Team success : mind-set, communication and having a strong jaw

Football is a team game played with eagerness and passion, based on simple philosophies and physicality, running fast, tackling hard, moving from one end of the pitch to the other end quickly, using simple, direct, forward passes and then, crossing, shooting and heading whenever you are anywhere near the opposition goal. It’s simplicity, like any team game, is in that success is based on unity, collective purpose and strong leadership of the team.

These are the best of times at Burnley FC, Champions of The Football League, 2015/16. A 23 game unbeaten run – half a season – has seen an unfashionable, unheralded team playing football with a streak of independence that is invigorating for the people of the town who can be forgiven for wondering whether it can ever get any better. The team create a sense of identity for the town, civic pride renewed, everyone is a Claret.

Turf Moor has been the home of the team since 1883, the oldest, longest continually used ground for a professional football team in the world. The theme of football and geographic identity can seem sentimental, overblown, but it’s real at Burnley. However, despite the new football economy, Burnley is still a traditional working-class sort of atmosphere, and the crowd feels like it’s got a bit older.

The players were out in the town on Sunday evening, larking around, pulling pints behind the bars and buying drinks for fans, a conspicuous, intimate and visible sign of success and connection in a town smaller than Bournemouth. However, whilst a football club can be an emblem for an area, it can’t be its principal economic driver and the idea of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ would be laughable if it wasn’t so patronising.

Amid the rush to over-complicate football, words such as respect, work ethic, discipline, pride and passion sometimes seem quaint, but they are tenets of the leadership philosophy of manager Sean Dyche, and key ingredients in extracting the honest toil he expects from his players, without which the importance placed on sports science would not mean so much.

Manager Dyche believes their togetherness and group mentality has played a massive part in their ability to gain promotion. Dyche is methodical in his trade, articulate and intelligent in his analysis and communication, respectful to the opposition and has an enthusiasm for research with a learner’s mentality – a powerful combination for an effective manager leading a high-performance team.

Endeavour is as entrenched at Burnley as ego is absent. Speak to what is largely a British core of players and they will tell you they have not encountered a dressing room like it. The impact on the dressing room of players such as goalkeeper and captain Tom Heaton, midfielder David Jones and centre-half Michael Keane, all of whom came through the ranks at Manchester United under the watchful eye of Sir Alex Ferguson, has been contagious.

Teams are more successful in pressure environments when they capitalise on their strengths and capabilities, and focus on building a sense of community, teamship if you like. By understanding how teams form and harness the talents, skills and abilities of each team member, building trust through open and honest communication, we can gain insight and create a framework for high performing teams.

As Burnley faced the run in of final games that defined the season, neck-to-neck and point-to-point with rivals, there was a calmness and confidence to the team going about their business, a sustained rhythm that all high-performing teams have. Dyche described it as ‘having a strong jaw’.

You could see the degree of focus, awareness and assurance that individuals had, performing in the knowledge that colleagues were equally on top of their game, as despite having four players in the Championship PFA team of the year – Heaton, Keane, Barton and Gray – the PFA player of the year – success was about team rather than individual performance.

So casting an eye over Dyche’s leadership style, and observing his Burnley team shaped in his own persona, personality and guile, what are the attributes of high-performing teams, in terms of their consistency of attaining and sustaining high performance levels and results, we can see in his team?

I believe there are three key attributes:

  • Communication
  • Team Processes
  • Mind-set and self-belief

Communication

There was always clearly visible communication between the team on the pitch, and leadership off it, during games. Heaton, captain and goalkeeper was vociferous and organised in front of him with clarity and rigour, Dyche always directing the team with positive and calm instruction, whilst engaged with his management team on the touchline throughout the game.

