In Episode 11, Mark Pease, Pastor of Hope Church in Bradford, England, and lifelong supporter of Leeds United, talks with Phil about the leadership lessons that we can all learn from Marco Bielsa, Leeds United’s Manager, as he leads a team, shapes...
In Episode 11, Mark Pease, Pastor of Hope Church in Bradford, England, and lifelong supporter of Leeds United, talks with Phil about the leadership lessons that we can all learn from Marco Bielsa, Leeds United’s Manager, as he leads a team, shapes the culture of a club, and impacts an entire city. Specifically, Mark discusses:
Resources and Links from this Episode
[00:00:00]Phil: [00:00:00] Welcome to How Soccer Explains Leadership. Once again, and we have a guest that I have no doubt that you're going to enjoy. I've had some good conversations with him and every time I talk with this guest that you're going to meet in a minute, I just learn something, which is what I love doing.
And so I hope that, since you have downloaded this. This episode, that that is something that you love to do as well. It's Mark Pease. He is a pastor of Hope Church over in Bradford, England. He has been a lifelong supporter of Leeds United, which if you haven't heard of Leeds United, you've been basically living under a rock over the last several decades.
And especially the last couple of years with the story that they have written over the last few years, Marco Bielsa is their manager, and we're going to be talking a lot about him today. So, you know, stay tuned for that, but before we get there I just want to remind you if you haven't done so already go ahead and subscribe to the show.
That's something that if you love what you're hearing, you can subscribe, you won't miss an episode. And that's something that I, I invite you to [00:01:00] do. I also invite you to join the Facebook group if you want to take this conversation to another level. I'm really starting to ask some questions of, of the people in that group and, and just really hopefully have a deeper conversation with all of you.
If you have a question for me, or if you have a guest that you would love to have on the show, I'd love to have you give me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. So without any more from me well, there will be more for me later, but without any more from just me. Why don't we go ahead right now and introduce you to my friend, Mark Peace. Mark, how are you doing today?
Mark: [00:01:33] Hey, Phil, how you doing greetings from the home of football?
Phil: [00:01:38] It is so great to have you on I'm. I'm very I say this almost every show because it's true. I'm very excited to have you on here today. I think, you know, as we talked about some of the things you might be able to talk about with us I just, I love what we landed on.
So. Before we get into that though. I just want you to briefly share your story. You are a pastor. I [00:02:00] just love to hear your pastoral vocational journey. 'Cause you haven't just been a pastor over the years. Your leadership experience, your family really, and how you developed your love for Leeds United.
Mark: [00:02:10] Right. Well, let me answer that last question first. how I developed my love for Leeds United really lay squarely at the feet of my father. So whether it was by choice or force, I got there one way or the other, but anyway, my name is Mark. Married to a wonderful lady called Hannah. We have three wonderful children kind of either in, or just about to embark upon the teenage years . Read into that what you will . But love them with all my heart and yet for the past 20 plus years I've been pastoring and I'll just pause for a second, Phil, for you to come in and say, you don't look old enough.
Phil: [00:02:44] Yeah, well, that, that is absolutely true, but most people aren't on video. So most people are listening to this. So they'll just hear your voice and the wisdom exuding out of your voice is something that they will have no doubt that you are old enough to do all that.
So, yeah. So on [00:03:00] voice we have no doubt looks absolutely go check out the video. You will 100% agree with
Mark: [00:03:04] that.
I've got a face for podcasting. It's been said many times, but yeah, for 'em. For 20 plus years been in ministry . Brought up in a Christian home which I'm grateful for actually got saved at a Billy Graham convention way back in the day when he used to do these football ground crusades.
Remember it was 1984. and really since that time my faith was real to me. It just really was. And so to cut a very long story short went through school, college, went to university enjoyed it wasn't entirely fulfilled. And I just felt that there was that core that vocation and got into ministry really just through serving in a local church.
And over those 20 years, I've really had the privilege to lead different churches in different cities around the UK. But also as well, maybe for some of your listeners, I got to spend three wonderful years in in the U S and I'm part of the pastoral team in Houston. So between 2015 and [00:04:00] 2018, we were there in the lone star state.
And and after that, we came back to the UK and we started to pass through a smaller church in, in the North of England. So we've kind of. Got experience of leading big churches, small churches in between churches and and really the leadership principles that we've, I'd say learn, but really in all honesty are still learning.
Cause I think we always are always still learning have been many and varied and yeah, that's kind of a little bit about us.
Phil: [00:04:28] Yeah, I love it. And you glossed over really your love for Leeds, which, I think that,
Mark: [00:04:32] I think, I think, I think that may come through that may come through as we talk, Phil.
Phil: [00:04:36] Yeah, I think so. You know, it started maybe with your dad who is also a good friend of mine, but I think it probably has grown away from just being something that your dad loves over the years, but with that. Today as I alluded to earlier, where we are going to talk about the past few years in Leeds, which has been, nothing short of, really amazing, which is why Amazon Prime has made a [00:05:00] mini series or two mini series, two seasons of it tale called Take Us Home: Leeds United.
If you have not watched that, I strongly recommend it. I've just finished the second time through. And it's. It's fantastic theater, really which it has been. especially because it is a true story that has ended with their promotion to the Premier League this year. but before that though, it's been quite a journey.
Of not Premier League after being one of the most storied clubs in all of Europe, really in, in England, especially can you just set the stage for our audience? So I'm sure a lot of people listening really don't know the history of Leeds and, and I want you to talk about that history.
Also what it's been like to be a supporter of Leeds over those years, I look at the last few years being a Manchester United supporter and my kids who are probably I'm hoping it's not as long of a layoff, so to speak that you had, but my younger kids are saying was Manchester United ever good.
which makes her laugh since they did [00:06:00] make the Champions League, even though they just bowed out. But we're not going to talk about that today, but I do want to talk about that, just really that story over the last 40 years or so that you've been a Leeds supporter when that's been like, and really contrast that with what you've witnessed over the past few years under Bielsa.
Mark: [00:06:18] Absolutely. Yeah. I suppose a little context is, is good. Isn't it? 'Cause it, it just gives everything, its proper meaning where we are for those who, who may be don't know. We are probably one of not the eldest, but probably one of the most traditional, oldest clubs in the United Kingdom, we just we're celebrating our hundredth year.
Centennial year as a club, as a, as a football club. And throughout all that time, we have never been. The most fashionable club, we'd never been the we are quite a traditional blue collar city Leeds really. I suppose if on a draw some kind of parallel, and I could be wrong here, but to take American football as an example we were kind of like the Green Bay Packers.
We're certainly not the Dallas Cowboys. [00:07:00] And we've never had the resources that other teams have had. We've never really had the opportunity. We've always, really felt like we're on the outside looking in and football fans being football fans. We delighted a little bit in that being a little bit different.
And and really our history is one long out that hundred years, probably other than a 10 to 12, 15 year period in the sixties and seventies for any soccer historians out there, you know, we were kind of like the top of the tree. And then probably another. Three to four years in the nineties pushing into the early two thousands where we were in the premier league, we made the champions league semifinal.
Apart from that time, really, we have been the definition. If you can Wikipedia and Google this, if you like, we've been the definition of average. And and that that's been tough. Particularly when, you know, and this has been part of the problem for our club is that by the way, today, we're kind of looking at this like a case study, if that's all right.
So to kind of put some of [00:08:00] these principles on, but When you're a club that has had some success, you always feel like, when's it the next when's the next time? I suppose some, fans have a sense of entitlement feel that we should win everything. That every competition we ever enter and.
Probably for about the past 16 to 20 years before we got promoted this, this past summer we have been languishing in the nether regions of the footballing wilderness, not just in the division below the premier league. We spent a good three, four years, I believe in the division below that I've got no idea what the, the U S equivalent of that is, but we were so far away from the promised land.
