If you follow the football, you must have spoken with friends and fellow fans about Leicester City’s amazing rise in the Premier League. Let’s face it, since the early 1990s, the same five teams – Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, and Liverpool, have dominated the English Premier League. It’s been over 20 years since a team other than one of these top five took home the trophy. But if you look at the table now and you’ll see Leicester City—who weren’t even in the Premier League two seasons ago—riding high at the top of the table.

So what IS the secret to Leicester’s success? Claudio Ranieri has revealed the secrets behind Leicester City’s remarkable season, insisting the Premier League’s surprise story “gives hope to everybody”. I couldn’t agree more with him! Even if you aren’t a football fan, you have to admit that the teamwork values of this football team are truly inspirational and hugely motivational.

Let’s face it, almost everyone works as part of a team.

But working together in a team doesn’t always come easily to some people. However, when people do truly work together as one team rather than as a group of individuals, the results are so much better.

This being the case, here are our 5 things that team leaders can do to build a better team, inspired by Leicester City:-

1. Value Diversity

Encourage a variety of experience and background in your team.

Allow people to challenge you – be open to hearing different perspectives.

This will lead to diversity of viewpoints, which in turn will lead to better decision-making, problem solving and innovation.

All great teams are built upon a diversity of strengths and similarity of spirit.

2. Build Trust

Successful teams are made of people who trust and believe in each other.

To gain trust from your team members, you must first give it.

The only way you can make a person trustworthy is to trust them, and the surest way to make them untrustworthy is to distrust them.

Assuming that your people will do as you ask is far more effective than expecting the worst and micromanaging them.

3. Manage Conflict

Conflict will occur in ANY team!

Some conflict can be positive – if it leads to problems being avoided or better ways of doing things being found.

However, some conflict adds no value.

Dealing with it quickly, openly and transparently and not allowing grudges to build up and destroy team morale, is very important.

4. Manage Performance

Give your people something special to aim for – give them encouragement, the resources they need, the right motivation – demand and expect the best from them.

Successful teams are given regular and specific feedback.

Everyone should know exactly how they’re performing, and what they need to do if it’s not good enough.

Don’t shy away from having the tough conversations, any more than you should shy away from giving credit where it’s due.

5. Build a Positive Atmosphere

Create an overall team culture that’s open, transparent, positive, future-focused and able to deliver success.

A team’s culture is found in the hearts and in the soul of its people.

Of course this doesn’t magically happen overnight! It requires you as team leader to consistently recognise reinforce and reward the actions that lead to team success.

Aim for a ‘no blame’ culture. Take a forward-looking view on problems, rather than trying to point the finger of blame. This goes a long way to encouraging openness.

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