Since the start of the Euro Championship, the Lionesses have made us so proud, bringing women’s football to the mainstream where it should be.
Many have watched their matches as football newbies, swept along by a mixture of pride and a delight that our team played so well.
As someone who was brought up with football being a male sport and being g taught the more ‘appropriate’ sport of netball it has really emphasised to me how far we have come towards equality- no where near where we need to be but on our way for sure.
Reflecting on the success of the lionesses I think there are some lessons we can learn about leadership in general-
Power of community –
The final in particular brought the country together- families watching g the match including many who would not normally watch- young girls in particular have been inspired and this has been magical to watch.
We should never forget as leaders the impact we can have especially on the young- we have the power to inspire others to achieve more than they thought possible.
Leaders need to remember they set the climate- positivity and self belief shouldn’t be underestimated. Look at the Lionesses and how they walked onto the pitch for the final knowing g the other team had won 8 previous finals. Germany were a team who had won all previous meetings with England- Chloe Kelly’s goal in the 110th minute giving us the win must have felt against the odds as they started the match. Sarina’s faith in her team must have played a massive part in their victory.
Don’t make change for sake of it-
How often do leaders change what doesn’t need changing? If it’s not broken- leave it be and just enhance. Sabrina was the first coach in Euro history to have the same starting lineup in every match- naming an unchanged XI in all 6 of their games.
Stick to your guns-
As leaders we need to have the courage to stick to our guns if we believe we have made the right decision- look at how Sarina put Rachel Daly in defence although her trade had been as a forward- a decision questioned by many after the match with Spain didn’t go well for her. Sarina stuck to her guns and the semi- final showed the merit of her decision- others finally got it!
The best leaders understand that it’s not about popularity- sometimes the best decisions we make are the ones that are not popular. These decisions are hard to make but necessary if we believe they are right- look at how Sarina was steadfast in the unpopular choice to name Leah Williamson as captain and didn’t pick Steph Houghton- some said this was wrong and that she deserved to go after serving her country so well for so long. Sarina disagreed and who can argue with the outcome.
Know your staff and support them to be their best
As leaders we have to take time to know our staff- to understand their strengths and how best to use these well for the benefit of our pupils and community. Sarina used her substitutions perfectly, introducing the right players at the right time.
Her team talks were centred about keeping smiling whatever, reminding players at half time to keep their calm despite unfair yellow cards- her trust in Ellen White and Georgia Stanway in keeping them on despite their being booked was great leadership.
Finally- time is no obstacle if the right leader is in place- to support the Lionesses to win the championship and show the world the amazing talent they have in less than 9 months is testament to that.
Reflections I want to remember- Lessons in leadership from our Lionesses.