But it wasn't funny. And the amount of cultures we'd had, the amount of owners that we'd have. They'd come, they'd go. We'd, we'd have three cultures in a year in one season. I mean, how on earth? You can try and build something to last or get some kind of stability. It just was not there. And then suddenly we [00:09:00] get taken over by this guy, Andrea Radrizzani, Italian businessman with a bit of a sports media background. He takes over.
But suddenly we, we make this appointment a man by the name of Marcelo Bielsa, very well-known man in the world of coaching. And he became a manager two and a half to three years ago. In all honesty, most regular fans didn't know much about him. They'd heard of him, but really didn't know much about him, but suddenly we started hearing all these pundits and all these other cultures start to talk about this man that we didn't really know who he was, in glowing terms.
And the more we looked into him, the more we thought. How on earth is a club like us in our particular position, how on earth have we landed a guy like this? But land him, we did. And he came and, and the journey started and, and the rest is history. And I'm sure some of that we're going to talk about, but yeah, the, the context and the history, it has been challenging.
It has been [00:10:00] barren. there has not been an open checkbook. We have not had the means, still don't have the means to go and buy the kind of players that we feel that we would like. And yet, despite all of that through really the talent of an incredible leader, I've got to say watching this man over the last two and a half years, I've taught leadership for years and I've attended so many leadership seminars.
What I've witnessed Is better than anything I've ever taught in anything I've ever heard in terms of tangible leadership principles being outworked and results being seen. It really has.
Phil: [00:10:35] And we are going to get into that, which I'm excited to do. One of the things though I did see on that Take Us Home documentary was Bielsa's his wife talking about him.
and, you hear things and you watch things and you see the leadership in the movie, in the show on the, whatever on the field even. But one of the things she said is he studied everything about Leeds as a city. Where the people like to go, what they read, how people move through the [00:11:00] city.
If Bielsa doesn't fall in love with the city, he will not go. He won't go Bielsa didn't go to leads for just the football club. Bielsa went to manage Leeds for the city as a whole. And then I also watched and seeing like, That people saw him walking through the city and he was approachable. And is that something that, being there, is that something that you have seen and felt as far as that he has made it?
And the other thing that they talked about is he makes it. Everyone involved from top to bottom of the club, fan supporters, kit man, administration, he makes sure that he's going around and meeting everybody and making everyone feel like they are part of the club, which he truly believes they are.
Is that what you've felt as a supporter of the club in the seats as much as anybody else?
Mark: [00:11:45] Absolutely. I think he exudes humility. it's a bit of a, there's a tension really on the one hand, he's all of those things. But on the other hand, he's a very private person.
And so what he is, what I suppose [00:12:00] is an introvert, really, if I was from the outside looking in, but somehow what he's done, he has portrayed himself in a way that people are bought into him. They love the way that he carries himself. He certainly doesn't call himself the special one.
Other, although a lot of what he does is very, very special. You listening to you listen to him being interviewed. It's always about the players. It's always about the club. In fact, One of the things, the first things he did, and I think this won the hearts and minds of the people, cause it was different.
with our squad. One of the first days of training, they're all expecting to kick a ball around and try and impress the coach. He put all the footballs away and he got them walking, not just around the training ground, but around the small town where the training ground has got on walking around for four hours.
Picking up litter picking up trash. Wow. And and at the end, the end, the players were all thinking, these are highly paid, superstar want to be players. And at the end of it, he said, I just wanted you to remember what it's like to be somebody out there while [00:13:00] you're living their dream, who go to work for 40, 50 hours a week and spends maybe the little money that they have, their hard earned resources on paying to come and watch you perform and things like that suddenly just endeared him to the to the public endeared him to the players because I think it took a lot of them by surprise, but they respected what he did. And I don't know of any other culture. I've certainly not heard or read about one.
Who's done something like that. Because the sadly, particularly in, when it comes to superstardom and that the tendency is to particularly in a world of player power is to ponder to the, every whim, every request of the superstar. And yet this was different. I think from that moment that started to forge something unique in the team, in the organization, something different that we'd never seen before.
And it's funny how you can always kind of trace things back. To a starting point. And as a result of that I think because of those things, he really has endeared himself. He, like you say, [00:14:00] you see him walking around the city, you'll often see him riding a public bus. a man who is very well recompensed, but gets public bus.
No, it lives in a tiny little apartment above a little little shop. No airs, no graces. And I think certainly for Leeds as a city, I think he saw something in us that reflected some of the things that he stands for. And I also think as well, but you look at his managerial history, his coaching history, his culture at some big clubs, but he's never really coached at the, he's never going to be a Real Madrid manager.
Right, right. Because there's something about that that doesn't fit with. I think he knows his lane. I think he knows. What he wants to build and where we can and where he can't build that. and again, I suppose that's a very important lesson, isn't it about? We can't be all things to all men, as much as we'd like to, there are lanes for us all, and I think he's very good at picking his,
Phil: [00:14:54] I agree with that. All of that. And before we get into the specifics of that though, which we will, we will dig into that. I [00:15:00] want to mind into that a bit more, but I do want to draw back out a little bit more. I love taking the, kind of seeing the forest first.
Right. So really talk about, I do want to talk about the trees and some of the specific leadership principles, but now I want to start at kind of that 30,000 foot view. A lot of people talk about the importance of a leader, but how has Bielsa shown that a leader can actually be the difference?
In a squad and in a team and in a club and quite frankly, in a city here as you said, he has been a leader in the city, well, beyond the club. And I think part of that comes from the fact that leads is what the fourth largest city in England. And it's the only major city to have only one club. So I think part of it comes from that, but can you just talk to that, speak to that from not just from football, but from
just life and organizations. Can a leader. And how does a leader, we don't necessarily get into specifics of how does a leader do it, but with Leeds and with Bielsa. And has that, have you ever seen that in any other organizations that you've led where the leader makes all the [00:16:00] difference in the
Mark: [00:16:00] world?
Yeah, I mean, I mean, like I said, well, we'll get into the specifics, but if I was to bring it back to the lowest common denominator It will be simply this. The reason why I can tell he has made all the difference is, is simply this: results. I've sat through so many leadership seminars and, and programs and seven ways to build a business and five ways to, to build a thriving church.
and at the end of the day, if we're all being honest, if you look at the results. You, you may have enjoyed the program. You may have enjoyed the seminar. you may have had a great time. You made buy all the merchandise at the end of the day, success is results driven. Now that can sound a little bit harsh.
So, let me quantify that by, by results are not just talking about, are we winning competition . BY results, I'm talking about how are we doing as a club? How are we doing as an organization? Are we, are we becoming, are we [00:17:00] upgrading our skill sets? Are we, are we becoming more compassionate? Are we, are we, it's not just about, are we the biggest 'cause that's the, I think you can be the biggest and you can mus and you can just look at soccer for some great examples of that. And so they just embark upon the managerial merry-go-round and buying success, or attempting to buy success. I look at what he's done, what he's built or what he's building, because he's really, he's only been here a couple of years and it must be working because for 20 years prior to that, nobody's come close.
Which then begs me. Okay. What, what is it that you're doing different? It's not that he suddenly come in and just bought a whole new roster of players far from it. He's pretty much working with the resources that every other coach has had for the past 20 years. And every manager has had for the past three or four or five years.
And I look at him and I just think there must be something about what you're doing that demands my respect and demands my attention because you are producing something on different levels [00:18:00] that I've not seen anybody come close to. Yeah,
Phil: [00:18:03] you kind of alluded to some of that that I want to dig a little deeper into right now, which is that, he came in and just really changed the same players that were playing, and quite frankly, he picked you, you say he picked up a couple of players.
