Towards the end of the epic 2012 Sports Personality of the Year, Dave Brailsford was awarded the title of Coach of the Year for his contribution to UK cycling at both the Tour de France and the London Olympics.
In his acceptance speech, Brailsford paid tribute to the team that comes together to support the cyclists, and he added “my job is to look after people and help them to be better”.
One sentence that define the role of the leader of one of the UK’s most successful sports teams.
“My job…. an assertion of responsibility and accountability…is to look after people…
I can’t remember seeing many leadership books or courses on “looking after people”, but “a genuine concern for other” has been identified by the Corporate Leadership Council as the most important attribute that people look for in their leaders
…and help them to be better” ……
Note that he doesn’t use “make them better” “get them to be better” or even “drive their performance”, but a simple proposition of helping people to be better.
I can’t think of many CEOs, Directors or Team Managers who wouldn’t want to be the Dave Brailsford of their respective organisations. But, I’m genuinely not sure whether the same people think first and foremost that their role is “to look after people and help them get better”.
Millions of pounds and hours are spent each year by HR and OD departments on leadership and management development in a well intentioned attempt to get leaders and managers to “do the right thing”.
But maybe the starting point isn’t getting leaders and managers to “do” things in respect of “managing” people, but to focus on what they think their role and purpose as managers should be.
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