I admire the work by Alex Pentland, director of MIT’s Human Dynamics Lab, whose research into team communication found that there are patterns of communication between great teams:

  • Communicate frequently In a typical team a dozen or so communication exchanges per working hour may turn out to be optimum; but more or less than that and team performance can decline.
  • Talk and listen in equal measure, equally among members Lower performing teams have dominant members, teams within teams, and members who talk or listen but don’t do both.
  • Engage in frequent informal communication The best teams spend about half their time communicating outside of formal meetings or as asides during team meetings, increasing opportunities for informal communication tends to increase team performance.
  • Explore for ideas and information outside the group The best teams periodically connect with many different outside sources and bring what they learn back to the team.

Team Processes

Team selection and structure, organisation and discipline were outstanding attributes of the winning Burnley team – fewest yellow cards, no red cards, and eight players made 40+ appearances in a 46 game season. So what are best practices for effective teams that we can see in the Burnley team?

Here are ten themes from Best Practices in Team Leadership by Kevin Stagl, Eduardo Salas, and C. Shawn Burke.

Define and create interdependencies. There is a need to define and structure team members’ roles. Everyone has their position to play, and success happens when all of the players are playing their roles effectively.

Establish goals. Teams need to be focused on shared goals and outcomes. Commitment to that goal is essential for success. Team goals should allow both the team as a unit and the individual members to achieve both personal and group goals.

Determine how teams will make decisions. Whether the leader makes the decision, or it is a democratic or consensus process, the team needs to understand beforehand how decisions will be made. This reduces conflict within the team when a decision or choice has to be made.

Provide clear and constant feedback. Teams need to know how they are doing in order to stay motivated and to correct performance problems or inefficiencies. Ideally, a system should be in place so that team members receive on-going feedback.

Keep team membership stable. It takes a lot of time for team members to learn to work together at an optimum level. In sports, there is a relationship between how long team members have played together and their winning record.

Allow team members to challenge the status quo. It is critical that team members feel secure in being able to challenge processes if they feel that there is a way to improve. In order to innovate, teams need to be open to considering and constructively criticising existing practices when needed.

Learn how to identify and attract talent. Just as processes sometimes need improvement, teams can get better by attracting new talent. Organisations that put a lot of resources into identifying and recruiting talent simply do better.

Use team-based reward systems. Too much emphasis on individual rewards can lead to in-fighting and resentment. A combination of individual and team-based rewards is often best.

Create a learning environment. Emphasise the development of the team, learning through successes, but particularly through mistakes. A team with a culture of continuous improvement and where members are motivated to develop their skills and knowledge are high-performing teams.

Focus on the collective mission. Mission-driven teams perform better because they see beyond their individual workload and tasks and feel as if they are working for a higher purpose. It is imperative that team members be committed to the shared mission, or they should be replaced.

Mind-set

Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable. Believe you can and you’re halfway there, as the saying goes. The worst enemy to Burnley on the field would have been their own self-doubt.

So what gave Burnley this self-starter attitude and self-belief, what was their framework for his mental toughness and inner confidence?

Belief in self: First and foremost, every player has to believe in their abilities and strengths. They believed they could make great things happen. I’ve never met a successful person with low self-esteem. Self-belief is vital, how many things have you not done or tried because you lacked belief in yourself? As Eleanor Roosevelt so deftly put it: Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Belief in beating the odds: To be successful, we have to be open minded, with no sense of what you cannot do. But, bit-by-bit, life starts to teach you to limit yourself. There is no second-guessing.  As they say, those who say they can and those that say they can’t are both right.  If you don’t believe you can beat the odds – chances are you won’t.

Belief to deal with the inner negative voice: When you start to doubt yourself listen for a moment to that negative inner voice. Whose voice is it really? It’s often a collection of lots of different voices from different times and people from your past that causes self-belief to wane. One thing’s for sure, that inner self-critical voice shouldn’t be yours. It may masquerade as belonging to you now, but it doesn’t really. One of the first steps is to re-examine and discard many of the limiting ideas you have about yourself, ideas that you’ve somehow collected along the way. Get rid of the baggage!