It's not like he came in and brought in the major strikers. He brought in a striker from Middlesborough for crying out loud. a guy who. No one had heard of before,
Mark: [00:18:26] who, who was reject rejected really by Chelsea, they didn't want him kept farming them out on loan to different clubs, probably had about seven or eight loan clubs came to us for the first year and we were thinking like, everybody else, he's not good enough.
But like you say, suddenly. Things start to happen. So how is that? How can that be?
Phil: [00:18:45] Yeah. And you know, we're talking about Bamford Patrick Bamford, by the way, if you didn't know, but and he was hurt for a good chunk of that first season. Right. but these other players are all of a sudden coming out and the same players, he's making it to starters.
And I remember hearing it on [00:19:00] that documentary where he's like Calvin Phillips, he's going to be one of the best in the league. You know, these other guys, he's going to be one of the best in the league. And that's, it's just, you know, it, you hear about that. And you go, okay, whatever, but then it happens and you go, wow.
Okay. Like there's something going on here that's different. So with that know and, and the other thing that you see as you just listen to how his former players talk about him, listen to how his people, he works with, talk about them, listen to how the administration talks about him. he's been explained, described really as that teacher, he only takes on big challenges.
There's this admiration. I remember hearing Ander Herrera in that, I liked him a lot more when he was on, on Manchester United, but he's a phenomenal player
Mark: [00:19:40] because I like him a lot more. Now
Phil: [00:19:42] I know you do. I know you do. It's amazing how that works, but but he's talking about just him, like really like, Almost on a pedestal. Yeah. That, and it was his former coach. So with that, it really goes to culture.
Mark: [00:19:54] Hmm,
Phil: [00:19:55] It really goes to this idea of the leaders, philosophy style, identity [00:20:00] culture and we've had a lot of other coaches on this show. And they've talked about that where the team really will take on the identity of the manager and coach, if they're doing it well So better be healthy.
Right? So what is that, that, that Bielsa has brought to this squad that is that identity, that philosophy that he brings, that you believe from your vantage point has really, made the difference.
Mark: [00:20:27] I think he's got them to believe. Let me put, going back to what you were saying before. about Patrick Bamford as a, as an example, case in point and how a coach can get something out of a player out of a resource that maybe others haven't been able to, even though many have tried, I think there's a difference between.
And I, I saw this a lot in American sports actually, when we were out there in Houston for three years, fell in love with American sports, particularly baseball and American football. and you could see the difference and it's the same here in the UK, between good effective cultures and [00:21:00] cultures really leaders that I, I can describe them no other way than this, trying to surf the wave. Whether it's the wave of resources, whether it's the wave of just, the stars in quotes aligning, or, or ride the wave of an easy draw or, or whatever. There's a difference between a coach who can pump up and motivate a player.
As opposed to one who can actually make a player to start believe in themselves. They're two completely different things. And I, I look, I look across our squad of players, who to all intents and purposes bar one, two, three players that we recruited over the summer who aren't household names, but you know, did cost a little bit of money.
The squad that he's working with is a championship level squad that division under the premiership. He's working with players who for years performed at best mid table year in, year out. And he's come in and somehow he's got them to buy into that identity. and I think this is a key as well. He's, he's [00:22:00] got them to own it, so they're not only buying into it.
They own it, and they can carry it out when they're on the field of play. For anybody who's kind of been following the premiership season, this year, here's a great case in point of that in action. We played Manchester City. In one of our early games, we had quite a tough start.
And we had the first you've all seen games like this. The first 20 minutes are our games where we hardly touch the ball, everything we do well, we couldn't do well. And we just couldn't bypass their press and. Our Playmaker, really Calvin Phillips, who everything goes through. He's our quarterback.
If you like they were just shutting him down. We couldn't get any passes away. We were hemmed in they got a goal, looked like we were going to ship four or five. And then suddenly you could see on the field of play that the players themselves, starting to think this isn't working. How am I, how am I going to, where can I position myself on the field?
So I can get into a place where I'm effective. Yeah. A coach can shout from the sideline, but when [00:23:00] they're doing that and plays in real time you can shout as much as you like. Really. A lot of it goes in one ear and goes out the other ear because you've got to be able to think process and adapt in real time.
And this is, this is one of the things really that I I'd contrast with American football in soccer. We don't have the luxury. Of a timeout in soccer, we don't have a luxury of, okay, we're going to exercise this play or that didn't work. Let's huddle together. Let's try this play. And it's kind of very piecemeal in, in soccer it's fluid.
And so you've got to make sure that your team, that you are leading, not only just nod their heads and say yes, coach, but. Suddenly buy into and own what you're teaching them so that when the going gets tough out there, they can start to remedy and action solutions and be proactive because what the coach thinks they now think, and it becomes that quick flow of thoughts and adaptation and that's [00:24:00] been one of the key differences, somehow he, and obviously I'm not a party to the training field. I don't know how he does it in, in that sense of it, but to see how he has done that and to see it out, played on the field of play.
It's just an incredible thing. It really is. Yeah.
Phil: [00:24:17] with that, with, with your leadership, I mean, how have you done that with your organizations? How have you done that with your staff? I mean, as you talked about, you have this idea that, and we'll get, I want to get back to that, just the actual culture that he has brought in and really that style of play and how he's gotten, different people to, as you said, you're not sure how he has gotten to buy-in, but I think there is something that is different than how most teams play. And I think that's important to talk about a little bit more, but I want to stick on this, flexibility and adaptability side of things. with a leader, a leader can be one of two things. Well, not one of two, that can be a lot of different things, but in this, in this instance, it can be somebody who
is, like you said, every, and I've, I've watched soccer games where the coach is [00:25:00] literally on the sideline telling each player where to pass. And it is like robotic and, and from these girls were 12, 13, 14 up to 16, 17, and it was not fluid. It was just, and they were fearing that they were going to be making mistakes.
Mark: [00:25:15] They can't think for themselves.
Phil: [00:25:16] Yeah. It leads really to a toxic environment versus the, like you said, where you instill in them, what you want them to know, who you want them to be, what your culture is, who you are as an organization, who you are as a team, your style, and you say, go. Yeah. And then they have freedom within those parameters.
They have freedom within that structure, which usually leads to the, to the best. But how have you been able to do that outside the pitch? when you're in these different organizations or how have you seen other leaders do that?
Mark: [00:25:45] Yeah, what that has taught me, and this is quite a humbling lesson Because human beings where we count, if we don't renew our minds, we can be the Kings of deflection or if only or if I have this and what seeing [00:26:00] what has happened in my club over the past couple of years has taught me, is this as a leader, most of the time, everything you need for the next step you already have.
It's under your nose. The problem is that a lot of the time we don't see it. So I think you've raised it already Phil that you alluded to it in the video that you saw there. Take Me Home here comes Marcelo Bielsa and he's saying about Calvin Phillips and that was actually at his job interview when the directors of the club flew out to Argentina to talk about his appointment.
And and when they sat around a table, it turns out that he'd watched every game from the past three seasons. Every minute of every game in the space of a week and analyzed all the players didn't even know the players by name, but knew them by number. And he could, and these were players that most of us as fans, we wanted them out.
They weren't good enough. They're not going to make the grade. And it was at that moment that he was saying, I'm going to make Calvin Phillips the best central defensive midfielder. He wasn't even a central defensive [00:27:00] midfielder. When he said that he was a box to box you know, an eight or, or pushing a 10 he said, I'm going to make him, I call him a four, but a defensive midfielder.
And he had a unique ability. To see the potential in what was already there. What everybody else was saying was not good enough would not work. And it's so therefore it's taught me this. I might not have everything that I need in whatever I'm building, whatever I'm working on, whatever team I'm trying to put out on the field.
