Performance | Apr 3, 2019 | 5 min read

Leaders Performance Digest

Millennials get ‘life leave’ at E&Y; no 3am video games with a ban of Wi-Fi; if you like high performance magic then Rubens Filho’s your guy.
John Portch

Happy hump-day one and all, and welcome to another bi-weekly dose of sports performance stories and insights, coming at you quicker than a millennial to a cellphone. R u gd 2 go? Gr8.  Let’s get cracking…

6 questions, answered

  1. What lessons can I learn from the seven seas?

Instilling confidence, improving teamwork and being humble amongst a host of other leadership lessons that we can learn from the world of sailing.

  1. Pick a card. Any card. Is it, the four of spades?

Nope? That’s because I’m not a magician. Rubens Filho is though, and he reckons magic can help us understand the human brain better, and in turn improve performance.

  1. Google, what makes a successful team?

Research from the Googlers suggests there are five key team dynamics, and here they are.

  1. Have you ever feared failure?

Probably. It’s more common than you think. Some nice original content from Brentford FC here, and another video a bit further down the page in the wellbeing section, too. Enjoy.

  1. I wish there was an event dedicated to wellbeing in sport. Any ideas?

Funny you should ask. We’re hosting one at Manchester City on May 21. Get involved. Can’t make the trip across the pond? Fear not, our flagship US event will be in Atlanta on June 25-26. Enquire here. See you there!

  1. What do top soccer players have in their heads?

Radars, according the Arsène Wenger. Don’t believe him? Check out this piece, which also references good friend of Leaders, Geir Jordet, and his research on ‘scanning’.

The Digest, Digested

Centre of attention

It’s your bi-weekly dose of brilliance from Adam Grant as he tries to help us all become better leaders. This time around, he highlights that the key to being more productive is not to analyse how you spend your time, but in fact to pay attention to what consumes your attention. But if you mind does start to wonder, it may not always be a bad thing.

It’s likely that something you are passionate about will consume your attention most of the time. But, although usually seen as a positive, there is a right way to follow your passion as it can be both a gift, and a curse.

Haters gonna hate

To optimise a group, whether that be within a sporting arena or in the office, it pays to take a deep psychological approach to selection. Much of this is harnessing cynics and disruptive influencers, just ask Rugby World Cup winners Maggie Alphonsi and Matt Dawson.

The Followership of the Ring

Whether it a boxing ring, a basketball court or a soccer field, maybe there needs to be as much recognition to good followership as there is to good leadership? If so, there are plenty of lessons from the dancefloor.

But if it is good leadership you’re after, LBS have some tips on how to act like a leader, and therefore think like a leader – redefine your job, network across and out, and be more playful with yourself.

Notorious BIG

Not the hip-hop GOAT (discuss…), but in fact the word ‘big’ is notoriously added to many things these days to make it sound more innovative and impressive, such as ‘big data’. So, have we reached peak big? Maybe. Or maybe the Sky’s the Limit…

And when it comes to teamwork, it seems that big is the loser once again – with a new study finding that smaller teams do much more innovative work when compared to larger teams.

Die Kinder are alright

Manuel Neuer, Ilkay Gündogan, Mesut Özil, Leroy Sané. All beneficiaries of the academy at German club FC Schalke 04. What makes the youngsters so good? A melting pot of different cultures stemming from the city’s traditional the coal mining communities has definitely had an impact.

The word ‘humble’ may not always be associated with young sports stars, but researchers have learned that humble kids have one main thing in common – purpose.

E + Y = 12

Another millennial-influenced decision would be that of Ernst & Young introducing 12 weeks of ‘life leave’ for their Australian employees. A move that acknowledges a growing demand for flexible work environments, according to E&Y’s People Partner, Kate Hillman.  *Immediately adds to the Leaders suggestion box…*

What’s the magic word?

STATS, apparently. From card tricks and Hackney magic earlier to Orlando Magic now, the NBA franchise will be the first to utilise artificial intelligence software AutoSTATS in draft prep. Queue the gut feel vs. data debate, but this may well be a way to utilise both.

Should they stay, or should they go?

When a star player or staff member wants to leave, the immediate reaction is probably negative. Should it be? In the words of 76ers’ CEO Scott O’Neil, this can absolutely be a ‘palms up’ scenario, and here’s why. But if you do want them to stay, here are some tips on how you should approach the conversation.

Ole’s at the wheel…
One man staying is Ole Gunnar Solskjær, as he was appointed Manchester United manager on a full-time basis last week. He’s surpassed expectation and made a real impact since took over as interim boss – so here are some leadership lessons from the Red Devils’ former No. 20.

Cardinals Sin, or Patience of a Saint?

A couple of top coaches introduced some interesting new rules this week. Southampton FC’s manager banned Wi-Fi from the training ground, while Arizona Cardinals’ new head coach introduced cellphone breaks for players. Protecting players from outside distractions is becoming ever more important, so it may just pay to be mindful of millennials…

Mental Health – let’s talk about it.

Join the conversation at our Leaders Meet: Wellbeing event at Manchester City FC on Tuesday 21 May, 2019. Register your interest here.


How do you deal with conflict? Head on? Run a mile? Here is friend of Leaders, Michael Caulfield, and other members of the Brentford FC backroom staff sharing their views.


The age old debate on how to evaluate human beings. Here’s a piece based on Christopher Phillip’s thoughts on what Baseball can teach us, articulated in both words and also audio by Louis Menand of The New Yorker.

It’s a numbers game

5 keys to…

unlock innovation

7 books from London Business School…

…to help you be more creative

9 leadership lessons…

…from New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern

100 best business books…

written by women


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