‘It’s not we win, you lose’
Any one who reads our blogs regularly will not be surprised to hear I’m a huge Seb Coe fan, and in fact last year I wrote a blog about one of the stories from his Autobiography, Running My Life, which really inspired me. (If you didn’t see it and you’re interested, you can find it on our Blog page, just scroll back to find it).
I totally get that maybe he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and recently he’s certainly had some bad press, but there is no denying some of the things he’s achieved in his very varied career.
Anyhow just the other week I noticed a programme on BBC1, buried in the schedule on a Sunday afternoon entitled ‘Can Seb Coe save Athletics?’ Naturally as an avid fan this was one for my Sky planner. Not surprisingly the programme failed to answer the very question it had posed, because let’s face it, it’s far too early to be drawing any conclusions from Seb’s IAAF presidency. However it did remind me of another story in his book, that I thought was worthy of sharing, as it’s a great example of leadership, and just like the last one I shared, it gave me goosebumps when I read it
So in Seb’s own words here’s the story:
‘No chairman and CEO have ever made it through from beginning to end of an Olympics as Paul (Deighton) and I have done. (Even Sydney, which was widely regarded as the benchmark of a great games went through 4 CEO’s and 4 chairmen.)
Neither of us cares about being universally liked. Paul’s role was to drive the organisation whilst mine’s was to protect him from all those things that might have stopped that happening. Above all, Paul and I were a team. From the outset, I told him, ‘If ever your job becomes untenable, then I go too’.
The most important thing a chairman can do is allow smart people to flourish, and by accepting the responsibility for the things that go wrong as well as the things that go right. It goes back to my father and what he said after the disastrous 800m final in Moscow, ‘It’s not “we win, you lose”. It doesn’t work like that’. That was the attitude I took with the LOCOG team. And, as far as I know, we are unique in the annals of Olympic history. Every one of our directors made it through from their appointment to the closing ceremony.. .’ (Sebastian Coe, Running My Life – published 2012)
Like I said earlier, even if you don’t like him, that’s pretty impressive stuff; and for me gives us a real insight into why so many people believe he’s the best man for the top job in athletics. If he takes the same leadership thinking into what is a fairly broken and untrustworthy organisation I for one have no doubt he’ll succeed with flying colours.
I guess for us, it’s about asking yourself – do you forge the same strong bonds and teamwork methodology that means you’re all in it together, come rain or shine; or are you a collection of individuals that just happen to be working on similar things? How well do you support each other and what are the levels of trust like in your team? Do your people really know it’s not ‘we win, you lose’?
People rightly talk about London 2012 as one of the greatest Olympic games and now I know why – it wasn’t just about the sport (fantastic as that was), but it was also about how we got there.
Needless to say my hero worship of Lord Coe is now stronger than ever….
Thanks for reading