But a lot of what I do need, or that will help me to get there. I already have, which then forces me to, to think and to concede well, if there's no one there to help me. In the right sense. I don't need that help. Sure. There's a time when we all need that help and we all need that investment and we all need that opportunity.
And for, for that door to open, but for me to make the next step, what can I work with? Who can I develop? Who can I can I make believe in themselves and, and I've seen it in, I've seen it in church life. I've seen it in education cause I'm an [00:28:00] educator as well by profession. When you do that and when the light switches on, in that person, whether it be a player, whether it be a student, whether it be someone in your church, family, when the light goes on and they realize that they can perform or achieve or do something that maybe for years they were told, or they were even telling themselves they could never be or never do.
I don't think in life, you can get anything that is as pure or as rewarding as that. And so I really try and utilize that the best, because it's so easy to be cynical to dismiss to think, like I said earlier, if only, you know, if, if only I just had a few more people if only add a few more resources, I could open this, this part to my, at this part, to my business.
And then suddenly we'd breakthrough in that area. If only you cannot live, like you cannot build in the land of if only. And that's been one of the biggest lessons that I am learning. Like I say, I've, I've heard people talk about it in leadership seminars. But in all honesty, [00:29:00] this is probably one of the few places where I've seen it out worked, and it's a great principle to live by.
Phil: [00:29:06] Yeah, that's interesting. And actually the, the work your, that your dad and I do in international different work, going on all around the world, in the context of orphaned and vulnerable children, you hear that all the time. If only we had more money, if only we had more people, if we had more of this and what you know, your dad and I do a lot of is,
is really just speaking that truth into people that look, you guys have so many strengths here that are so much more valuable than you see, and you know, how can you use those to do this work? That really will likely be much more effective than if you bring people from the outside who don't know your culture and don't know who you are, and don't know the style that you are working in, in your, your.
Community and the relationships and all these other things. So then you see that on the football pitch too. Right? You see that all the time when you bring in this other player and they theoretically are great, but they play for themselves. They don't know the culture, they don't know the [00:30:00] style. Are they.
They're used to playing a different formation and it takes them a while and sometimes they never get it. And sometimes they just don't fit in that culture. And so, that's something that I, that I have absolutely agree on and I have all kinds of memories. We're not going to get into today on that.
But I do want to get back to that DNA of the team, really that culture. And you, you talked about it earlier and you alluded to it with Bielsa where you talked about his humility. Jim Collins talks about that, where you need that level five leader has that humility, but he also has that professional will.
And really, I think that professional will, the humility is, is really that learning posture, what an amazing story. He watched three years of matches to understand this. And he didn't even know he was taking the job
Mark: [00:30:42] yet. Right. And as an a supporters, we could even bring ourselves to what, 17 minutes, let alone 90 minutes of abject garbage. and in all could see the gold and I'm aware that sounds like a cliche, but that is fact that is exactly what happened.
Phil: [00:30:57] Absolutely. and it's, it's true. And [00:31:00] so, as he comes in with that humility, but also he has that professional will, and with that professional will he knows who he is.
And so can you talk about that part that I think the way you talked about it, when we were having a conversation beforehand Preparing for this episode, you talked about it. Like not every business is Apple. Leeds will never be Man United. and those are very neutral comments, Some people would go, Oh, well, why wouldn't you want to shoot? Well, you know what, you're different and that's not only okay. That's what makes this world a very exciting and interesting place. But it's also what makes these different organizations and clubs special. So what is it that Bielsa brings to Leeds United that is different?
And how do you think you said you weren't, you're not on the pitch, but how do you think based on what you've watched in the show, based on what you've seen in the city that he has gotten this team to buy into a very unorthodox approach, especially in today, that's really a, not an unorthodox 30, 40 years ago, but in [00:32:00] today's day and age, it's a very unorthodox approach to the game.
Mark: [00:32:03] that's a very good question. And it's a question which I think is very timely because, due to the wonders of podcasting, you and I can't guarantee when people are going to watch this or listen to it. So if I can just date stamp on time, reference this Leeds as a, as a team at the moment, we've kind of hits a little bit of a sticky patch.
We've had a couple of not great results. The league at the minute is very compact. So our position is, we're two thirds of the way down the table. But it's all compact and a couple of good results. So nobody's panicking, but already amongst some of the fans there's talk about, it's not working.
It's amazing how after 20 years where it definitely did not work. Suddenly we're in a better place than we've ever been because of one man's vision. And people are very quick to throw the baby out with the bath water, or suddenly to question what got you there. And I think a lot of the time it's because people are I put it this way.
The curse of imitation. [00:33:00] Imitation is a dangerous thing and we see it, but I see it in ministry. People want to be like the people that they feel are success. I'll often ask people, what is success to you? And I always get different answers. like we were talking to at the time, not every business is Apple, not every business.
is the big success. not every retail outlet is Target. Just proving there that I know a little bit about America.
Phil: [00:33:24] Yeah. And I got, you're getting, trying to get street cred over here.
Mark: [00:33:28] Not every church is like the church and, and again, for football.
Organizations clubs, not every club can be a Liverpool. Not every, not every team can be a galactical. So. What is it that you bring? What is it that you can be? Because if you try and if you try and be a preacher, like somebody else, you'll never do it. And they'll see through you, if you try and try and be a manager, like somebody else, you may pull it off for one, two, three years, but you'll never last beyond that because suddenly what looked like it was working will start to fall apart because the [00:34:00] foundations aren't there or the character is not there.
And you start falling out with your players or your players fall out with you and, and, and all of that kind of stuff. And I've seen that with our club. We have a very distinct way of playing that. We've talked about that that, that, that the players have bought into. And I think the reason why it is proving to be successful to a degree.
And that the players are buying into it because there's a big price to pay for how we play physically. It's very demanding. The players are also seeing that it is working and every human being loves to be a part of something or feel connected to something. That is working. We see that in church, if there's church scandal, half the congregation will be out through the door, regardless of them investigating the rights and the wrongs and the truth and the whatever.
And because people don't want to be associated with failure. And I look at our club and I look at our players. And the messages that are being communicated to [00:35:00] them imagine this a right back, following the left winger all the way over to the opposite side of the field of play, most coaches will be saying, what are you doing?
Keep your shape. But actually we don't have a shape. We have a kind of a fluid. Moving mega morphing, whatever you want to call it yet. And that's why you're here. Every opponent that we play come after and say, we've never come up against that. It is a different way of playing football and I think the coach has this mentality and I think it's risky, but I think it's also positive.
He feels like the game in his eyes should be played a certain way. So if we're going to play it, we're going to play in a way that reflects us, not just the coach, but also the players that have bought into it. And I look at the EPL history over the past couple of years, particularly the clubs that come up.
Bar the odd exception. Most of them come up dispense with the majority of the players that got them there [00:36:00] and try to find a new way of playing to survive. Spend a heck of a lot of money doing it, and invariably get relegated and then they have the debt to deal with. And then it creates a bit of a vicious cycle.
Whereas I think. Our coach and another Sheffield United as another example from getting promoted last season and had a great first year, they've come up and they've decided, this is what got us here. These are the players that pretty much got us here. So with a little bit of tweaking, we're going to continue the same way.
And if it's not good enough, or if we fail or if we get knocked out, we would rather be carried out on our shield. Than to try and imitate somebody else and be somebody we're not an interestingly enough. I think a lot of the successful cultures understand that you'd hear a Pep Guardiola talk glowingly about Marcelo Bielsa, but he will also honestly say the way he sees football, the way I see football Pochettino as well, the way.
And they would consider themselves disciples. If you like of [00:37:00] Bielsa. But they will say we see the game differently to him. So even when he's coaching or mentoring, he's not molding them to be mini hims. he's giving them what they need to become them. And I think he's doing that with the team.
