Leadership (with a small ‘l’)

Leadership in a sporting context is often very visual: the captain’s armband, a vocal player on the pitch or a passionate coach giving direction from the sidelines.

And leadership can be similarly visual in a business environment where a job title, having line management responsibility or – although less so in the modern workplace – occupying a dedicated office are outward signs.

This is Leadership with a capital ‘L’.

Back to sport, we’ve been working with England Rugby’s young players to help them build their character through some challenging off-field development activities. Some of these great young players are currently representing their country in the first team in South Africa, and this weekend will be another test of character following the team’s first-Test 42-39 defeat on Saturday which saw South Africa fight back from 24-3 down to take the victory.

(As I write this, the U20s have their own preparations underway for tonight’s World Rugby U20 Championship Semi Final against South Africa in Narbonne having qualified as top seed through the group stage. I’ve got to know this young group really well over the last 18 months and watching them tonight from the stands will be another very proud moment.)

I’ve been asked whether Leading Edge’s development work with England’s next generation is about leadership, and although it started out in that way, what we’re actually doing is leadership with a small ‘l’. It’s not about captains or people who lead parts of the game, it’s about developing character and leading when it’s not, officially, your ‘job’ to do so.

In the world today – whether in business or sport – we can’t expect leaders to have seen and done it all before and rely on them to guide the way for us. A leader in today’s fast-paced world is someone who has the character to lead themselves, to always show up as the best version of themselves and to contribute to the team, enabling and inspiring those around them to be the best they can be.

Go well, boys!