In following the England and French teams in the current round of world cup matches, several leadership issues seem to be very apparent. Leaders are required to bring out the best in their team – I would think that this is a given? Teresa Amabile, one of the writers referenced on the Creativity, Innovation and Change module of the Open University MBA, identifies six factors that result in creativity in the workplace: Challenge, freedom, resources, work-group features, supervisory encouragement and organisational support. The first of these is challenge. This should be about managers (leaders?) matching people with the right assignments to maximise their potential and keep them motivated.

When people play to their strengths then they ignite intrinsic motivation. So what of the stories that are coming out of both the French and England football camps that players have been ordered to play in ways, or in positions that do not match their strengths or even their competence?

Amabile asserts that creativity is killed when as so often happens the most eligible employee is matched with the most eligible (urgent and open) assignment, resulting often in failure.

This is also supported by the work on strengths psychology where playing to ones strengths is regarded as motivating and brings out the passion. Something that seems to be missing from these teams.

Another interesting and perhaps very damaging action is the England manager’s insistence on not announcing to the team who will be playing until 2 hours before a match. In industry we have for many years been focusing on building teams so that they can work together most effectively. This requires trust as much as anything and trust needs to be built and maintained. I am not a football expert and I do understand that players do need to be substitutable however it does seem that some of the basic premises on which good teams prove to work effectively and creatively are missing here.