So we've got a bunch of average players now who realize that they can compete at this level. And suddenly that does something to you that actually. I can be confident in how we view the game. We can be confident of what we stand for as a team. Yes. We may take a couple of Heavy negative results and we have done, but on the flip side, we're gonna win more than we lose to succeed in the Premiership.
You're not going to succeed by drawing a bunch of games and having a tight defense the only way you're going to stay up and succeed in the premiership as a new club is to score goals. Because every team that gets relegated usually gets relegated because they can't score goals. And that's all the way we set up.
The way we play is, is geared to that. If you score a three, we're going to try and score four. Now sometimes as a supporter that terror, I watched the game last night and we were [00:38:00] tearing we're so open. We're so exposed. What w what, what a seven players doing charging into the penalty area? Yep. But that's the way he is.
And. You'll take the negatives because you think actually in the bigger scheme of things, this is what got us there. And I would rather be us and not make it. Then be somebody else and fail be somebody else and just about make it. And actually I think the reality is we will be fine. And yeah, I am aware that I've just rambled for a whole lot of time that I feel like, yeah.
Phil: [00:38:31] Oh, that was good. That's good. tell me if you agree with this. Here's, here's my theory on it. From a leadership perspective, I curious to hear if you, being over there, I'm obviously all the way out here in California. So I may know nothing about it, but, watching what I watch watching the team play well, knowing what I know about leadership I really believe that he came in and I didn't even know that story about walking around the community, but just when he came in, what did he do? He didn't come in and, just say, I know everything [00:39:00] I'm going to do everything. He hired a leadership team around him, or they did as a club as well, but he hired the people that he knew would come in, be stronger, smarter than him to be able to help round out his leadership.
Mark: [00:39:09] Do you want to know? What's interesting about that? Sorry to interject no, go for it. And you don't see this often. He brought with him. The team that he takes with him everywhere, which is another leadership principle really about who you walk life with and who is your close circle? who are your trusted sounding boards?
These guys are guys. Who have been with him pretty much day in, day out through it. So at Marseilles for the, for the five minutes he was at Lazio and then that all didn't work out for promises that were broken and whatnot. In Spain, these, this pretty much this core of people have traveled with him. And there was only one guy in Leeds who we kind of brought into the team.
And, and that's why we didn't bring in a lot of outside voices, but, but absolutely carry on Phil.
Phil: [00:39:54] absolutely. I love it. I love the commentary. This is good. This is good. And then, because I do want you to correct me or help me to [00:40:00] frame it a bit more, but the club itself as well.
So that owner you talked about earlier, he didn't just go. I'm doing it. He brought in those other people from different perspectives to say, as a great leader does, so you see this from top to bottom and the players are watching this unfold. So then he comes in, does these things to build trust?
I mean, that's really what he does when he walks around the community. That's what he does when he has these meetings. That's what he does when he's sharing with them, what they do, but he doesn't just stop there. He goes out and he's on the phone. Field, you watch them out there in the training. He's getting there, he's pushing them to be, to their limits.
He's running the crud out of them, And they say that, if there's one thing he does, they're going to be fit. They're not going to be the ones who are the least fit on that team ever. And if they are, he's going to run them harder that next week. I mean, I loved when it was talking about how with one of the teams he had, he built bungalows there at the training pitches where they would stay overnight.
I mean, that's just crazy talk, right? Where a lot of, yeah, go no way, but
Mark: [00:40:55] Sounds like a cult, right?
Phil: [00:40:57] It sounds crazy.
That's [00:41:00] nuts.
Right? I mean, as, as in most players, especially these, a lot of them, like you said, they're premadonnas, but he brings in these players that he has studied and he says, these are the players that are going to be my players and they're going to get, and I'm going to build trust with them.
and then the other way I build trust is not just on that pitch, but it's when I do these interviews. So then they interview them about when they lost and they, brutal. Playoff loss to Derby County after they're up in the away, there they say no other team has ever not made it after winning the away leg in the championship playoff, and they did.
And what does he do? He comes out and says, it's my fault.
I take responsibility for that, that builds trust, That's that humility. And then they say, okay, whatever you say, I'm going to follow you. And that is what we talk about with leadership is that leadership is influence. It's not.
Title, it's not this, this position that you have, it is that influence And I always have talked about it in the sense of as a true leader, [00:42:00] you help. People want to do the things that you want them to do on their own. When they want to do it. And because they see, and they know not just, Oh, we're going to win, but we're going to be better people.
We're going to be better players. We're going to be a better team. And heck you didn't say this, but they come out in the first match ever, or first match in the premier league after winning promotion and lose four to three against the defending champion. Liverpool who was killing everybody last year and not, not giving up a lot of goals, mind you.
And this was before they had all the injuries to their defense and they put up three on them.
Like that's that says a lot. So
anyway, what do you think of that? That was just kind of a little diatribe there more than I usually interject, but I'm just curious what your thoughts are on that, from a different vantage point and someone who has been right in the thick of it, there.
Mark: [00:42:51] Yeah. I think that whole area of trust that you talk about is key because it's the foundation that allows the [00:43:00] players to perform. For us, if you're in business, in whatever field of work you are calling without the trust of those that you're working with, there is no foundation to build and I've seen that in the club.
And when those around you now start to. Demonstrate trust and take home the characteristics. So I'm not talking about becoming a cult, but you start to imbibe that DNA so that it becomes your identity. It then starts to seep its way through the organization. So here's, here's a story that was, that was great.
It was probably about a year ago. Leeds were linked with signing a player. And I think that the coach rated him and we've got a, a guy in the club who does all our transfer business and signing players. And he's the, he's the very eccentric Spanish guy. Victor Orta that if you've seen the documentary on Amazon and and then anyways, so there were talks with him about signing this guy.
And anyway, there was also this other kid just coming through the ranks. Doing great, a [00:44:00] hot prospect, just a young kid and you know what? It's like young kids. We see a clubs, the world over you you'll see it at your club feel, we see kids do silly things. And and so one of the times this kid cause comes into training and a kid who's not really broken into the first team yet, but comes in kid kitted out in all this designer gear, carrying the, Prada
designer kind of man bag and just waltz into the training thing to do his workout. and a couple of the senior pros just pulled him to one side in a very calm, measured way. And basically tore a strip off him to say, listen, you might be able to do that elsewhere. But A, you've not earned the right to do that.
And B you look around this room, do you see us doing that? Do you see us carrying ourselves that way? So the next time you come into this room make sure you reflect who we are. Mm, and that wasn't the coach that wasn't the leadership team, hauling them into the disciplinary office and all of that kind of thing.
But from that place of trust [00:45:00] and confidence, and everybody now not just singing from the same hymn sheet, you know, that that's, you can sing from the same hymn sheet and then you can put the sheet down and pick up another one that if you don't like the song, but now suddenly the song it comes from within the, the vision comes from within.
Suddenly now everybody's speaking the same language. And, and that's when I really believe that success momentum, which is a huge thing. And when you're trying to build something suddenly starts to increase.
Phil: [00:45:27] Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's something that, as you said, it stems from the trust because if you don't trust the person, then you're not going to listen to anything they're saying, but if you do trust them and you see that they care, then you'll go to battle for them.
And so, with that, we talk about inspiration, Leaders inspire and leaders inspire in different ways, but what does that look like with Bielsa? What does his inspiration look like? How does he inspire the team and the club and really quite frankly, the supporters as well to be what they need to be.
What [00:46:00] does that look like?
Mark: [00:46:00] Yeah. I mean, it's an interesting one because as I said earlier, he's a man of few words. I don't know if you've ever seen him interviewed after a match. Absolutely. He looks like it's the last place on earth. He'd rather be he looks at the floor. He doesn't make eye contact.
