Stop Creating Leadership Teams


“The three of us will form the leadership group, (but) we have a really strong group of leaders at this football club that are underneath us. We expect all of our players to buy into the standards and we didn’t really want to put titles on it as such – Scott Pendelbury.

Well you have put titles on it Scott……..Leadership Group (just saying).

I read with interest last week that in 2017 Collingwood FC in the Australian Football League had “streamlined” its Leadership Group to Three (from Five in 2016). Such big news that it was a large headline in the local newspapers with the reasons why the decision had been made to move from the 2016 structure (see photo below).

I have been challenged by the notion of Leaders and Leadership Teams having been exposed to the great work on Adaptive Leadership by Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky who refer to Leadership as a “verb”, an act if you like rather than a position or title. Leadership happens when someone steps forward and undertakes some kind of act and “dances at the edge of their authority” according to Ron and Marty.

Too often confusing reigns about Authority and Leadership and I’m suggesting that perhaps they should be called the Authority Group even though that is not as sexy as the term “Leaders” or “Leadership Group”.

Let’s look at Scott Pendelbury as the captain and what this gives him the authority to do:

  • be the first to run onto the arena on game day and possibly break through the banner
  • attend the coin toss and make a decision on which end his team will kick to
  • speak at the press conferences
  • represent the Collingwood FC at official functions as its Captain elect for 2017

Does this make him a Leader?

My answer is NO…………………

My question regarding its usage is this:

What about the other Forty One players on Collingwoods List?

Are they there to just follow the “Leaders”, not capable of demonstrating an “Act of Leadership” when it is their turn to dance at the edge of their authority? Does this mean that all the pressure is placed on Pendlebury, Sidebottom and Adams to do this based upon a title they have been given? Is that a model that is likely to bring success to this group in 2017?

It doesn’t make sense.

I’m sure these three young men are excellent role models for others amongst their list but does that make them the “leaders” because they have been voted by their peers or do they just have more “authority” than the other forty one of their teammates?

So why do AFL Clubs get so caught up in the notion of Leadership Teams and Leaders who are voted in by their peers or perhaps the “Leaders” above them (coaching staff and the executive)? The word is overused in this industry to a point where it is diluted and becomes meaningless. Listen to any press conference and you will hear the “L” Word in many different forms. I’ve been challenging this notion given the work I am doing within the AFL at present and the facial expressions and immediate reactions have been interesting to say the least.

It’s the same in the Corporate World. Get “voted” (via an Interview) to “Manager” and eventually someone will call you a “Leader” and you may even become part of a “Leadership Team” and attend the Tuesday 9am “Senior Leadership Team Meeting”

It doesn’t mean you are a Leader – more so an Actor until you take Action of some description. Dance at the Edge of Your Authority and Perform an Act of Leadership if you like.

We are all simply Leadership Actors until we take undertake Acts of Leadership

I’ve just read now that St Kilda have announced a “Leadership Group” of Eight players – so what does that make the other 36 on the list? Followers, Actors or Actions Takers?

I’m interested in your thoughts.

Mark LeBusque is the Human Manager. He has a track record in helping clients add more Human to their businesses and drive up Employee Engagement, Customer Experience and Business Results; and his 7 Step approach is based on his own experimentation as a Manager.

Mark’s first book BEING HUMAN – Why Robots are not the Answer to Business Success was launched in February 2017. For Orders click below

5 thoughts on “Stop Creating Leadership Teams”

Comments are closed.