Why Di Canio may be just what SAFC needs…for now

courtesy of bbc.co.uk

courtesy of bbc.co.uk

Why Di Canio may be just what SAFC needs…for now

Many a football fan will be waking up today to the news that Paulo Di Canio is the new manager of Sunderland Football Club. Di Canio is a character who splits opinion. A genius on the pitch as a player, capable of amazing skill; but a self-confessed fascist off the pitch who was once banned for giving a Nazi-style salute (he described it as a Roman salute). But what do we know about his leadership style and will it help Sunderland to avoid relegation with 7 games left?

Read a full review of Di Canio at his previous, and first, managerial appointment here . He was renowned for demanding very high standards of discipline, which could be broadly summarised in a tee shirt logo as “My ay or the Highway”. Di Canio’s time at Swindon was characterised by frequent outbursts, dysfunctional relationships…and success in the form of promotion in his first season. The approach used is typical of the Autocratic style of leadership, as described by Kurt Lewin back in 1939. And the Autocratic Style is just what Di Canio seems to exemplify.

The Autocratic style of Leadership is perfectly suited to situations where there is great urgency, and time is short. This perfectly describes Sunderland’s situation in the English Premier League today. So, he may be just the right man to help Sunderland avoid the drop. However, as he found at Swindon, he does not have absolute authority, so he is going to have to develop other leadership styles, maybe more collaborative. The smartest Generals, who are rarely on the field of war but observe from the sidelines, know that you need trusted Lieutenants to carry out your orders on the field. Di Canio will need to identify, or bring in, people he can trust.

Similarly, he needs to foster relationship with the Chairman and Board if he is to get the autonomy and funds he needs to succeed.

I won’t be surprised if he succeeds this year (though as a Newcastle fan, I hope it starts after the Tyne-Wear derby). After all, when there is a fire, you need a fireman to take control and douse the flames. But what about when the fire is out  and you need to win hearts and minds  and inspire people? Perhaps Di Canio could do worse that read a bit of more recent Leadership theory. I would suggest a bit of Kouzes and Posner  .

The Apprentice Week 6 – Leading from the front.

Edna finally made a reappearance in Week 6 of the Apprentice after hardly being seen for the last few weeks. It is clear to see why Executive Business Coach and Multiple Degree holder Edna has been missing, as she promptly got fired amidst claims of her taking credit for other people’s successes. Many people would say that this is exactly what an Executive Coach does!

Edna was part of team Venture, and had never lost a task. Venture was lead by Zoe, who assumed the role of leader as she wasn’t prepared to spend time discussing it. This proved to be indicative of Zoe’s approach to this task and her leadership was found wanting. Zoe misunderstood the strategy for securing the contracts on Day one, Consequently Venture failed to get either of the 2 contracts. It was noticable that Glen, not Zoe, gave the motivational talk to get the team focused for Day 2. Zoe had ended Day 1 in tears. Ultimately, Zoe survived despite admitting her mistakes, but its the last chance saloon for her.

Team Logic adopted a high risk strategy of paying nothing to remove the rubbish in the hope of maximising profit from the sale of recyclable items. Led by Helen, who also hadn’t lost a task, they secured both contracts. In the end they were lucky to win  (by only £6).  Jim, severely criticised by Lord Sugar last week, adopted a low key, low risk approach. He and Tom gave great impressions of Rag and Bone men as they scoured the streets of London in search of metal.

So, in summary, Helen’s team Logic had focus, took risks and apart from nearly overstretching themselves finally got Tom his first victory. Zoe’s team Venture lacked a cohesive strategy on Day 1 and Zoe’s leadership style was at best questionable, especially where Susan was concerned. Susan DID understand the strategy for securing the contracts, but was shouted down by Zoe. To lose by £6 from this setback ( the lowest gap in The Apprentice history) shows how well Venture did on Day 2, when the team pulled things back.

In the boardroom, Zoe appeared to align herself with Glen.  Zoe chose to bring Edna and Susan back in front of Lord Sugar. Zoe came out fighting, and in the end Edna’s bandwagon-jumping approach and MBA speech (Lord Sugar seems threatened by highly educated candidates who try to use their qualifications as a reason to stay) rescued Zoe. As leader, Zoe  probably should have been fired, but at least she owned up to getting it wrong on Day 1. Lord Sugar gave her credit for this, but warned Zoe he would not be so forgiving again. Edna dug herself into a hole, when she tried to justify her part in the task with “coach speak”. What Lord Sugar is looking for is a business partner, a do-er, not a coach or consultant. Edna never looked like the right type of person for this task.