It's like he speaks in a very, in a very monotone. Kind of way there's, there's no emotion now to put no emotion into the Spanish language is something because it's a very melodic language, you know, it's not German. it's melodic, it's it's up and down and it's emotive and so actually All the stereotypical signs of charisma, the things that we've traditionally equated with. Oh, he's a charismatic leader. He's an extrovert. Oh, my coach had them head button, the lockers before they came out in the locker room. We're going to tear it up and we're shouting in the face of the opposition.
And actually, I think there's something in life about calmness instilling calmness. That [00:47:00] enables functionality. if you rely on emotion, if you rely on all those things that are here one moment, and then gone, the next, you can be up there and flat the next you're in trouble. And I think one of the ways.
He's not particularly hands-on by the way, from what I hear and read and see in coaching he's he's present, but he's, he's developed, he's quite withdrawn in terms of day-to-day input with his players, but there's a way that he carries himself. There's a way that when he speaks to them and how he speaks to them, Makes the players feel like there is that connection.
And that has got to be a difficult thing to pull off. And I'm not even saying that's what we should all imitate because we can't all do that. if some of us withdrew from people that think, why is that person soul aloof, but he knows his strengths. I'm sure he knows his weaknesses.
And so he's made sure he's developed his managerial leadership style amongst what he already knows [00:48:00] he's good at and what he, isn't what he's not good at. He's not trying to bluff off a core convinced people that he is. Right. You know, the good, I don't know if that makes sense, but it does. It does. Yeah.
There's a way that he carries himself that just makes his players believe it's okay. And I am good enough and that is priceless. People will go the extra mile for you. If, as a leader, you can make them feel like they're not being judged. And, you know, in sports we're always being judged because you're on the team sheet one week and maybe not the next, but the amount of times I've seen him believe in people and nurture players through that, we were ready to cast to the bench and never, never wanted to see them pull the shirt on again. And suddenly now you look at them, you think, ah, maybe they can't do a job. And. There is that quality of stillness. I think that he brings, but anyway, I don't know what you make of that.
Phil: [00:48:51] I think that that's something that I agree with. and I think that one of the things we've talked a lot on the show is the idea of the different personalities and really [00:49:00] studying your players. But it starts with studying yourself. And I see with Bielsa a man who knows himself. And maybe he maybe he's faking all of us, but it just totally seems that he gets who he is.
He knows who he is. And he builds that trust in the players. Yes, but he is constant and he's consistent. And as you said, not every manager is going to be that guy, not every manager is going to be that calm presence that some of them will be that more just that typical quote, unquote, typical Inspirer, like, my personality is more of that.
Where I'm going to be more vocal. I'm going to be more of that out there, in front of people leader that he's really that leader who is just that quiet confidence that he is instilling, and that is what he is bringing. And it goes back to what we talked about earlier, to know who you are, to know your philosophy, to know what culture you are bringing to this, and to be consistent with that across the board.
And one of the things that he said in that documentary really, I [00:50:00] think hit me that this is why I believe what I believe about him is he said you can't convince the players of something you don't believe in. Absolutely. And especially when you've built that trust with them and they, you are consistent with them.
When you say something you don't believe in, it's obvious that you don't believe in it. But if you say stuff, if you built that trust with them over The time that you've been with them and you say stuff, no matter how you say it, it will. And it, or actually not, no matter how you say it, if as long as you say it in a way that is consistent with who you are with them, they will believe it and they will want to follow it if you are in fact, that leader.
So that's, that's what I, that's what I see with it. I don't know anything to add to it that?
Mark: [00:50:41] No, I think that's, I think that's exactly right. It's and again, I bring it back to where I started. You'd never have to look too far in life to see whether something's working or not. in sports decisions are made sometimes too hastily, but people are concluding this is working or this is not working. Time for him to go. [00:51:00] Time for is to try something different. We were talking about weren't we at the beginning about clubs with managers, maybe still trying to find their identity and we see that struggle being outworked before our very eyes and players who are talented players, who are gifted suddenly looking like really, should they be on the field because are looking bang average?
Not because they are bang average, but because now suddenly there's no trust. There's no confidence and it gets so therefore there's no foundation to perform. And I'm constantly amazed at how often we see that short term nature in sports. I appreciate there's a lot of money involved. I appreciate everybody wants to win, but sometimes some of the changes that are hastily made add-on at the expense of the future. And Jesus said something interesting, didn't he? Sorry, I didn't mean to bring it back to, but Hey, I'm a pastor, so on this, right. I'm going to just say, but he gave an account about just talking about a tree and he says, when you, when you dig in that tree, when you're looking after that tree, give it a few years, give it, give it two [00:52:00] years, give it three years.
If it's not producing anything after the next, then. cut it down. I'm not saying every manager, every coach gets four years, no far from it, but you've got to give something enough time to see whether there are any shoots there So there you go.
Phil: [00:52:14] Well, you know, Alex Ferguson got about three years.
Mark: [00:52:16] Yeah, he was two games from the, from being fired. That's right. And yet somebody thought, do you know what? I can see something. and history was then made and speaks for itself? Sometimes I think we're hasty too hasty goes back again to what I was saying about working what's with already within your hands, maybe we've all benched.
Some people in our different outlooks in life. And not because they're not good enough, but maybe we've not been able to see how they're being deployed or what's in there. maybe we're deploying them. Poorly, maybe they haven't got a left foot, but we keep putting them on the left wing.
Maybe they're a goalkeeper, but they can't catch, you know, again, we've got to take that responsibility.
Phil: [00:52:55] Absolutely. How many wingers have become outside backs? So with [00:53:00] that, you talk about the future. here's the thing about a lot of these. whether you want to call them celebrity leaders or just very strong leaders in organizations that have turned it around and developed a culture that is unorthodox, that is different.
So how do you prepare for the future with that? any great leader will prepare for his or her departure. And set up the organization for success after their departure. Yeah. What does that look like in a football club, particularly when Bielsa is so different from the rest? I mean, really?
I don't know of another maybe back in 15 with Leicester when they were, had a very similar yeah. Forward, just let's go after it, but they had a bit more defensive mindset as well, then Leeds. It's hard to be less. I mean, his, basically his, his defense is a strong attack, which is what I remember hearing in some of my coaches back in the early nineties.
how do you prepare for that? That future for, for his departure in that culture of the club to say it's not always going to be Bielsa. It's, there's going to be somebody [00:54:00] else in every organization. There will be somebody else if it's a strong organization and it's not totally dependent on that person.
Mark: [00:54:06] I think a couple of things in response to that, firstly, I'm praying that they never comes, but we all know it will. So we do, we joke with my friends and my family. We joke that, well, we're going to enjoy this ride while it lasts, because this time next year we'll probably have Sam Alldardyce and no disrespect to Sam Allardyce by the way who is successful in how he sees and how he views and how he outworks it.
But We know that a day's coming. I mean, he's a 65 year old man living away from home has pretty much done that most of his professional life. I think we as supporters are very aware of the personal sacrifice that he has made. That's why traditionally, wherever he has gone, he has worked on the basis with the various organizations over.
I don't want a long-term contract. I will work on a rolling year to year 12 month agreement. Which is how it's always been with Leeds. So every end of every year, we think, okay, is he coming back? And, [00:55:00] and we, we know that he is, but we know that day's coming when he isn't. And so I'm going to want to see your question.
From a fan's point of view, and then from a leaders perspective, from a fan's point of view, we're dreading it, but we're realists. And we know we have no divine right to succeed. We know that football is cyclical. I mean, look at your team at the moment you have the glory years of the nineties and the early noughties.
and now it's cyclical Liverpool in the eighties. and then relatively barren. and then it started to come through. Manchester City for years. Nowhere. And it's gone built on a different model, but got a great culture. And so it's been there season and you get the occasional Leicester's.
