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Interdependent 2 – dependent 0: how your team culture beats your game plan every time

team culture in organziations

Discover how a team culture beats your game plan every time.

– 5 mins read –

On Saturday 9th November 2019 Leicester City played Arsenal in the English Premier League. Football (soccer) pundits and fans alike will have mulled over the reasons why Leicester were able to win comfortably in a performance that left the Arsenal manager under significant pressure.

At Performance Consultants we have our own theory, driven by our 40 years of working and studying performance in organizations across the world. It was highlighted in a recent webinar by one of our world-class Professional Coach Facilitators and is a great example of an Interdependent vs Dependent mindset.


Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers: “The way it’s been going for a period of time now, it’s nice because the players know they have the qualities to win any game against any opposition.

“You’re playing against a top team with really good players, so you have to be patient, but we showed real quality to break through. A very, very important three points.

“He [Jamie Vardy, Leicester’s top striker] is up there with the very, very top strikers in European football with what he brings to a team, his pressing. We’ve allowed him to do essentially what he wants to do – he’s so honest, he’d press the whole back four if he could.”

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Arsenal manager Unai Emery: “In the end, a bad result but we did our game plan, thinking right in the moment and we did that and when they scored the first goal was the moment maybe”.

Firstly, it’s worth cutting Unai Emery some slack, as the Spanish manager isn’t articulating his thoughts in his mother-tongue. However, are Emery’s comments revealing about a more restrictive, command-and-control mindset? Clearly, he felt that sticking to the game plan was important. More important than the win perhaps.

This sort of managerial style creates a Dependent culture where employees (players in this example) focus more on the plan than what is happening in front of them.

Contrast this to Brendan Rodgers of Leicester City who notes how he has given autonomy to his best goal-scorer Jamie Vardy. In an Interdependent culture employees (or players) know the game plan but can react in the moment to the challenges that face them.

Only time will tell whether Unai Emery’s focus on the game-plan will bear fruit in the end. But with Leicester City on the march in second place, and Arsenal struggling relatively in sixth, it looks like Unai Emery could do with studying The Performance Curve and booking onto our Coaching for Performance programmes.

If you want to find out about how we work with leaders, teams and whole organizations to create high-performance Interdependent cultures, please get in touch.

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