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Football - Why does Hiring for Values Count?

by Ryan Adam

· teambuilding,football,LFC,values

Building not just Creating Teams

I love football. My team will always be Liverpool Football Club, but living so far away, long gone are the days of travelling to Anfield on the No: 320 bus with my uncle. Instead, I watch my team on television and follow their social media; LFC runs through my veins like blood.


One of the frustrations I’ve experienced and articulated many times is how to build a team, not just create a team. In my team development workshops - Dr. Oetker, Nightfreight, Hewlett Packard, and many more - I’ve maintained that you bring in people who share the values you already uphold. Jim Collins, the great leadership guru, is a great believer of this. It underpins the journey from ‘good to great’. See this two-minute clip below, also featuring a young Steve Jobs!

The Problem as I See it!

The problem is we, and other teams, sign the players who are talented, but arguably have, a contractor mentality. They’re not in it for the long stay. A season, two seasons, and not many more.

I have no issues in talent that delivers, it is the short-termism of those who buy the talent, not just the players. Years ago, players stayed with teams, managers got to know their players at a deeper level, and players, in return, were emotionally connected with their teams. The teams became mature and self-desciplined.

Jurgen Klopp has done well. Salah was a great signing. Will he be a long-term asset? Well I think that is unlikely. When Suarez wanted to leave, I said in my FB posts, “Let him go, LFC will survive another season, another decade.” The brilliance he showed on the pitch did not match his attitude. He was the wrong fit, culturally, and on a team basis. When that psychological contract is broken, you cannot mend it. In any company, when someone wants to leave, they should. They are not emotionally invested in the company, they have moved on mentally, and it shows outwardly.

We need players with Liverpool in their blood. We need sustainability, not the rich picking of new signings. Home-grown talent is a better fit when there is that emotional connection. Think of Gerrard and Carragher for example. They hold Liverpool in their hearts, in their blood. Salah holds Egypt in his heart and in his blood, and rightly so. There is no denying his talent this season. But, we need to build our talent base in a different way.

I think there is a fundamental issue about how we find and nurture that talent. Like any business, you want employees who contribute over time, and well as immediately. A contractor mentality is a throwaway mentality. No-one is indispensible, but great teams only really deliver consistently when they are built over time. They have to storm, norm, find their places. They cannot just happen and that’s why a season or two is never enough. And, you have to start with values.


Ask yourself:

What values are so important to you so you build that process for selecting the right talent?


Disconnects in values will break a team. Motivation dips, productivity wanes. You start looking for the next, big thing. I've seen it before.

Evidence of Tangible Pride

I watched “Goals on Sunday” yesterday, with the wonderfully open Chris Kamara, and consummate presenter, Ben Shepherd. The almost tangible pride of the Newcastle player, Paul Dummett, even though he was nervous, stirred me. His family and friends were born in Newcastle, and are life-long NUFC supporters. I could feel his connection at so many levels. We need more of that home-grown nurturing in English football. But, money talks, doesn’t it? And the prices escalate, as does the ego. There is no room in a high-performing team for ego. I know that from the teams I’ve managed and developed over the years.

I'm an Optimist but the Worst-case Scenario is...

So, the 1-0 defeat at Chelsea is a worry. Not only will we potentially not make the Champions League next year - I pray we do - but we may not win the Champions League either. A potential double-whammy of defeat that Klopp will mull over and realise that some players were not only tired, but over-played. We have no real back-up. Now Klopp is seeking more strikers. That’s why I’m hoping the strikers are not replacements, but additions. It is how he goes about selecting and building the talent I'm interested in. We need sustainability and consistency.

I'll also be interested to see how Arsenal performs as a team, after the exit of the great, classy Arsene Wenger. I hope that the manager shares the same values as the club to create the success it needs for Premier League football. Hire right, build for the future! What are your thoughts?

When I see the leap in 'good' to 'great' performance of a well-oiled, focused, high-performing team, it is truly inspirational. If you would like to know more about our approach, check out our 5 hour course below. Learn in your own pace, with lifetime access. Videos, case studies and interactive exercises for only $47.

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