And so we're realists. we know where we are. We know that it won't last forever. The nature of football is you will win some and you will lose some and enjoy the good times and suck up the bad times. Now from an organization's point of view, how are we [00:56:00] preparing and how we looking forward?
One of the things that has delighted me is our team name is Leeds United. For the past 20 years, we probably could have been renamed Leeds Disunited or Leeds Dysfunctional, because now as an organization we've had crazy owners. We've had owners who've been out there for their own agenda. We've had owners who have.
Taken out without putting much in . we've had owners who've used us as a stepping stone without owners who have taken the club and withdrawn it from the city. So now there's no there, or there was no chemistry between the club and the city that it was representing. And so actually, even though we talked about Marcelo Bielsa a lot in this, in this podcast. A lot of credit has to go to the owner. Andrea Radrizzani because he's been totally different to what we've had before. And yes, he, along with Victor Orta and the Chief Executive Angus Kinnear had the vision to go and get a Marcelo Bielsa, but at the [00:57:00] same time, they built the foundations as now a club as a family club to now.
Reconnect with all of the different areas of the city that it used to, but for the past 15, 20 years, it hasn't. So it's built relationships. it's working in partnership with many different charities and social enterprises. It's doing so much good in the community, working with underprivileged kids and, not just football education, but education at large.
And remember at the beginning I was talking about, what is success? If it's just about how you are and how many games you win, then that's a small definition of success, which ultimately will not fulfill because it is cyclical. But now if you add into that, Other areas which may be aren't celebrated as much from the TV screens and from the bleachers and the stands and all that kind of stuff.
But you see here, we are contributing to a city here. We are contributing to a community at large, and here we see now the community connecting with [00:58:00] us and buying into us. Then you start to see success that I believe that has every chance of being longer lasting and more fruitful. So I think all those building blocks are being put in place.
Yes. Marcelo Bielsa. We may get one year, two years, three years tops out of him, but he will also know because it's not all about him and we're starting to see it. He will be putting things in place for the team post-Bielsa. And it is my hope. And it's my prayer that what he's building will last because you'll have seen it.
Oftentimes new people come in and they do away with the old and just want to assert themselves. And I think that's something we sometimes badly do in church, in ministry, in business. There is a place for honoring the past. Not that it becomes crippling or, sets an unattainable bar.
But there is a place for that. So a founder's perspective and a businessman's perspective, they're two different things, [00:59:00] but Hey, that sports, isn't it.
Phil: [00:59:01] So the and I also think that talking about sports unfortunately, and maybe fortunately, depending on which side of it, you're on. When a new manager comes in, they typically completely change everything.
And when it was a healthy culture before, that could be really bad for the organization, but what it was a toxic, unhealthy organization. before then, it's usually a good thing. And so you even see that with toxic organizations, when a manager comes in who has a healthy mindset That team usually has a bounce where they'll win a bunch of games you saw that with Solskaer coming in after Mourinho..
but the interesting thing you talked about with Bielsa is when you have a humble manager, They'll usually come in and be able to examine and analyze the best leaders that I've seen, come in and say, okay, what are the really, really good things about the culture currently? How can we maximize that and make it our own?
it's interesting. One of our old this, this relates to a lot of different things and we'll kind of end on this and then come into the next question, which are the last couple of [01:00:00] questions I have for our guests. But it was actually one of our former guests Eric Pfeiffer, who we had this chance meeting in the airport, which was pretty amazing story in itself.
We won't get into that, but he had me share about when I had taken over the organization that I currently run and I say taken over it, wasn't a coup it was actually just, that's how and any, any talk to me about your vision. And so I shared the vision and he goes, that doesn't sound like your vision.
Because I hadn't made it, to be me as the leader yet I basically erred on the other side, which was coming into, just. Take on what that past guy did. That's not healthy either because that leader needs to say, this is my leadership here. Not in an arrogant way, but in a, the leader of that professional will side of things, but also have that humble posture of what can I learn from the prior leader that, that was my predecessor? Because there's gotta be a lot of good that was there and it was, there was a ton of good. And so that's what I did. I studied. [01:01:00] Okay. What are the great things? And then, yeah. Where do we want to go? And how do we combine that together? And so that would come a lot of that would come from that continuity of that top level leadership.
Mark: [01:01:10] I mean, an interesting story there, if I can just throw that in, just absolutely back to what you're saying. Leeds is probably most successful, most famous manager. It was Don, a guy called Don Revy and he was our manager in the sixties and, that period of time when we were like the footballing force in the UK and he then went long story short.
he was promoted to the England job. So he became the national team coach. His replacement was a football coach that I'm sure many of your listeners will have heard of a guy w a wonderful guy called Brian Clough, full of charisma, very talented. Well-respected had a particular view about how the game should be played, which was at odds with how Don Revy, our previous coach felt the game should be played and going back to, new coming in and not being [01:02:00] able to handle that. The old it's, it's kind of folklore now here in the UK. And, but one of the first things he said to the players in the first training sessions, because he thought that Leeds were a, dirty team an aggressive team that they won really by bullying rather than playing the beautiful game.
And so he said to these players who were, Norman Hunter, Billy Bremner household names, footballers, who will go down in the hall of fame. And he said right then, and I'll clean up what he actually said, but he said, you might as well throw all your medals in the bin. Because you've only won them by cheating.
Now, imagine saying that. So now your resource that you're working with, right? Suddenly now there's a chasm between the coach and the players. It doesn't matter how great your insight is. Doesn't matter how great you are at analyzing and, and making decisions and strategically tweaking and doing. He had now alienated himself from his resource.
And as a result, he lasted 44 days. and got fired. So that all ties in with what you were saying there about [01:03:00] embracing learning. Yeah. You may think differently about. A B and C, but just because somebody else thought differently doesn't mean that they were wrong. Maybe there's there's things that can help you crystallize and all that kind of stuff.
So, yeah, absolutely agree with that.
Phil: [01:03:15] Definitely. There actually is a movie about that entire story. I can't say the title on this show because it may put us into the explicit category. I will put it in the show notes. Absolutely. You can check,
Mark: [01:03:26] you can check it out.
Phil: [01:03:27] It was a great is a great film. So the last couple of questions, one is how have you applied.
Applied the lessons you've learned directly from the game of soccer in your marriage and parenting in your home using these things you've learned.
Mark: [01:03:40] Yeah. if I was to bring it down to one thing which I've tried to live my life by, before I came across this phrase, which actually is the club's phrase.
We have this saying it's simply this side before self. Hmm. In everything that we do side before self. So as a team we are not a team with a star player that we [01:04:00] build around. That's not us. We certainly don't have the budget for that. Quite frankly, I'm quite relieved. We don't have the drama.
That comes with that. And all of that things being played out in the media and all, but that whole thing about side before self, there are great things that I bring to the table as, as a player. But it's the team. And so as a father, as a mother, sorry, as a mother. No, I'm not that kind of guy.
You're not as, as a father, as, as a husband is what I was going to say. Even as a leader, as a pastor I always have to ask myself, okay, am I making this decision? Because it makes my life easier. It reflects well on me. I remember one of the first, I don't know if I should be saying this, but I remember one of the first staff meetings I was saying earlier on I've led churches of all sorts of shapes and sizes.
One of the biggest churches that I led was in England. And it was a thousand people which for UK churches is pretty big. Hannah and I, we have a very I love my wife. We're married 21 years. And we're very [01:05:00] open. And so we took over this church, the first staff meeting that we had, we were all sat in the boardroom and I don't know, 15 or so people just in a team just sat around that table and we're making plans and we're doing all this and what should we do?
