By the time you read this (and of course depending on your allegiances), football will – or won’t – have ‘come home’. But whatever the outcome of this year’s World Cup tournament in Russia, there is one thing that we believe is a clear winner: calm leadership.

This has been particularly personified in England’s manager, Gareth Southgate, but it’s clear that his attitude, and this leadership style, has had a profound effect throughout his entire team. Of course, we’re not all interested in football, but at Holborn Assets we think that there are some interesting lessons that can be learned from the success of this type of leadership approach. Here are our thoughts.

1/ It proves the power of the story

The idea of a narrative – usually in the form of a ‘journey’ – is a powerful one in sport and in popular culture (think of TV phenomenon the X Factor). Southgate has always spoken about the need for his teams to ‘write their own story’, and we think that this has real applications for our own business teams. It’s a great approach, because it puts individuals in charge of their own destiny. It suggests that, no matter what has happened in the past (a lost penalty shootout, a missed KPI, a failed strategy rollout), every time we work together we have a new opportunity to write our own story, with ourselves as the hero.

2/ It’s about the process, not the outcome

We’ve heard England players talk about ‘owning the process’. It’s an approach that encourages us to forget about the past, to stop worrying about the future, and to just calmly focus on doing what we’re doing now, as well as we can. For the team, it’s the process itself (rather than the outcome) that is important. The thinking is that we can all have complete control over our preparation, mindset, communication and collaboration. But we can’t completely control the outcome. This is as true in business as it is in sport – and the more that we calmly focus on what we can control, and resist the pressure of what we can’t – the better.

3/ The importance of calmness

Listen to some of the players after high pressure games and it is incredible how calm they seem. They are celebrating their successes, of course, but they are also very clearly focused on their goals and what they are trying to achieve together. This attitude has come directly from the leaders in their team – from the manager downwards.

By balancing calm confidence and composure with toughness and ruthlessness when required (he’s been quite prepared to drop poor performers), Southgate has created a team in his own image. And as business leaders, there are lessons there for all of us in terms of the influence we can each have on shaping our own team’s behaviours. But also on the potential power of a calm, guiding force at the helm.

Why does it work? Well, one of the most crucial qualities, we believe, that needs to go with calmness is clarity: being very clear about your strategy, and to communicate to everyone in your team exactly what it is that they’ll need to do to achieve the team’s goals, is crucial.

Creating this kind of engagement, by being calm and being clear, can ultimately be a winning formula.