The Belgian Red Devils as inspiration for your leadership (culture)

The Belgian Red Devils as inspiration for your leadership (culture)

13 June 2021
David Van Der Smissen
David Van Der Smissen
  • 📣 Ready to cheer our national team to the EK title? 📣

  • The link between sport and business is not new, and the road to success in both sport and business has many similarities. When coach Roberto Martinez came onboard in 2016 to lead the Red Devils, many Belgians were skeptical. Did he have the experience to lead our most talented generation ever to a price? Five years later, we can say that he has done an excellent job getting the best out of the talent pool at his disposal. Roberto Martinez today is a natural leader of his troops and has earned the respect of many, including his players and the wider audience.

    His view on leadership is outspoken, engaging, and relevant for all of us in business leadership roles too:

    ⚽️ As a leader, you want to get a group of brains thinking in the same way to achieve the same goal.

    ⚽️ To do so, you need to understand why each individual is there. Individually different, but all valuable. “I don’t believe in sayings like “there is no ‘I’ in team.” You need to satisfy the individual first, then create a team based on fulfilled individuals.

    ⚽️ Everyone in the group needs to have absolute clarity in their role. Sometimes as leaders, we decide but don’t ask if people are happy with that role and responsibility or if they can do it.

    ⚽️ Constant improvement is a crucial element you want to install as a leader. You can never be in a high-performance group if you don’t improve what you did yesterday. It could be at every level; it could be minimal. Being able to arrive earlier, having better communication. You don’t always need to measure the impact on the end product of your performance.

  • We live in a world of constant change

  • This culture of constant improvement is the foundation of new cross-company leadership. Change is everywhere and is coming to us at an unprecedented speed. Business and revenue models are changing because of digital; people must deal with all this change.

    Change can feel natural for some, but most of us human beings have difficulty processing change. You want to make sure your employees embrace the new direction your company is heading towards or the new way of doing things. Big bang changes are often not a success and hard to digest.

    To prepare your employees better for the constant change (let’s face it, this is the new world we live in), you might want to go for a step-by-step approach. Consider installing the ‘1% improvement ideas in your company culture:

    • How can you write your e-mail 1% more impactful?
    • How can we run this 45-minute meeting 1% more effectively?
    • How can we make 1% better use of Microsoft Teams as a collaboration tool?

    Small perpetual changes lead to big results in the end. Fingers crossed this also guides our Devils to the cup on July 11!

Struggles of a manager

Managers are

  • not or inadequately trained in this role


    • lack self-confidence
    • don’t know how to go from being a colleague to being a boss
    • need to loosen up on the command & control leadership style
    • must let go of the (technical) expert status
    • cannot give or accept constructive feedback
    • feel pressure to perform as manager
    • have difficulty building relationships
    • want to be liked by everyone or want to be the ‘bad boss’
    • play the hero
  • are struggling


    • stay too involved in operations
    • have trouble prioritizing
    • cannot delegate
    • fear conflict situations
    • disconnect from the team
    • deal with flawed strategic thinking
    • do not relate to higher management
    • lack clear communication skills
    • remain not self-aware
    • avoid difficult conversations
    • miss political antennas
    • ...
  • capable of more


    • need mental preparation as successor
    • need to be able to lead big changes ahead
    • need to learn to be emotionally resilient and in control
    • need to learn to make big decisions fast without all the information
    • must become persuasive presenters
    • need to learn how to cultivate their own personal brand
    • need to learn how to lead by example
    • manage by trust, not by fear
    • need to overly develop empathy
    • ...
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