And initiatives and all of that. And suddenly. My wife and I will always bouncing ideas, agreeing, disagreeing, challenging, pushing back, but in, in, in a healthy way. And we were aware that as time was going on and we're asking people for ideas, the only two people eat style, everybody was chipping in after about 10, 15 minutes.
The only two people around the table talking were my wife and I, and it went something along this. Well, I think we should, along these kinds of lines. Well, I think we should do this. No, I don't think we should do that. That's not going to work. He, it, I mean, why would you want to do that? Well, I want to do that because I think this could happen.
And suddenly there was just silence around the table. And what that showed me was how uncomfortable many people are in disagreement. If you cannot be comfortable in disagreement, [01:06:00] you'll never build anything. As long as disagreement doesn't become personal. and so. As a husband, as a leader.
I now have to make sure that I listen and I take it at face value. You'd be amazed the amount of husbands who try and shut their wives down because they would rather be seen to be right. Rather than naturally be, right? Yeah. It would rather be seen to have the idea when we all know it came from her and that whole ethos of side before self the decisions that I make for my children.
It's because. I want them to succeed. I want them to fulfill all that as a, as a believer, what I believe God has placed in them. the decisions that I make career wise, the decisions that I make, I don't want to build something that's at the expense of my family. the most precious side that I will ever be a part of is my family unit.
So now I've got to make sure that what I'm building out there in work in business in ministry does am I putting another side above the side that [01:07:00] really counts? And when you can get that right at home, rather than that being a hindrance to what you're trying to build, actually it gives you the trust, the competence and the platform to build effectively.
So. I don't get it right all the time as Hannah would say if she was on this interview with us, forgive me everybody I'm aiming, I'm striving to be a better husband that you all are. I don't get it right all of the time, but that is something that I try and come back to side before self.
Nobody wants to win alone. You win alone, you'd be lonely. So yeah, that would be the thing that I try and live by.
Phil: [01:07:39] That's fantastic. and there are so many opportunities, both on the soccer pitch, as well as in the home to put self before side and, and to have a healthy team, to have a healthy, just the way you can, as leaders, if you're doing that, you're not leading.
Mm, and just plain and simple. And the other thing you said there is that [01:08:00] conflict, that healthy conflict that's so important. And there's a great, one of my favorite quotes on teamwork and leadership and just, the healthy teams is with the, by Patrick Lencioni and where he said, when there is trust.
Conflict becomes the search for truth. When there's no trust, conflict becomes politics and having to be right. And I think that that is so, so important for leaders to know and to remember, and then the other thing that he talks about is if it's a healthy, great meeting, there's nothing left to talk about after
the meeting in
And there's nobody no talking behind the backs. No other thing. So, so with that last question we ask, all of our guests is what have you read, watched or listened to too recently or just in your life that has most impacted your thinking on how soccer explains life and leadership?
Mark: [01:08:53] Do you know it's again?
I suppose I come back to. My answer to that question will be everything that I've just talked about. [01:09:00] Really that the last two and a half years better than any book that I've read because I've seen it play out before my very eyes I've seen. We all talk about turning an organization round.
Well, I've seen it turn. I, I've kind of grown up in churches, talk about we're going to do this and we're going to accomplish this and we're gonna start this. And, and we talk and we talk and we talk and we never do it. We never build it. We never, we never contribute. We never nothing appreciates because we are there.
And yet I see what has happened within, and I feel very privileged actually to be a supporter of a club where this could have happened anywhere, but this journey has happened. In a location that is precious to me. And maybe because of that, I'm not looking at this through and through Rose tinted spectacles, maybe because of that, I'm aware that it may hit home to [01:10:00] me more than most, I get that.
I'm not expecting everybody to become a dyed in the wall Leeds United fan. In fact, If anything, it probably is further entrenched their opposition So I'm hoping people can glean between the the founders further and the leadership principles, but to see the journey, I've got to say that it's just been wonderful to see a man have the confidence to be himself and to put a marker down and to invest in a bunch of people that everybody had thought would never make it.
And suddenly here we are. As you can probably tell, I don't even think I could put that into words eloquently enough. It has impacted me tremendously and I'd encourage anybody to watch that documentary on Amazon. I'd encourage anybody to read any of this stuff. particularly if they've got that coaching Frank Lampard the other day and, you know Frank Lampard and Marcelo Bielsa have a bit of history.
But he will always be respectful about the man's coaching, we'll refer to his coaching [01:11:00] literature that he's produced and, and how can it not impact? I suppose I, I, my last thing that I've got to say, if you don't have any more questions is, and this is what I love about him. There was a tweet that came out the other day, so I hope I get this right.
And it was in an article that somebody had written and Marcelo Bielsa started his coaching journey with a club in Brazil called Newell's Old Boys And he was a player. He was never the greatest player. Interesting. Isn't it? It's usually not the best players that make the best coaches.
And so he coaches were appointed at junior level in his club. And so he's retired as a player. So this first of all, the hot prospects. Recently retired player gets the best players. And then the guy kind of just below him gets the next pool of players. You know, he picks the next and so Mo Marcelo Bielsa is left with the leftovers to compete in another differently. And so at the club that I'll be playing training and all these other groups were playing with the ball, playing football. That'd be laughing. That'd be [01:12:00] joking. First training session, Marcelo says, put the footballs away, put your bibs down.
And he says for this whole session, I just want you to run. So they ran next day. I want you to run and they ran third day. Same again. And by now the guy the kids are saying, why are we doing all this running? Why, why can you not see them over there? They're playing, they're having fun. They're learning, they're doing shape.
And he said this, he says, by the end of this season, We will outperform those other teams and we will win the competition that we were in. And sure enough, what happened is they did that's exactly how it turned out. But the point is this. In one of the coaching sessions, one of the players one of the kids said to him Marcelo will be able to ask the question.
One of the kids answered. He asked the question in a game, how many opportunities do you think that there are realistically to score a goal? So the kids are looking around at one another thinking, I don't know, maybe four, five, six, maybe 10, if you're lucky. And [01:13:00] then out of nowhere he replies. He said, no, I've analyzed this, there are over 600 opportunities.
Now, I don't know where he got that from within 90 minutes of play to score a goal. That is why I make you run. That is why all my teams will be fitter than any other, because we will utilize every moment, every second of every game to get the victory. And again, that ties back to analysis that ties back to his ability to see not just the minutia, but also the bigger picture.
And when I hear things like that, and then when I see it, Out work on the field of play. I'm like, how, how can I not be impacted by this man? So I think I answered about four questions. You didn't ask that, but anyway, it's all good.
Phil: [01:13:46] That's where a lot of the gold comes from though. So I appreciate that and I appreciate you taking the time to be a part of this.
And I just. I look forward to getting this out to everybody because I have no doubt it will help others to [01:14:00] learn, little nuggets and some really big things as well. So thanks a lot, Mark.
Mark: [01:14:04] There you go. And in three years time, when Sam Allardyce is our manager come and interview me again and you'll find I've pulled all my hair out and probably disowned football, but until then, I'm going to ride this journey.
Phil: [01:14:14] Well, thanks a lot.
Mark: [01:14:16] My pleasure.
Phil: [01:14:17] All right, folks. Well, thank you again for the download. I appreciate again, you doing this and being a part of this show. So without any more today, cause this interview did go a little longer than we expected it to, but I think that was all for the good for all of us.
I think we're all better for it, but I do hope that you take everything that you're learning from this show. And I hope that you do go and take a look at that Take Us Home documentary and you learn from it as well, and you use all that you're learning to help you to be a better leader in every area of your life with everything that you're learning from the beautiful game. Thanks a lot. Have a great week.