy to the table.

My predictions for this summer? I’m backing France to emulate their heroics of France 98’, by winning the Euro’s and uniting their nation in the process. However, in betting terms, this is very far from a banker. There could yet be many twists and turns in the Euro rollercoaster and many a ‘giant killing’ of the great and good teams but this really is why we love the Euro’s so much. Smaller teams without any great talent can come together and trump individual brilliance.

In a world where talent is too often looked upon as the biggest asset of an individual, it is important not to forget the impact of a unified team. Togetherness seem to be the flavour of the moment in the Euro’s with unity echoed through the team slogans of England (One Team, One Dream) and Wales (Together, Stronger). Successful consulting projects depend on strong links and close working relationships being created between all parties and will be key for any team hoping to progress in this year’s tournament. So with baited breath, we all await the big result of this summer; crowning the champions of Europe. The sad news being that for England the dream is over for another 4 years.  

By Sam Frost – LinkedIn