Belief in flipping a weakness into strength: Dumbo, my favourite cartoon character, was humiliated by his outsize ears. He hated them at first. But, through time, he came to use them, to fulfil his destiny, even changing his attitude. Like Dumbo, if we just focus on what is not right about ourselves rather than what is, then we miss opportunities for self-belief. Focusing on perceived weaknesses without either taking steps to improve them or also giving fair focus toward our strengths gets us nowhere. Know that the positive flipside of a weakness, in the right context, can be put to good use.

Belief in perseverance: This is a big attribute of successful people down the years. The obstacles that cause many to quit are minor setbacks for the true champion – relegation in 2015 was a key motivation. Winners persist, losers desist. It is often that simple difference in self-belief that separates the successful person from the frustrated failure.

Belief in the vision: For Dyche, his vision was bigger than just the winning. It was a vision of being part of a champion team. It was never about his personal success, but being part of a collective team. His self-belief got him into the role, his self-belief helped him be part of a winning team.

Life has a unique perspective. Along the way, various landing pages, trials and tribulations will offer themselves up. It’s self-belief that determines your direction and ultimately success – its not how often you’re knocked over but how many times you get up that makes the difference.

Whilst modern football can be disillusioning for supporters, this squad played like they were all born and raised in Burnley. The communication, team processes and dynamics, and self-belief were palpable underpinnings of their success. So was their strong jaw when it mattered most.

We must all hang together assuredly or we shall all hang separately, said Benjamin Franklin. For many organisations, developing highly successful teams can be a tricky task. Simply putting talented individuals together does not always deliver the best results. In an increasingly competitive world high performing teams is critical to success.

High performance teams have a mentality to succeed

Burnley and Bolton dished up a fierce Lancashire derby on Saturday in their Sky Bet Championship league match, the Clarets edging it 2-1 and this morning stand proudly at the top of the league. A large, noisy following of 4,500 Clarets supporters filled up the top and bottom two tiers of the away end at Bolton, providing a quite raucous cacophony of sound.

Twelve games to go in the race to the Premiership, and the Clarets are relentless in their pursuit of a second promotion in three seasons. With a league record of Pl34 W18 D11 L5, Burnley has sustained a place in the Championship’s top five since September. It’s a tight knit squad, Burnley have used the least number of players in the division with only 20 starting league games.

Manager Sean Dyche believes their togetherness and group mentality will play a massive part in their ability to continue to compete for promotion. Dyche is methodical in his trade, articulate and intelligent in his analysis and communication, respectful to the opposition and has an enthusiasm for research with a learner’s mentality – a powerful combination for an effective manager leading a high-performance team.

Examples of high performing teams are pervasive. From surgical teams to Cirque du Soleil to emergency rescue teams, these teams showcase their accomplishments, insights, and enthusiasm and are a persuasive testament to the power of teamwork. The excel because team members apply a strong combination of diverse skill sets and experiences to their work, agree on common goals and expectations, communicate clearly, foster an environment of trust, and take individual ownership in the success

Teams are more successful in pressure environments when they capitalise on the team’s strengths, interests and capabilities and focus on building a sense of community, a teamship if you like. By understanding how teams form and become dysfunctional, harnessing the talents, skills and abilities of each team member and building trust through open and honest communication, we can gain insight and create a framework for high performing teams.

So casting an eye over Dyche’s leadership style, and observing his Burnley team, shaped in his own persona, personality and guile, what are the attributes of high-performing teams, in terms of their consistency of attaining and sustaining high performance levels and results?

There is clear unity of purpose Make the team’s purposes clear, and articulate the team’s performance goals. There should be free discussion of the objectives until members can commit themselves to them, ensuring the objectives are meaningful to each team member.

Clarify each person’s role in achieving the common purpose Define each person’s role in terms of its contribution to the team’s overall goals. This must be done in specific terms, not in vague generalities.

The group is self-conscious about its own operation The group has taken time to explicitly discuss group process – how the group will function to achieve its objectives. The group has a clear, explicit, and mutually agreed-upon approach on mechanics, norms, expectations, rules, etc. Frequently, it will stop to examine and reflect how well it is doing.

