There is really no better time than during a top sporting season for a healthy reminder that in business, as in sport, team culture is incredibly powerful. But as recent analyses of Southgate’s managing style have pointed out, it’s not just a matter of bringing the boys together.

Positivity in managing a collection of footballers has been key to the England team’s success in the World Cup so far, and sports psychologist Dr Pippa Grange’s contribution has had a huge impact. Reporting in the Guardian, Emine Saner sums up her 5 top tips:

  • Don’t fear failure.
  • Reframe emotions: you’re not “nervous”, you’re “excited”
  • Positive thinking is unhelpful if you’re simply fantasising. Focus on the steps that could get you to your goal.
  • Treat your employees as individuals rather than a homogenous group. Different approaches will work for different people.
  • Kindness, listening and empathy will take you further than barking orders. Use praise to motivate people.

Creating a positive and productive environment can certainly help any team’s performance. But we should also remember that compared to business managers, Southgate has it easy. Managing business culture may well be an impossible task. Few businesses can keep their employees together 24/7 to keep that culture of positivity going, and trying to do so can even be dangerous! Plus employees are often much more diverse in age, background and experience than England’s football team. But business culture can be inspired by popular culture, and perhaps these tips can be applied to the harder task of business success. Here’s some translations of Pippa’s advice for managers;

  • Promote a culture of positive learning from setbacks and mistakes, not dressing-down.
  • Listen, and trust emotions as feedback. In a trusting environment teams can explore disappointment and other negative feelings to find and share the positive passions that inspired their work in the first place.
  • Be kind, not nice. Etiquette and politeness have their place but can support cowardly management, prevent open dialogue and acknowledging challenges. Allow friendly dissent!
  • Generate regular positive sociality routines, through old traditions or new ones! Games and play provide a safe environment and teams can face tough challenges when they have used shared experiences to build rapport.
  • Celebrate! Recognise success wherever you find it. Don’t make your employees leave their joys at the door: encourage sharing of diverse personal victories and as well as professional ones
  • Be humble and accountable. Regularly review and revise goals and productive practices to avoid unattainable fantasies, paying closer attention to individual steps. Don’t forget that you and your team are in this together.

Southgate’s job is a difficult one, but there’s a clear goal in sight. Managing your business is harder, as those goalposts will just keep moving. But supporting a positive team culture means you don’t have to get there alone.

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