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Life and business lessons from Leicester’s victory


Claudio Ranieri, an amiable, jolly, simple family man is probably the most talked about man on earth now! He didn’t raise the dead or marry Kim Kardashain…no! Mr Ranieri manages a club in England, Leicester City, which historically has not been very good. In its 132-year history, Leicester City, a club with nowhere near the resources of glamorous rivals such as Manchester United and Chelsea, had never won England’s top league. But today this unassuming Italian man who is not THE ONE is the man of the moment, as the club is the current English Premier League champion.

In an age when success has long seemed restricted to a predetermined few, Leicester’s achievement can hardly be overstated. Little wonder it is generating a lot of excitement in the sports world. Soccer lovers are particularly enthralled by this unlikely victory, as it is often exhilarating to see an underdog do so well.

Soon enough, Mr. Ranieri will become a case study in Harvard or Oxford and he will take over the corporate speaking circuit! But before the empirical research begins, let me share a few vital business and life lessons I have observed in the success of his team.

Be Hungry For Success –Right from the sound of the very first whistle of the opening game this season with Sunderland, which they won 4:2 it was clear from all indications that this team had their eyes on the ball! They were hungry for success; from the manager down to the most reality-scarred fan! They had a clear philosophy that everyone believed in and worked towards. It was clear they had come to win. So when you embark on any business venture, with what attitude do you approach it? Are you purposeful? Are you determined? Is the fire to succeed burning in your heart? Is it exuding in your passion? Is it evident enough for others to even notice?

Learn From Failures: Successful leaders learn from their failures. Sixty-four year old Mr. Ranieri came to Leicester last July with 30 years of experience as a manager from Chelsea. While at Chelsea he was nicked named “Tinkerman” for tweaking and fiddling too much with his team choices. At Leicester he resisted doing that. The Tinkerman has led Leicester to the top of the league – by doing the OPPOSITE of what earned him his famous nickname. The Foxes are flying high because boss Claudio Ranieri has hardly changed a thing since last season according to winger Marc Albrighton. So Claudio basically wasn’t too proud to learn from his previous mistakes in while at Chelsea.

This trait resonates the philosophy of business gurus like Henry Ford who called blunders necessary for achievement and Bill Gates who said success is a much lousier teacher than failure. Mr Ranieri, by design or good fortune, found the right thing to adjust, you can do the same in your life and business to get the results you so badly desire!

Team Spirit: Leicester is one team you have a dressing room without too many egos and a coach who is a fantastic man manager. And that is the right recipe for a great teamwork! Their focus, their determination, their spirit has made their victory possible. “I’ve never known a spirit like the one between these boys, we’re like brothers” says one of the player. And their coach once remarked… “The players have been fantastic. Every game they fight for each other and I love to see this in my players.” For any business to succeed there must be a synergy between the workers and management as seen here otherwise too much time will be spent on housekeeping issues rather than on competition as clearly exemplified by the defending champions of this same competition…reasons why they aren’t the current champions!

New Competition Are Threats: The story of Leicester reiterates one sure fact that Business owners conveniently choose to disregard… new competition is a greater business threat than ever before! It is a reminder that smaller outfits can prosper by emulating what bigger ones already do well. Market analysis, economic forecast and expert predictions can fail miserably and what can or will stand the test of times are your RESULTS as direct fallout of your EFFORTS! This is clearly the story of Leicester City!

The opportunities for smaller fry or underdogs to emulate giants or experts in all spheres of life or business is all so easy now, thanks to technology!

Leicester adopted the approaches of the biggest football clubs using new technology and analyzing lots of data on how players perform. You can do the same! Mirror what your market leaders are doing and design your own competitive edge. This is one sure way of devising your unique selling point!

Money Is Not A Neccesity: Many people would not move a finger to pursue their dreams because like they always say… “No Money”! But look at this… Manchester City spent £158 million last summer. Manchester United spent £285m over the past two years. Chelsea added to a title-winning team by investing a further £70m on new players this season and the best they can boast of all season is struggling at the middle of the table. Even Newcastle, desperately fighting relegation, spent £80m on recruits over the last year.
Ranieri on the other hand, settled on a starting 11 that cost a meager £22m. Perhaps even more remarkably, his outstanding most outstanding players included the cheapest. Mahrez, the newly crowned PFA Player of the Year, came for £450,000. Vardy, who made Premier League history by scoring in 11 consecutive games, was acquired for £1m!!! So was Morgan, another who was named in the team of the season. Albrighton and left-back Christian Fuchs were free transfers. These are the guys who won the premiership title! So sometimes…if not all of the times, it’s not all about money. Don’t wait till you have money. Rather take baby steps everyday…start where you are, use what you have and do what you can do!