Alignment It goes without saying that trust, respect and camaraderie are underpinning essentials for a high-performing team to sustain a high level of performance. The team values cooperation, coherence and interdependence when the team has a common mission and purpose, and as Jim Collins states, Getting the “right people on the right seats on the bus” is more important than planning “where the bus should go” An army without a goal is just a bunch of violent men.

Each individual carries themself Meeting or exceeding the expectations of other team members, each individual is respectful of the mechanics of the group – arriving on time, coming prepared, completing agreed upon tasks on time, etc. When action is taken, clears assignments are made (who-what-when) and willingly accepted and completed by each group member.

The atmosphere tends to be informal, comfortable, relaxed There are no obvious tensions, it’s a working atmosphere in which people are involved and interested. People are free in expressing their feelings as well as their ideas. There is a lot of discussion in which virtually everyone participates but it remains pertinent to the purpose of the group. Team members listen to each other, every idea is given a hearing. People are not afraid by putting forth a different idea, even if it seems extreme.

Criticism is frequent, frank and relatively comfortable Criticism has a constructive flavour, oriented toward removing an obstacle that faces the group. However, those who disagree with the general agreement of the group do not keep their opposition private and let an apparent consensus mask their disagreement. The group does not accept a simple majority as a proper basis for action.

Acknowledge success, and reward the team as a whole Celebrate the team achieving important milestones. Acknowledgments of incremental successes can be more motivating than big end-of-project rewards. Keep in mind that the team review can never take the place of individual performance reviews.

Acknowledge success, and reward everyone individually, including a review of his or her teamwork As members of a team, the expectations and criteria for individual performance include showing a spirit of cooperation, engaging in good communication with others, and being willing to help others solve problems or get through crunch times. If feasible, encourage all team members to provide meaningful feedback to one another. Be sure to give each team member specific feedback about his or her strengths and any unique role that the person served on the team rather than just focusing on problems or performance gaps.

Pay attention to conflicts when they arise It’s natural for conflict to arise when people work together with intensity. Conflict, handled well, can produce constructive ideas. Sometimes team members will annoy each other, step on each other’s toes, or hurt each other’s feelings. Honest disagreements can become personal and heated. Let problems come to the surface and avoid the impulse to demand that the team members ‘just let it go’, unpack it and resolve it fully.

A sense of modesty & equality Modesty is critical to developing and maintaining positive working relationships. An individual whose ego is so self-inflated with their own self-worth will quickly run into trouble. Team members will reject and avoid them, productivity will suffer. Everyone in a high-performing team contributes through assigned roles. While there are different levels of responsibility, they still deserve to be treated with respect.

Make sure team members interact Encourage team members to ask each other for help and to offer it to each other. Synergy on teams is achieved when team members feel comfortable speaking up with suggestions that build on the creativity of other team members. This requires collaboration not competition.

So that’s the positive side of teams, but what we also need to consider is that things can come off the rails. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni describes the many pitfalls that teams face as they seek to ‘row together’. He explores the fundamental causes of organisational politics and team failure. According to Lencioni, there are five dysfunctions of teams:

  • Absence of trust: unwilling to be vulnerable within the group
  • Fear of conflict: seeking artificial harmony over constructive passionate debate
  • Lack of commitment: feigning buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the organisation
  • Avoidance of accountability: ducking the responsibility to call peers on counterproductive behaviour which sets low standards
  • Inattention to results: focusing on personal success, status and ego before team success

Teams that are cohesive, productive, and efficient don’t happen by accident and counter the above threats with their cadence and self-awareness. Successful teams are cohesive because team members work cooperatively, sharing common goals as well as the resources to achieve them. They are productive, not because team members never disagree, but because they have worked out ways to resolve conflicts when they occur.

They are efficient because tasks are assigned in a way that takes into account each member’s skills and interests, rather than letting the team be dominated by the most verbal, most aggressive, or most popular personalities. Managers play an essential role in developing and leading teams that work in these ways.

