Creating Collective Brilliance

Let’s say that you are a youth football coach at your local club.  The team are doing well but you are keen that they get better, maybe even try to go up a league or two.

So how do you do it?

You have a couple of stand out players who seem to show great potential. Most of the rest are keen but, in your view, they will need a greater development effort to catch up with your star players. And then there are a few in squad don’t seem to really engage properly and you’re not quite sure what to do with them.

OK, so this is what you do.

You take the star players away from the squad, and far away from the club & pitches to a residential venue.  For a week, you lock them in a classroom and go through an array of powerpoint slides and desk-top exercises. You throw in a bit of raft-building and walk across some hot coals. They sleep in unfamiliar surroundings and spend most of the day tucking into bowls of sweets, biscuits and cakes in between 3 slap-up meals – full fat-boy breakfast, big lunch, late dinner and the bar is open too.

Whilst they were away being developed, the rest of the team had to play on, a few key players down, scrambling to cover lost positions with an unsurprising drop in performance and increase in stress and, potentially, resentment!  The next Saturday, back at the club, you add your star players into the team just before kick-off. Of course, you lose – again, and again, and again!

There is no way you would do that with your work teams. Would you?

Of course you wouldn’t. It would be a crazy thing to do. Wouldn’t it?

Well, sadly, it is precisely what we do when we develop leadership in our organisations. We have created a system that selects only a few “talented” people, that are then isolated from the team, to be developed in an environment far removed from the work place. The development needs of the rest of the team are now ignored. The selected few receive elongated periods of repetitive training/teaching in an alien environment and able to test only in false scenarios. They are then expected to apply the learning within a team that knows not what they have been taught.

The training focused on developing specific skills with no comprehension of the holistic game – how to think like a football team player. It makes no sense at all. It’s crazy when you explain it this way. They may get a qualification but they are no better football players and the team is much worse off.  Due to the cost in time and money that our traditional off-site, residential leadership development programmes are being delivered, it forces organisations to focus only on “talent pools” and to ignore the development of the whole.

We all know that the best way to learn a skill is to practice the skill in the environment that it is to be applied.
We all know that the best way to increase the performance of the whole team is to develop the whole team, and the bigger the team the more this applies.

We all know that the best way to create a strong succession of capable leaders is to develop as wide a cohort of potential leaders as possible.

We also all know that, by selecting a few, our own cognitive biases come to play and we can miss the hidden potential of others that don’t fit our preconceived, subconscious filters.

We also all know that the best way to create disengagement is if people believe they are not valued and that their journey in life cannot be fulfilled through the organisation they find themselves in.

And we also all know, that regardless of how capable someone might be, if their attitude is wrong not only will we not get the best out of them, they will drag down the whole team.

The CLA is designed to address all of this.

Let’s democratise leadership development and help every single person to be the best they can possibly be, and then bring them together with purpose and meaning as one.

Let’s create Collective Brilliance.

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