Over the last couple of weeks, we have probably all read some articles on Gareth Southgate and the way he does things and who he surrounds himself with and I did not just want to cut and paste the article but more to put my own thoughts and experience around it. 

What Gareth does is build a team of experts in their fields and not just experts in football. He knows that to be successful and build a successful team, he needs to add diversity – people who think the same but come at it from different angles and thought processes

 A lot of that article jumped out at me, and I loved this bit – If there is one universal truth about human psychology, it is that we love being surrounded by people who think just like us. The Ancient Greeks called it “homophily” which means “love of the same”. It was Plato who warned “birds of a feather flock together”. How true is this? A bit part of success is the people we hang around with. If we want to be successful and we want to think differently, it makes sense to spend time with successful or success minded people. 

 You do not build success by having a team who all come from the same sector. You need views from others who are not “blinkered” and who see things differently. Gareth knew that just by building a support team of footballing people was not going to give him what he wanted – it had been done for over 50 years without any continued success – we all know that about our football team. This problem as we know does not just apply to English football. Many large corporates believe that by hiring the best people in their particular sector will give continued success. All it does is give more of the same. You need people who think different, give different viewpoints and are creative. The same applies to the small business sector. Bring people in who have the right attitude and great relationship building skills. You can teach them your industry but they come with fresh unblinkered thinking. 

 Gareth Southgate said, “I like listening to people who know things that I don’t. That’s how you learn”. Just because we may own and run the business does not mean we have all the answers. We need to be humble enough to learn from others we bring into our teams. 

 A point was raised in the article that when we are surrounded by people who think the same way, we can overlook the obvious. Classic examples include Blockbuster, which missed the opportunities of the internet despite dominating the movie rental business, and Kodak, which was so fixated on print photography that it never took the opportunities afforded by digital. These are just 2 of many examples.

 As we know Gareth and his team did not win the Euros but the team has had more success under Gareth Southgate in recent times that they have had in previous managers. We are getting closer and closer and I think as England supporters, we know that ultimate success is just around the corner.

 All I want you to do is think about your business and do what Gareth does – he thinks outside the box. He goes against the grain. He looks for opportunities to grow personally and also to help his team grow. Having a team who all know the same stuff wont help. Diversity in everything is so important. Success in business and sport is really not a million miles apart.

 Having a coach or mentor who does not understand your business is a really good idea, and this is why I will not work in the Marketing or Advertising arena as I did this for the last 33 years, and I can add better value to businesses where I have no direct connection.

This article was first published on LinkedIn by Richard Knight on 19/07/2021