As Burnley face the run in of twelve games that will define the season, there is a calmness and confidence to the team going about their business, there is a sustained rhythm that all high-performing teams have. You can see the degree of focus, awareness and assurance that individuals have, performing in the knowledge that colleagues are equally on top of their game.

These are good times, when a slightly unfashionable, unheralded team is playing football with a streak of independence that is so invigorating for the people of the town who can be forgiven for wondering whether it could ever get any better.

Football is a team game played with eagerness and passion, based on simple philosophies such as running fast, tackling hard, moving from one end of the pitch to the other end quickly, using simple, direct, forward passes and then, crossing, shooting and heading whenever you are anywhere near the goal. It’s simplicity, like any team, is in the fact that the success is based on unity and collective purpose, and strong leadership.

Well-integrated, high-performing teams – those that ‘click’ – never lose sight of their goals and are largely self-sustaining. In fact, they seem to take on a life of their own. Besides the quality of the team, it all comes down to leadership. Research shows that sustained high performance teams always have a leader who creates the environment and establishes the operating principles and values that are conducive to high performance. The leadership formula involves working backwards – leaders envisage the future before dealing with the present.

The four most significant behaviours consistently demonstrated by high-impact leaders in high-performing teams are:

  • Defining clear goals or a vision of the future in accordance with overall organisational aims (the ‘big picture’)
  • Creating blueprints for action to achieve those goals
  • Using language to build trust, encourage forward thinking and create energy within the team by powerful conversations.
  • Getting the right people involved

Smells like team spirit at Burnley, on and off the pitch. As Dyche said after Saturday’s victory at Bolton, they know the mentality to be successful and we have that in abundance.

 

 

Relentless: leadership lessons from Sean Dyche, manager Burnley FC

Burnley moved five points clear in second place in the Championship on Saturday, beating fellow promotion hopefuls Derby County 2-0 to extend their unbeaten run in the league to 11 matches, and complete a full calendar year unbeaten at home.

With a league record of Pl33 W18 D12 L3, Burnley has sustained a place in the Championship’s top three since September. It’s a tight knit squad, Burnley have used the least number of players in the division with only 18 starting league games. While the squad is small, manager Sean Dyche believes their togetherness and group mentality will play a massive part in their ability to continue to compete for promotion.

What Dyche doesn’t state is the significant impact he has had on the squad – with just one player added for a fee of £750k to the team that finished 14th last season, conceding 1.3 goals per game. This time round the team has let in just 26 goals in 33 games to date, and just for good measure, last season’s top scorer Charlie Austin left for QPR for £4m four days before the season started. The Turf Moor crowd have given Dyche the accolade ‘Ginger Mourinho’, although he’s known not to like the tribute.

Sean Dyche played a total of 460 football league games. Perhaps his most famous game was an FA Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough, when Middlesbrough won despite Chesterfield scoring a legitimate goal that was over the line, but decreed it hadn’t. It robbed Chesterfield of a Cup Final appearance, as they lost the replay 0-3.

Dyche won promotion with four clubs as a player, maybe this is his time as a manager. He is developing his own clear style. There have been tracksuit-clad tyrants such as former Forest boss Brian Clough, urbane intellectuals like Arsenal coach Arsène Wenger, and ego-centrics such as Mourinho, a polyglot sophistication and a taste for the theatrical.

Dyche is methodical in his trade, articulate and intelligent in his analysis and communication, respectful to the opposition and has an enthusiasm for research with a learner’s mentality – a powerful combination for an effective manager. Having studied his interviews, watched him closely at home and away matches, and assessed his impact at Burnley, here are my thoughts on Dyche’s management principles we can take into business.

1. A balanced management team Dyche’s management team of Ian Woan, Tony Loughlan, Billy Mercer and Mark Howard are all different. That makes for a good process because if everyone gives the same answers, or you have yes-men, then you never get a better outcome. Dyche uses his management team proactively on match day, they are as animated and engaged, he works closely on the touchline with his team, constantly observing, pointing out and engaging with them to highlight areas for improvement. Attention to detail and in the moment creates a focus.

