Sarina Wiegman, Dutch by nationality, has been taken into the nation’s hearts but not just for the success she has brought to the England women’s football team but also for her style of leadership which has won over all – men and women. She is rightly been lauded as a case study in modern leadership.
One of the features of the era, post pandemic, is how many have rejected traditional alpha leadership styles and most especially the controlling nature of passive aggressive environments which so dominated many work cultures post the financial crash of 2008/9 and indirectly have led to the disengagement across so many cultures and industries.
In contrast, has any England team played with as much freedom and joyful spirit in the last sixty years? Win or lose, one does feel they just enjoy the game and have become fearless. So often England sporting teams and business seem to play by numbers rather than with flare and with freedom. What this leadership team has done has freed up its players to have the courage to play their own game as can be seen with the Ruso goal.
Sarina Wiegman is a meticulous planner who has built a strong, positive culture which has a belief if what the team can achieve together. It is almost old fashioned and a throwback to a mix of the cavalier spirts of past era combined with modern professionalism.
At the helm, Wiegman has been calm, but also ruthless. She appointed a new captain and left the old captain out and she has shown how she has a plan for every scenario. In the matches, she has changed personnel and plans has she has seen fit. One can see that the players have trust in her and in her direction.
Maybe most telling was when she missed the last game in the group stages due to Covid. There has been a strong commentary on how her return for the next match not just lifted the players, but it lifted the crowd and the atmosphere. For a relatively quiet, reserved character this says all about how she has built a strong culture.
Together it has led to the discussion as to whether a women’s manager could ever be appointed to run a Premier League team or Men’s international team?
This was the subject of a successful TV series – “The Manager” starring Cherie Lunghi – in 1990 which is now over thirty years ago. Why not is the question? This would still be a major step away but is a future possibility. The coach of the Australian Women’s cricket team, admittedly male, which was seen to be one of the best sporting teams in all sport, was appointed to run the England men’s white ball teams – so is it not far away?
Are there lessons to learn because the women have arguably played a far more exciting, positive game than often the men have over the years? It has been the mentality which has shown out.
It does set all questions to consider.