Listen to the excited analysis of how little Leicester won the Premier League title on May 2 and certain themes keep appearing.

Claudio Ranieri? Really?’ was Gary Linekar’s reaction to the news of the appointment in 2015.

So, we have a team that was at odds of 5000-1 to win. (These odds can be found if you wish to place a bet on Katie Price to become Prime Minister).  We have a team that was consistent throughout the competition (and Leicester used fewer players than any other team).  We have a team that cost less than £30m. (Manchester City cost approx. £300m).  We have a team with a Twitter account following of 519,000 followers (Arsenal has 7.5 m)

How did it happen?

These descriptions of Ranieri’s style reverberate through the news reports.

  • “ he heaps praise on the team”
  • “ a sense he tended to lay the foundations for others to claim the credit”
  • “ a collective effort”
  • “ they worked their socks off for each other”
  • “ brilliant and canny recruitment”
  • “ it took a lot of heart”
  • “ with a typical good grace and a seemingly unshakeable bond with his players..”
  • “ Ranieri is charming and passionate and knowledgeable”
  • “ a warm, infectious personality”
  • “ press conferences started with a handshake for all in the room”
  • “ he kept things simple, lifting the pressure from his side..”
  • “ ..and the owners also invested heavily in the club’s infrastructure and player support..”

And Ranieri showed commitment to the team: he did nothing during the January transfer window, displaying complete trust in the existing squad.

Classic Leadership texts don’t contain many mentions of pizza together with the team, or of self-deprecation, do they?

There’s an old sport’s cliché that the ideal is a star team rather than a team of stars.

Creating that sense of team seems here to have involved charming human traits rather than superman leader qualities: create the best environment possible, work and play together, modestly and tenaciously work on the task in hand rather than on reputation, support each other, be light and humorous, and enjoy the work.

Perhaps it’s time to lose our obsession in business with ‘Leadership’.

We should start studying ‘Togethership’. It sounds more fun.


T80pxtreewo stories this week had something in common. Not just with each other, but with any organisation that has created a strong tribal culture. Even your family, perhaps.

So to football, and faith.

Un-hampered by any knowledge, I found it thrilling to see besuited, burly men – self proclaimedly on the side of justice for us all – march into the Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich last week and extract seven of Sepp Blatter’s FIFA High Command. Snowy white linen tablecloths and earpieces and microphones were involved. It was knee-huggingly theatrical.

The second story is that of an Ultra Orthodox Jewish sect in Stamford Hill North London – the Belz community – announcing a ban on women drivers. Designed to keep the ‘traditional rules of modesty in our camp’, sanctions are to include children of mothers who drive being sent home from their schools. Reactions from the wider community included the words ‘unacceptable’ (Education Secretary) and ‘abhorrent’ (former president of the League of Jewish Women).

We soon become clear about how outsiders view what’s been going on in these two communities – whether informed or no, right or wrong.

But what about inside?

How does that feel?

The FIFA coverage was soon in overdrive. There was little opportunity to hear from the believers. But what little did emerge was full of ‘only we’ and ‘we know what to do’ and bewilderment that outsiders didn’t understand.

A short interview with a woman who had chosen not to belong to the Belz sect offered a beautiful description of what becoming a true ‘insider’ involves.

She described the experience of finding, over time, the inner world of the group real, and the outer world… not real.
She talked of the life within the group being in full colour.

The world outside the group …. faded to grey.

To those on the inside, accusations and disagreements are all fading to grey: incomprehensible and far, far away.
The group talks only to itself, and can only recognise its own reality.

I wonder how we can all really spot this happening in our own groups? (I’ve heard quite a bit of corporate speak this week, and it all seems to deny an outside reality).  A dose of David Hockney’s latest photographs may help.

In a current exhibition he has experimented with group perspective.

He has assembled composite pictures comprising individuals all with their own individual perspectives. There is no single perspective for the group.

An unexpected energy and movement is created, just by subverting the usual ‘one vanishing point’ way of seeing the world.

And of course no part of the visible landscape is able to fade to grey.

There is colour everywhere.

David Hockney
4 Blue Stools (2014)
Photographic drawing printed on paper, mounted on Dibond, edition of 25