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5. November 2020
HR Expert Interview: Leadership Lessons from FC Bayern Munich
When it comes to excellence in all its forms, you don't have to look much farther than FC Bayern Munich. Basically, when you think of ‘winning’, you think of FC Bayern.
This titan of German and European football is regarded as one of the most successful clubs in the world, both in how it performs and the way it is run.
From the pitch to Personio, for our latest HR Expert Interview, Laura Schroeder, Personio’s Head of Brand, sat down with Julia Willer, a Human Resources Manager with FC Bayern. She shared how leadership, core values, and team spirit have informed every way FC Bayern does business.Download our latest whitepaper on business resilience today.
Leadership: The FC Bayern Way
A football team is never simply about players scoring goals and lifting trophies, but a well-built organization making things happen behind the scenes.
This kind of coordination is vast, across multiple disciplines and positions, all focused on helping the team do their job — and being part of the overall team, at the same time.
So, for Julia Willer, this makes leadership a central tenet of FC Bayern’s approach. When it comes to leadership, she thinks of it in three distinct ways (that don’t depend on title).
These include leading:
For an international team like FC Bayern, which has had its own meteoric rise internationally over the past two decades, leading by example is essential.
So, for them, it’s key that they have their own core values, that they establish a unique structure (on and off the pitch), and that they all act with the passion that fuels the final product.
In this way, the entire organization becomes part of FC Bayern’s success story. They become part of the winning pedigree that Bayern has established across Europe and live it every day.
How Does FC Bayern View and Develop Leadership?
For the HR team at FC Bayern, they have great role models for leadership when it comes to the team they help support. So, let’s think about who leads the team from the top.
Every great football club has a top-tier manager, someone who is a leader and is able to inspire and optimize the performance of the talent they have at their disposal.
[Being a leader] is about noticing, deciding, and acting.
Julia Willer, HR Manager, FC Bayern Munich
The first key is to notice what’s going on, to be aware of the situation and the options at your disposal. The next is to decide from those options and evaluate them in turn.
Lastly, one needs to act.
Not only does one need to decide on what to do, but they need to own that decision and ‘claim it’. That level of responsibility falls on the coach, but it can also fall on every person involved.
Watch the full interview here:
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Success At FC Bayern: Focus On Your Strengths
If you’re going to describe the culture and pedigree at FC Bayern, the term ‘strength’ is a great place to start.
While, in some cases, they may mean strength in a literal sense, it’s probably more productive to think about the concept of strengths and how they work together to create a perfect harmony of sorts.
Case In Point: Manuel Neuer
Let’s take one player, for example, Manuel Neuer. As FC Bayern’s goalkeeper, and one of the top goalkeepers in the world, he knows exactly where his strengths lie.
While he may be skilled enough to play as a striker, scoring all the goals for the team, he knows his true skills lie as the team’s goalkeeper. Instead, stopping goals from happening in the first place.
It’s this kind of principle that allows success to flow from the top down at FC Bayern. Everyone acknowledges what makes them strong, and contributes what they are good at for the benefit of the team.
Development At Every Level
On top of that, not only knowing your strengths but developing them, is crucial. While it looks like the game may come easy to professionals, it’s the culmination of thousands and thousands of hours of work.
The same is true for any profession. You don’t get where you are by accident, you get there by investing the time in getting better and augmenting your strengths with the tools at your disposal.
In fact, that’s how you lead. Julia discusses continuing to push and innovate and ensure that you’re getting better at what you do — pushing forward for a higher purpose and an end goal that may even change with time.
After all, FC Bayern began by becoming the best team in their city, in the country, in Europe, and then perhaps the world. It didn’t all happen at once, but the goals changed as the team pushed higher and higher.
What Final Takeaways Can We Learn From FC Bayern?
When it comes to being successful in your role, especially as an HR professional, there’s a lot we can learn from the team at FC Bayern — both those who play and those who work behind the scenes.
Taking responsibility, being proactive instead of reactive, and trying to understand how things "move” within your own team. Julia mentions each of these are all key factors for success.
Knowing where your colleagues are ‘moving’, what projects they are working on, and where they want to go and what they want to achieve. Each of these is so important for overall success.
One of the most important things you can do is setting clear goals and expectations for your teams, knowing where you want to go and that you want to be a champion at what you do.
If you establish clarity around each of these things, then it becomes clear to everyone around you. Much like a team trying to win the trophy at the end of the year, you’re all singularly focused on your collective goal.
Lessons From A Leading Team
Ultimately, leadership at Bayern Munich isn’t always about titles. It’s about ownership.
Not only do you need to know what you want, and how you can best get there, but how you can work with others to get where you need to go. Together, as a group, you can win.
Lastly, understand the game, and the system, in order to become a champion in your own right.
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