Dyche says, All give a different opinion and we’ve all got different ideas, whether it’s training, planning, team preparation, or on players. So we all throw them about as wisely as we can then, of course, it’s up to me to make the end decision, but it’s nice to have that support system of a staff that is very honest and very open with their opinions, in order to get the best outcome we can.

2. Who cares wins. There is no denying the phenomenal passion that Dyche has for football and for Burnley. It’s a simple truth but one that is often forgotten – the very best leaders acre deeply about what they do. As Apple founder Steve Jobs said: the only way tobe truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do.

3. Maximum effort is the minimum requirement Dyche has transformed the Clarets into a well respected side, as a result of a high-performance cocktail of an ultra-dedicated backroom team, meticulous planning, and a team willing to go that extra yard with one of Dyche’s favourite sayings as their backbone: maximum effort is the minimum requirement. From that, you can see the organisation, commitment, spirit and determination that makes the whole much greater than the sum of the parts.

Dyche said I had a chat with each of them individually and made it clear what I wanted. The demands were laid out openly. It was about mentality, fitness levels, how we were going to play as a team and how each individual was going to contribute. I want to believe it is possible – I always trust my work.

4. Connect with individuals Dyche consciously takes time to connect with every member of his organisation as individuals – from first team players to office staff – to get to know them personally, and understand their different drives and ambitions. This enables him to judge the true mood of the group and tailor his communication to each person individually.

Dyche has personally mentored and supported a number of players this season who have transformed their performances such that they are having the best season of their careers – Sam Vokes, Keith Treacy and Scott Arfield are the obvious picks in an over-achieving team.

Dyche has a sense of purpose and determination derived from his passion, but with a deep vein of humanity and treating people with genuine interest. I watched a video of him in a training session. He was encouraging Keith Treacy, watching him closely. Treacy stuck at it – Decent Keith, decent! encouraged Dyche, followed by a celebratory Champagne! accolade from Dyche as Treacy produced an outstanding piece of skill. As Treacy acclaims, Dyche is capable of connecting with you individually and changing your mentality.

5. Be the man that makes the difference Another of Dyche’s sayings which resonates. His shaven-headed, physically imposing presence belies a sophisticated approach to the game. I know how to treat injured players. I don’t go in and say: ‘are you fit yet?’ That’s acid. You don’t want to hear that from a manager. I just say: ‘How are you feeling? Keep going.’ 

Our players don’t walk off the coach with their headphones around their neck. They are smart in and out of the building. I’m a humble lad with good morals from my parents. Work hard. If you have to clean the floor, make it the cleanest floor ever.

More than anything, it seems Dyche greatest talent is selling his players on the importance of putting the team before the individual as a core responsibility. He’s got the remarkable ability to merge individual talent as a team rather than being dazzled by individual brilliance.

6. Strong at home, strong at work This communicates a man with a strong attachment to his family. I have no doubt he is great father, husband and brother as much as he is a great manager. There is no point in being successful everywhere else and failing to be a hero to your own family. A strong family builds a strong support structure and ensures a stable and focused mind. Dyche often talks about his brothers, and his family ethic.

This underpins Dyche’s broader model of man-management that shuns the old-school approach of haranguing people for bad performance, and instead treats his team as an extension of his family. The loyalty and devotion he shows to his players is met in kind. He’s a master at instilling belief into those he himself believes in. People talk about transformational leadership, Dyche portrays a confident leader, whether or not he’s actually feeling pressurised, who is able to make a difference to the situation.

7. Open Mindedness Dyche attributes Burnley’s success on open-mindedness and freeing his side from fear. Dyche has made open-mindedness a mantra, encouraging it from his players and employing the term frequently at press conferences. Once they have done the basics, they have the freedom to play. They are encouraged to do that and it enhances what they can offer as individuals. I think these players can achieve whatever they want to. It’s about being open-minded. They know they’re organised, they know they’re fit enough and it allows them that mental clarity to go for the performances.

