Why it’s Important CEOs Show their People Love and Attention.

Why it’s Important CEOs Show their People Love and Attention.

My son, who is 17 now, was introduced to soccer when he was tiny. In fact he was born the month before the FIFA world cup in 2006. His Dad had no issue doing night duty with his new son… they spent many overnight hours watching the world cup games together.

He joined his first football club when he was five, the Tigers, and he has played for that club ever since. During these years he has learned, he has grown as a soccer player and a person, he has won competitions, experienced losses, and he has made really great friends. He has had some terrific coaches and really enjoyed himself throughout his time with this club.

Ages 12-16 make up the Youth age groups in the club, with dedicated leadership and coaches. Each year builds on the one before. Once you move on from the under-16s into the under-18s age group, you join the men’s competition. This is led by a different group of leaders within the club.

Earlier this year, during the off season, some interesting things happened. There was far less communication than had occurred in previous off seasons, I suspect because of this leadership handover from Youth to Men’s. This led to uncertainty about what was happening with my son’s team. It was unclear whether there would even be enough players to create a great under-18s Division 1 team. And my son wanted to play Division 1 in a good team so that he could become an even better player and of course enjoy his season.

As the new season approached, another club began to woo him and some of his friends to play for them. Not just any club, but of course the local rival club. The Leprechauns.

They invited my son to join their pre-season training. They introduced him to the new head coach who explained all the opportunities within the Leprechauns club. How he would have a professional coach, how they would grow his skills even further. How he would have a much better season playing with the Leprechauns than with the Tigers. He and his teammates began listening. They started to believe that maybe they would be better off moving clubs, despite their long, happy history with the Tigers.

Now the thing is, he has never been unhappy playing with the Tigers. A great club with a great culture. He has had great experiences, he has had great coaches, and learnt great skills. He has won premierships. It has been a consistently positive experience.

There was nothing wrong. Yet there was no communication from the Tigers during the off season. And so while this rival club was wooing him and telling him what an amazing opportunity it was for him, and everything they would do for him, he started to listen to them. He started to consider moving clubs from the one that he has been with his entire soccer life.

Now he is at an age where, as his parents, we trusted him to make this decision for himself. (Even knowing that he would be far better off staying with the Tigers.) We could provide suggestions and guidance and share our own insights, but at the end of the day, it was going to be his decision.

The challenge was this was not an even playing field for choosing between the two clubs.

My concern was that the Tigers were not showing him and his teammates that they were valued. They had not shown him that he was appreciated. They had not shown him the opportunity that was in front of him, not just for this season, but for many seasons ahead.

Would they stay or would they go?

Communication was absent. The leadership of the Tigers were invisible to these boys.

This was an enormous exposure for the Tigers football club. The under-18 Division 1 team is the key talent pipeline for the future of the club…both on and off the field. These are the future leaders of the club.

As the season approached, many of the boys got very close to leaving the only club they had ever played for.

(Insert Stacey’s influencing skills)

It was not until the Vice President of the whole Tigers club came to a preseason training that the leadership became visible. He shared not only how much the boys were appreciated, not only how much they were valued, not only thanking them for all of their efforts over many years, not only celebrating their successes, but sharing with them the options and opportunities for their future. What the club would do with them and for them, how the club would support their ongoing development. Including revealing to them all of the pathways that were open to them to progress into Men’s Division 1 and Premier League players. Pathways the Leprechauns could not match.

And after only one quality conversation, these boys stopped talking about moving clubs. They simply got on with their jobs, forming a great team, performing at their best, being recognised, working hard, learning, and growing together.

We are almost at the end of the football season and this group of boys have gone from a position of not knowing if they would get a first division team in the under 18s at the Tigers and questioning whether to change clubs, to staying with the Tigers and winning the competition. They have worked hard, they have trained well, and they have formed a wonderful team that does the work for each other.

It all began because their leaders showed them they were seen, they were recognised, they were supported, they were invested in, and they had options for the future.

I have been waiting all season to tell this story because I think this is a great analogy for what goes on in organisations and businesses today.

If you do not communicate to your people that you value them, that you recognise them. If you do not say thank you and appreciate the progress and the effort they make. If you do not share with your people the options, opportunities, and pathways for their future, and how you are going to invest in their development and growth, then you risk losing them. Not because they are particularly unhappy but because you do not show them the care and attention they need and deserve.

I’d love to know your thoughts.

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