Natural Superheroes – The Value of Profiling Football Teams

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shutterstock_444343870Why the coming together of England’s best players will not necessarily make the best international team and what can England maybe change from an enneagram perspective to realise their potential?

Please let me make this clear. I am not a football coach – I am an expert in motivational profiling and my passion is for sharing my insights with people and teams to realise even more of their potential. This blog post is written purely from an Enneagram perspective. This strategy requires testing and development of the individuals to function at the healthiest aspects of their profiles.


For those of you not familiar with the Enneagram it is a study of the ego. It helps us to understand ourselves and others at the deepest of level so we can become aware of and appreciate even more each others’ emotional strengths and weaknesses. When applied well, it enables us to work together effectively, helps each other in moments of crisis and leaves clues as to how people might succeed in their chosen career in healthy and sustainable ways – hence the ways of the Natural Superhero.

As I watched the England vs Iceland match in the European Championships I could see the challenges that would probably arise during this important and exciting match. As the team came out of the tunnel, lined up and then sang the national anthem my heart sank. I could see that the lack of profile mix within the England team was likely to deliver a poor team performance under pressure.

England’s team was made up of all 9/1 Enneagram profiles (with the exception of Rooney) and the weight of the England fans’ expectation was certainly on their shoulders. I was relieved when Vardy came on (another 6/7 like Rooney) but from my enneagram perspective, this was always going to be far too little far too late.

Iceland had a much healthier mix of Enneagram profiles and  played much more as a team from a position of ‘we have nothing to lose’. For Iceland, their admirable performance had, in part, to do with the natural drives of the individuals whose deepest motivations are naturally far better equipped to function as an international football team due to their more balanced mix of motivational profiles. In spite of their ‘underdog’ status, the combination of this line up of player profiles and their strategy of practising set pieces became their formula for success. The result – their dream was happily realised against this particular England side.

9/1’s are the most naturally self focussed of all of the profiles. They are the most competitive, they want to be the best and they want to win. This is perfect and ideal for individual sports but they are always going to find it more difficult functioning as part of a team on any field of play IF they are surrounded by people within the team with exactly the same internal drive and motivational filter (enneagram profile) as they have.

Allow me to explain.

From my experience, the only type of elite team that benefit from all 9/1 profiles within it are ones like that of the amazing Red Arrows. Their performance relies wholly on executing very risky set pieces and manoeuvres that are always performed with pin point accuracy. Perfect for 9/1’s who will happily train for thousands of hours to guarantee they achieve these incredibly high standards of consistency.

From what I have seen, rugby teams generally have a much healthier mix of profiles whereas many football teams often struggle with getting the winning team balance right. Maybe I should review the mix within last season’s Leicester City side and write another blog?

Anyway, if an England manager selects the best of the players from the Premiership then they should be the best in their position and the best within their Premier League team. BUT, for 9/1’s to realise their full potential they then need to be supported on the pitch by other profiles who have a natural drive to create an abundance of opportunities that allow 9/1’s to consistently shine. This then makes it more likely that the whole team are a force to be reckoned with on an international stage.

The Natural Superheroes reality is that even the healthiest of 9/1’s are not the most naturally creative of people – especially under pressure. Their strongest and most positive natural drive is for attacking and hitting targets under pressure when opportunities present themselves to them in the moment. To do this they need people around them who think creatively effortlessly under pressure and who have no internal resistance and no problem whatsoever in being a part of a ‘behind the scenes’ team (2/3’s and 6/7’s). They will then more happily create an abundance of opportunities that allow the strikers to truly shine and be the stars of the show.

An example of this perfectly balance mix of profiles is England’s World Cup winning rugby team.

In football terms, maybe more 2/3’s in defence, more 6/7’s in midfield and 9/1’s up front to strike, would be a healthier set up and mix of players for a football team?

If a manager’s only option is to choose a heavily weighted team of 9/1 profiles then they and the coaches must ensure they spend much, much more time practising a huge variety of set pieces and that within each piece give individual team members very specific objectives and tasks which are practiced over and over and over again. I cannot emphasise enough that this is much more important than for any other team profile. This is because there are lower levels of natural creativity and team effort present and therefore it has to be cultivated and embedded more consciously. For a manager, this, in reality, is very difficult to do as 9/1’s can be resistant to and resent such rigorous routine and rigidity. Because of this, training needs to be highly focussed and fun for them and never a chore.

In international competition, the lack of regular time available together as a unit can make this even more difficult to achieve. It is much easier for a manager to have a balanced team of profiles that bring together those natural qualities and energies required to deliver the strongest defensive, creative and attacking team performance – naturally.

Remember all profiles have their upsides and downsides. 9/1’s are driven at the deepest level to be the best and enjoy the process, they have far greater levels of focus and competitive drive available to them than other types and in individual sports this is easier for them to utilise because they can rely less on others during play itself.

England players will have other opportunities to shine and I wish them all well. My heart went out to Roy Hodgson – I really like him. A 2/3 himself he may have had all the ideas and the coaches may have given instructions for set play. But when stressed average 9/1’s can become unconsciously stubborn, self-centered and internally referenced – ‘wanting’ to be stars instead of ‘being part a winning team’. Subsequently they are not always then able to follow agreed team game plans or instructions under pressure. Then, unable then to put together set pieces on the field of play and follow an agreed plan of action, they ‘seem’ to outsiders to be trying to play an attacking game by going a lot for goal but nothing actually comes together as a team.

As a fellow 2/3 I understand the frustrations that can arise when teams do not work as one. The 2/3 gift is an ability to create and manage great teams but, without the detailed knowledge of the Enneagram and Natural Superheroes (or other deep not surface motivational profiling tools), maybe the only information a manager can base his/her decision on for selection is the recent performance of the individuals which, for elite team performance terms, isn’t always enough.

The make-up of drives within the England team are more important than having the best individual players. To win under pressure and have ongoing international success, England needs a combination of great players (not the best players) that naturally makes them the best team in the world.

And this is the same in any team – be it in sport, sales or business.

Individual sports like golf and tennis are very different on the field of play but world class individual sporting heroes know that off the field of play they rely on, and fully appreciate, having a balanced healthy high performing team behind them.

Natural Superheroes provide motivational profiling and offer personalised strategies that improve individual and team sales and professional sports performance.

If you would like to learn more about Natural Superheroes, Anne is available to deliver in-company workshops and undertake private consultations upon request. She happily works with professional sports and corporate sales teams. Please click here to email her for contact details or learn more about Natural Superheroes at one of the following forthcoming 3 hour insight events. Please click the links below for details:

Natural Superheroes Insights Event for Sales Directors – 17th November 2016, London
Natural Superheroes Insights Event for Professional Sports Managers and Coaches – 1st December 2016, London