If you don’t believe in yourself, you should not expect anyone to believe in you. You have to trust your own decisions and have faith in your own abilities. Often self-confidence is misconstrued for arrogance, an overbearing, excessive opinion of one’s self. Dyche’s approach is more about valuing and respecting your own perspective, and being the best you can be.

8. Pride When Dyche took the job, he said, They asked me what was the thing I remembered most about Burnley after playing here. I noticed there were always Burnley shirts around the town. You would drive through the town and there would be shirts everywhere. There is an obvious connection between people and the club. It’s a good old-fashioned trait that the people genuinely support the club. Dyche has used the bond – our town, our turf, our team – to build a strong connection between the team and the fans, a sense of responsibility that the team has for wearing the shirt and representing the town, and the fans. It’s become tribal.

9. Look after your team Dyche has eased down the physical hands-on coaching, he looks more at players’ body language. Are they up or down? Are they ready? He monitors players and staff. You have to know players as people, know their quirks. I can almost smell their mood. I call it ‘horse whispering’. I watch them, then pop around after training, ask them if they’re OK. I tell them: ‘Well done Saturday, different class.’ I read ‘The Horse Whisperer’. If that can apply to a horse, with all due respect to a horse, it must apply to humans. Treat them correctly, respectfully. I ask their thoughts. They open up.

Perhaps one of the worst impacts of the economic downturn has been the growing tendency to pass the buck, managers attempting to safeguard or promote their own ambitions, ahead of the wider goals of their team or the company they work for. For Dyche, it’s all about the team and there is no question that he inspires fierce devotion in his players. In many ways his large but understated persona ensures that he is a dominant figure. He takes the pressure off his team, as he becomes a bigger focus than the players.

At a time when many managers are loather to go beyond the corporate soundbite, the power of a genuine, passionate and honest figurehead should not be underestimated.

10. Winning is a mentality.  It’s a great feeling when you look into their faces in the tunnel before kick-off and know how hard they are going to go to win.  I was promoted four times with four different clubs and that same level of respect and honesty was there each time. I can feel that with these Burnley players. It’s not about the money, but the glory of winning.

If you believe you can, or can’t, both ways, you are right, Henry Ford said. Dyche sets high standards for himself and believes in a winning mindset. Watching Burnley play under Dyche is like watching hungry lionesses pouncing their prey. They show zeal, hunger and unquenchable thirst to emerge the best.

You should not be okay with average. As Michelangelo says, our biggest tragedy is that we set low goals and achieve them.

11. Learner’s mentality I tell the players I’ve had my time as a player but I now have a chance of making you better. My job is to guide them. For my Pro-licence, I went and studied the Oxford University Boat Race and I use snippets from there to inspire my players. I got down to the boathouse at 5.45am and the lads were there. They have these ergo rowing machines, set up facing a wall with a blackboard.

Written in chalk is ‘Boat Race’ the start time and date. They all face that. I loved that. ‘That’s where we are going’. Those rowers want to be part of history. They don’t get money. In the Oxford boathouse, there’s this meeting room with massive boards all the way round containing the names of all the people who have been in the boat. They are desperate to get on there. I’ve said to the players, Burnley is a founder member of the Football League, a heritage to respect. You can make your own Burnley history this year, be relentless, be limitless in your performance.

Ask me the secret of Dyche’s success so far this season, and I will say it is his honesty, simplicity in his communication, and the empathy he has for his players.  Last season 79 points won Hull promotion, today Burnley has 66 points from 33 games with 13 remaining.  April sees the centenary of Burnley’s 1914 FA Cup final win, our only cup win, what a double celebration we could have! Our town, our turf, our team, our time, with Dyche’s management framework getting us there:

  • Maximum effort is the minimum requirement
  • Be the man that makes the difference
  • Be relentless, be limitless