Overcome Setbacks: The key to being a winner in life is the ability to overcome set backs because there would always be setbacks in life! Ability to respond to setbacks was something the defending champions failed to do which the current champions Leicester City did so well. Chelsea’s stunning decline into losing nine matches of the 16 that Jose Mourinho presided over before he was sacked in December was the most striking example of a collectively soft underbelly.

Arsenal beat Leicester 2-1 on Valentine’s Day but they gallantly fought back from that Emirates defeat to win seven in their next nine, maintaining the type of results that a title-winner thrives on!
What setbacks has life thrown at you? Are you still stuck in there? Remember, it’s not falling that keeping you down… it is refusing to get up! Just like falling inside water doesn’t drown you but staying in it! So push back your setbacks and reach for greater heights!

Don’t Believe The Naysayers: All odds were against Leicester City to come top four. No consideration to even winning…that was just unattainable. Analyst said the chances of Leicester City winning were 5,000-1 at the start of the season. That means if the Premier League continued every year from now until 7016, by the bookmakers’ estimation, Leicester would win it, once. Equally, had the Premier League started in 2984 BC, or around the time Stonehenge was built and been played every year since; the bookmakers believe Leicester would win it, once. What an underestimation of one’s value! But this didn’t stop them. They came out to prove them all wrong. If Paul Octopus even had a say here, I’m pretty sure he would have been put to shame too!

“Nobody believed we could do it, but here we are — Premier League champions and deservedly so,” Leicester captain Wes Morgan said.
What do you want to do that people have told you it can’t be done? Has their negative conclusion stopped you? Well, I am pretty sure no negative forecast on your life or business can be worse than this one on Leicester city. So please ignore the nay says and go right ahead and pursue your dreams. The fact that they can’t do it does not mean it can’t be done. Never allow people who can’t get things done stop you from getting it done!

Focus On A Niche: Leicester City team fared badly in Cup Competitions but that on the other hand created the opportunity for them to concentrate on winning league games. There lies a vital lesson that not succeeding in one area can be helpful—if AND ONLY IF you can then focus on doing better elsewhere…. Find a niche and focus on it! When MAGGI decided to dabble in the production of Noodles and grab a part of INDOMIE’s market share…they soon realized it wasn’t their area of core competence when the product flopped in the market. They quietly went back to their seasoning cubes and faced it squarely! Avoiding distractions and focusing on your area of core competence is germane for business success.

You Can Smash Records: Yes, YOU! You can come from behind or nowhere at all and create an upset if you are determined to do so! All it takes is your will power…if you want it bad enough it will happen for you because success is no one’s birth right. It is available to all who strive for it! Leicester finished 14th last season. No team has come from such a lowly position to win the league. It has been 21 years since any team other than Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City or Manchester United won the top-flight title. Only six have even finished in the top four in the last decade. And in an era of ever-increasing television revenue, where the latest deal is worth £5.136bn, it was considered unthinkable that any team could smash these formidable records and break the dominance of the traditional elite clubs. Yet Leicester have defied financial logic and won the league. You too can win in life or business if you want to. You can be the game changer in your industry if you would just decide that is what you want to do and start today to work at it…giving it your all. If the story of David and Goliath did not convince you…then the one of Leicester City, which is happening in your own lifetime, should…and if it doesn’t, then nothing else would!

Never Give Up: Leicester City has been on this journey to win a trophy for 132 WHOLE YEARS! They didn’t give up. The club was not scrapped and they didn’t shut down. From generations to generations, they kept the dream alive and today that dream has become reality for them! Also, Claudio Ranieri the coach seemed to personify the theory that nice guys don’t finish first. He was the tagged the “nearly man”, because he had been a runner-up in three countries, in 16 previous jobs dating back almost 30 years and had never actually won a league title. Nearing retirement age, he was doomed to be a manager in decline. He generated uncomplimentary comparisons with Jose Mourinho and was on the receiving end of the all kinds flattering remarks and nicknames. He was ridiculed to say the least! But today he has come from Zero to Hero! What if he gave up in those thirty years of seeming failures? He would never have tasted the savory pudding of victory today!

What dreams or goals are you pursuing? Have you been at it for half of 132 years? That Business or career that is frustrating you to the point of wanting to throw in the towel, have you been at it for 30years? Think about this before you give up! If the story of Thomas Edison came across as an ancient mythology, how about that of Leicester City? It is as real as it can get! Never give up on your dream…if you keep at it, one day it will come true!

Congrats to Leicester City! Despite these wonderful lessons from you…I still would not be your fan, I’m sorry. I remain an unapologetic Arsenal Fan…peace!

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