I can’t leave August 2023 without a backward glance at Sunday 20th, the day that our England women’s football team lost to Spain in the World Cup final.

In truth, even the convivial atmosphere of a Suffolk pub could not disguise the gulf in skill, speed, and strength between the sides but let’s not dwell on one tired-looking performance.

The sport has been enriched by the Spanish finally delivering to their potential. And, overall, a depleted, developing England gave us a tournament to remember, our hearts and minds captured by their unwavering pride and determination. Not necessarily the best players individually but collectively intoxicating.

Behind any group that exceeds expectations there typically stands a leader who is either special or lucky. Given Sarina Wiegman’s track record, she is the former. And, like many exceptional sporting supremos, she exhibits behaviours that draw from business and can therefore readily inform the wider workplace.

I don’t know if, like me, Sarina has been inspired by James Kerr’s excellent book Legacy. He summarised a study of New Zealand men’s rugby set-up, consistently one of the finest, into 15 lessons on “the business of life.”

Whether intentionally or not, there is a touch of the All Blacks in Wiegman’s attitude and approach to leadership. I can think of no higher praise and have particularly been struck by her bandwidth in executing such a demanding role.

Sarina is both steely and compassionate, disciplined and adaptable, pragmatic and creative, protective and liberating, serious and fun. She also understands the power of personal relationships in creating a culture that champions openness, trust, and shared purpose.

To this point, quoting from Legacy, for Sarina too “It is the identity of the team that matters…” How impressive is it to observe and enjoy a high-profile group who work so hard for each other, who sacrifice personal ambition for that of the squad, who by and large demonstrate character, responsibility, and authenticity. The Lionesses roar individually and together they buzz.

Wiegman’s greatest achievement, however, gold dust in sport, work, and real life, is to enable those she leads to perform well under pressure. Her leadership creates leaders. Her empowerment permits freedom. By contrast, consider our male rugby players; elite athletes who lack confidence and who are currently unable to exploit their talent at the highest level.

As an executive coach, too, I meet plenty of smart executives who struggle to summon their A game when the heat is on.

Sarina is under contract until after Euro2025. Talks are underway to extend her tenure at least beyond the next World Cup in 2027. Let’s not mess this up.

She is a world-class leader. And a fabulous role model. We need her legacy. She is the alpha Lioness.