From an Action-Centred Leadership Approach we can see that Helen scored highest on the three parameters of Task, Team & Individual:

Task – Helen was clear and focused, Zoe was not.

Team – Neither leader did particularly well, but both were strong in the face of challenge. Unfortunately, whichever leader lost was likely to find the team turn against them.

Individual – Zoe should have listened more to Susan, as she was the only one who understood what was needed to secure the contracts. Helen allowed Melody to challenge both herself and Natasha, but remained strong throughout.

So poor leadership from Zoe should have resulted in her being fired. She survived because everyone in the team agreed that Edna had a tendency to claim glory from other people’s successes. This had already been pointed out by Nick and Karen. Lord Sugar said he couldn’t see how he could work with someone like Edna. In the end this probably counted most. What Edna failed to realise is that it may be ok for a coach to sit in the back seat, but a leader has to lead from the front.

Favourite to win : Natasha, but Susan’s stock has risen this week.

Sales – the oldest profession

We have all been told what the oldest profession is, but of course, it is actually sales. Think about it, before someone can pay for your services they have to be sold!

When I was a wet-behind-the-ears young salesman (long, long ago), I was introduced to a simple concept that had an amazing effect on my sales success. Here’s how it goes…

The world is full of problems and one way of looking at selling is as a form of problem solving. As sales people we aim to use our products or services to overcome problems the customer may be having.

However, obviously we can’t fix every problem. A problem that our product can fix is called an opportunity in sales and marketing terms. Now, many inexperienced sales people are good at recognising opportunities, and they go straight for the jugular with a feature-benefit volley. But they don’t get the sale. Why not?

Well, successful sales people know that it’s meeting a customer need that persuades the customer to buy. A need is a problem that your product can fix and the customer wants fixing.

So, next time you are in front of your customer and you recognise an opportunity, take a breath and just confirm with the customer that it is actually a need. A simple question like, “and is having that important to you?”, answered in the affirmative tells you all you need to know and now is the time to let rip with the features and benefits. Of course, if the customer says “no” then you will have to find a new angle to explore.

If you are struggling with getting sales, try this approach and you’ll be amazed at the results. If you are still not convinced, why not contact me for some one-to-one coaching or attend my next Sales and Marketing Master Class.

Happy selling!

Influential communication – does body language matter?

The fundamental purpose of influential communication is to persuade others to behave the way you want them to. This has numerous applications in sales, marketing, leadership and management. A key question in trying to do this is “does body language matter?” The simple answer is “yes it does!”

The Social Styles model was developed over 40 years ago and has been refined and expanded since that time. Social Styles can be used to influence the behaviour of others, and at the heart of this model is the reading and adaptation of behaviour; first our own, then that of other people. But where does the evidence come from that adapting body language is important?

Back in the 1970s, a researcher at the University of California in Los Angeles identified the importance of body language to verbal communication. Now, the work of Professor Albert Mehrabian has often been misquoted and used to explain / justify much beyond his original work, but the gist of what he found is as follows: getting our message across to other people is about much more than just choosing the right words.

In fact, Mehrabian showed that words only contribute about 7% to the effectiveness of communication, with tone of voice (38%) and body language (55%) being much more important. In particular, it seems that we need more than just the words to decide whether we believe the speaker (or even to decide if they believe what they are saying ).

That is not to say that the words are unimportant. Change the words and you change the meaning. However, the words are not enough on their own.

Still not convinced? Well, just think about how the intent behind the words becomes more ambiguous as we move from face-to- face communication, to telephone, to e-mail and txt!

Notice that according to Mehrabian, over half of the message we take from verbal communication comes from reading body language. Now, most of this is going on at a subconscious level, but it does make sense. For instance, we are able to discern possible danger to ourselves by interpreting body language, and this has been a vital survival mechanism throughout human evolution. You disagree? Well, next time you see someone coming towards you with a bloody knife and a deranged expression on their face what will you do; take precautions, or wait to confirm your worst fears with a simple verbal, “do you intend me some harm?”

So, body language does matter and Social Styles allows us to maximise the 93% of communication that Mehrabian says is vital to understanding and influencing other people. Clearly this is key to successful sales, marketing, leadership and management.

Learn more about Albert Mehrabian