From Humiliating to Surviving and Thriving

I once played in a football team that got beaten 15-1. What made it worse was it was only 2-1 at half time. It was a capitulation and a humiliation. Our goal keepers confidence was shattered and our star striker never played for us again. And yet the core of that team went on playing together for several very successful seasons. People respond differently to major set backs and so do organisations. 


Sometimes when the worst happens and you survive then you lose any fear you have. Well some people do others like the goalkeeper never truly recover or like the star striker quickly distance themselves. To be brutally honest I wouldn’t want either of them in my team. We didn’t lose because of the goal keeper but as the second half wore on he simply stoped believing in his ability or that of his defenders. The star striker didn’t give up nor did he complain at the lack of service, he didn’t say anything after the game he just took his boots elsewhere. He wanted to play for a better team rather than make this a better team and I thought less of him for that.

I have seen similar responses in Local Authorities after a death in care, a damming service inspection or being placed in special measures. Some people are irrrapairably damaged by the intense and often personal criticism, others walk away saying, “nothing to do with me”.

We didn’t abandon our goal keeper he didn’t want to play in goal any more so we played him on the right wing for the remainder of the season. 


One thing I do remember people still wanted to play for us. Why? 

Well we had a good captain and  leader, we had people who were determined this would not happen again, we believed we were better than this and we were able to convince some equally determined people to join us. And this I think is the lesson for Local Authorities show confidence in your people especially your leader, don’t bow to the pressure to attribute blame or identify scapegoats, having survived the worse that can happen lose the fear ,be bold and be brave. Good people will join you.


Blair Mcpherson former Director , author and blogger 

Security level: Public

More Blog Entries

Hire and Fire with Impunity

In 2011 the Harvard Business Review published the findings of 10 years research into...

The Oxymoron Manager

We need to be bold whilst at the same time not taking unnecessary risks, we need to be...