On Thursday 12th September BBC Coventry and Warwickshire held a Sky Blues fans' forum live from Coventry’s Standard Triumph Club. Manager Steven Pressley faced the fans, flanked on one side by his Assistant Manager, Neil MacFarlane, and on the other by the Club Captain, Carl Baker.
During the course of the meeting, a business psychologist posed a question to Neil and Carl about Steven’s capability as a leader. Having witnessed the recent transformation of the team, the questioner enquired about the key characteristic that Steven possesses which accounts for his leadership success.
Carl Baker, without hesitation, declared, “I’ve played under a lot of top managers over my career but the Gaffer, for me, is the best one of them all. His man to man management skills are fantastic!” Carl’s plaudit reveals an important element to Steven’s influence, for he clearly forges a special one-to-one relationship with each and every player. However, Neil went further in his answer, giving the audience an even deeper insight into Steven based upon their long-standing and close professional relationship. Neil stated that the one particularly telling quality about Steven’s leadership is that, “No matter what is thrown at him, he just deals with it, and never moans about it … that’s the main thing, no matter what is thrown at him, he’ll deal with it.” Here, in one crystal clear statement, Neil defined a core quality of Steven’s obvious success - no matter what difficulty befalls him, he stands firm and is a rock to all around.
This type of leadership has been called ‘Secure Base Leadership’. The leader who acts as a secure base, firstly offers closeness, support and a sense of belonging to his or her team. Secondly, from this base, the team dare face any adversary with courage. This style of leadership also unleashes a creative energy of the type described by Carl Baker where, “After you wake up in the morning you are excited driving to training. The atmosphere around the ground is unbelievable.’ In this way, the secure base leader stimulates an action orientation and proactivity within team members such that each player steps out of their comfort zone and strives to fulfil their untapped potential. All Sky Blue players are showing clear signs of this and, despite the second half on Saturday, they will regroup under Steven’s leadership and continue to grow from strength to strength.
(More about secure base leadership can be found in George Kohlrieser’s ‘Hostage at the Table’ and his latest book, ‘Care to Dare’)
Source: Coventry MAD