Shared leadership triumphs in sports

I can’t help to notice that in the last two major sport events in Europe, the European Championship soccer and the Tour de France, shared leadership has triumphed over traditional leadership.

Spain won with 4-0 from Germany and played in an unconventional 4-6-0 formation. According to Wikipedia this formation sacrifices an out-and-out striker for the tactical advantage of a mobile front four attacking from a position that the opposition defenders cannot mark without being pulled out of position. Owing to the intelligence and pace required by the front four attackers to create and attack any space left by the opposition defenders. The formation requires a very skillful and well-drilled front four.

As said before on this blog, shared leadership is not always required but in circumstances where creativity is needed, like in a European final soccer game, it outperforms vertical leadership.

Hence, Spain was already winning with 2-0 (a midfielder/wing player and a defender!) before the break. During the break Johan Boskamp explained on Sporza very nicely how this was possible. Spain as a group collectively neutralized the dominant leader of Italy: Andrea Pirlo. And as result his main follower and very traditional striker, Mario Bolatelli, was nowhere. After the break Spain also entered a traditional striker, Fernando Torres, who scored immediately 3-0. Hereby writing history, by being the first player to score in two successive European final games. Completely in line with the spirit of shared leadership, he never complained that he did have a lot of playtime. In addition he very altruistically gave hereafter a non-necessary pass to Juan Mata (midfielder/winger) so that he could score as well. Finally, a last sign for me, of how Spain functioned as a real team and lived the paradigm  of shared leadership was at the end. The kids of several football players were taken out on the grass.

Turning to the Tour de France, the yellow jersey winner Bradly Wiggins, recently had the following to say about leadership:

”I don’t think it’s important for a peloton to have a boss. I think we should all have our own voice really.”

”I have never felt that anyone should be above anyone else. I think at the end of the day we are all equals, especially as bike riders. And I think in the past when there have been bosses, it’s [been] more through fear than respect. [It was] certainly something that I kind of sensed anyway.”

”There are leaders in the peloton that everybody looks up to and respects as riders and I think they are more important,”  and ”They are not necessarily the ones who are always winning and stuff.”

Sounds like shared leadership, no? So, when I saw Froome waiting for Wiggins, or when I saw Wiggins and Froome (number 1 and 2 of the Tour) launching the sprint for Cavendish on the last day (who won), or Wiggins the sprint for his team mate Boasson Hagen, I was not surprised. Writing history by winning the Tour as the first British rider ever, by having Cavendish winning four years on a row on the Champs-Elysee, is a complex endeavor. And in complex situations shared leadership tends to triumph over traditional leadership.

Any comment?


About Jesse Segers

Academic Director of The Future Leadership Initiative
This entry was posted in 2. Shared & collective, Comments & events, English and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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