Building a Winning Team Culture – Lessons from the Business of Sport


Lincoln International Business School recently hosted its fourth LIBS Connect event which focused on how businesses can develop an engaging and supportive culture using lessons from the sporting world.

To explore this topic, LIBS Connect headed to Lincoln City Football Stadium (LCFC) and hosted the event in LCFC’s new Legends Lounge. Businesses from a wide range of industries including Ruddocks, Lincolnshire Co-operative, YMCA Lincolnshire, Selenity and Wilkin Chapman all came to listen to three speakers, Guy Richardson, Founder Of Eiger Consulting, former manager of Scottish Rugby and Director of Operations for The British and Irish Lions Rugby, Liam Scully, CEO, Lincoln City FC and  Dr. Hanya Pielichaty, Principal Lecturer at University of Lincoln. Here are the key messages:

Guy Richarson

Guy Richardson and Impactful Leadership

After many years working in the army and sport management, Guy Richardson has learned a great deal about how to lead a team effectively. Guy walked us through many of his own experiences and discussed the insights businesses could take from them.

  • Impactful leadership characteristics: Empathy, leading by example, knowledge, accountability, and going the extra mile.
  • Lead through empowerment: Allow the team to be a part of the decision making process and feel they have a voice.
  • Leadership styles. Establish your own leadership style (democratic, laissez-faire, transformational, transactional, and autocratic) but use different styles for your own in-work scenarios.
  • Align the values of all groups in your organisation: remove the boundaries that exist between staff groupings. E.g. the players, the coaches and the support staff. Who are the players in your organisation – the technical experts, the lawyers, the accountants, the engineers – do they have the same values as everyone else.
Liam Scully

Liam Scully: Success On and Off the Pitch

As any yellowbelly will know, Lincoln City Football Club have been through an immense transformation in recent years as a team on the pitch but also as business moving from a state of survival to rapid growth. Liam Scully’s presentation took us through that transformational journey, focusing on the leadership skills that guided it. His key messages were:

  • Capture a moment in time – retention, resilience and growth: To ride a wave of recent success, you need to retain your existing support networks, be prepared for competition and plan for growth.
  • “This will do” – should be a swear word. Don’t get complacent.
  • You change your people or you change your people –get people on board with change or change your people.
  • Strategy: When aiming for success, don’t try to do everything at once
  • Lincoln is like a Peloton. LCFC being the main rider and local businesses helping Lincoln to success by way of reducing drag, slip streaming etc.
Hanya Pielichaty

Dr. Hanya Pielichaty: Same Sport Different Game: Culture, Values and Being ‘Other’

Hanya is a former PhD student, turned lecturer at University of Lincoln and her presentation discussed the findings from her study into Women’s Football and how these findings translate into the word of business, particularly, how to combat the creation of “the other” in the workplace and ensure diversity is fully embraced.

Hanya focused on five key points:

  • Authenticity – If a newcomer or new leader is coming from a marginalised position it can cause a team to focus on authenticity. If a leader doesn’t look/do things the way a team is used to, they can see it as unauthentic and think the newcomer needs to prove themselves. Discounting the fact they have been appointed to this position because of their experience/skill.
  • Cultural Change – Sometimes changes in culture can prevent reservations and assumptions of “the other” appearing in the first place.
  • Self and Identity – How do you manage employees with salient (someone who lives and breathes their work, their job role is the first word they use to describe themselves) and contingent (someone who comes in, does their work but doesn’t take their work home)? It’s important for leaders to recognise that a person’s job can be a huge part of their identity and may take tough times in the business harder than others.
  • Importance of support – Work mentoring, supporting failing and successful teams, reward, recognise and motivate.
  • Defiance – Leading by example, making change in a field of tradition – so what if it hasn’t been done before?!
Dr. Craig Marsh

Pro-Vice Chancellor, Dr. Craig Marsh’s Key Takeaways

Dr. Craig Marsh, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Lincoln International Business School wrapped up the presentations with his key insights from the day:

  • Understand the context, Real talent of a manager is to understand how learnings apply to your own situation.
  • To achieve operational excellence, leaders need to master the basics and not attempt to do everything at once.
  • A good leader is a good listener, especially when listening to criticism.
  • An authoritarian leadership style is becoming outdated.

Time for prizes

At the start of the event we invited guests to put their name forward in a LIBS Connect raffle. There were a mixture of prizes, some donated by LCFC, including a stay at Branston Hall and a signed LCFC shirt alongside prizes from University of Lincoln, which included spaces on some of our Executive Development programmes. (Developing a Managerial Mindset and our soon to be launched leadership masterclasses.)

Feedback and responses

We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the event and would like to thank everyone who made it happen and everyone who attended.

 About LIBS Connect

For those new to our network, LIBS (Lincoln International Business School) Connect is our premium networking event through which our business community can engage with our team and their peers. LIBS Connect aims to provide themed events throughout the year focusing on topics that are most relevant to our audience as recommended from you.

Upcoming events

We welcome new faces from all businesses and backgrounds, so if you’d like to get involved please get in touch or join us at our next event.

Contact Details:

T: +44 (0)1522 83556