For the first time since 1966, the England men’s football team have reached the final of a major championship. Unsurprisingly, Gareth Southgate, the manager, is receiving a lot of attention.

Like most managers, most of the focus is on the things that can be easily seen: the team selection, the formation and tactics, the substitutions, his post-match interviews and even whether or not he’s wearing a waistcoat.

Some of these factors are important, but they’re the tip of a very large iceberg. Most of the critical actions he’s taken are invisible to the general public.

These include the coaching courses he’s taken; the research on the opposition; watching and assessing potential England players; building relationships with players, clubs and their managers; developing a positive team culture across the England squad; choosing and developing his coaching and support team; understanding and developing the relationships between players and finding out who plays well together; creating an overall team strategy and coaching plan; building strong relationships with the FA’s senior managers; improving his communication skills; reviewing and learning from previous games; and persisting with a clear approach in the face of doubts and opposition.

In other words, Southgate’s success and leadership, in general, is not really about the ‘big’ decisions in the ‘big’ games; it is about the myriad of invisible, unseen background actions that create an environment capable of generating better results.

Off The Record: Three Lions by Skinner, Baddiel and The Lightning Seeds

Everyone seems to know the score

They’ve seen it all before

They just know, they’re so sure

That England’s going to throw it away

Going to blow it away

But I know they can play

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