HomeTalentTalent DevelopmentExclusive: Howard Webb’s guide to career success

Exclusive: Howard Webb’s guide to career success

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Former top flight referee Howard Webb has admitted he almost gave up “at least 10 times” after difficult matches.

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Former top flight referee Howard Webb has admitted he almost gave up “at least 10 times” after difficult matches.

He used his experiences to illustrate the importance of perseverance, self-belief and flexibility to achieve the best results and reach the top of a career.

“At least 10 times I’ve come home from games and thrown my kit bag in the corner and thought ‘That’s it I’m packing up I’ve had a difficult game, I’ve had some criticism, there’s easier things to do’,” he told the HR Directors Business Summit.

“And I’ve picked my bag back up each time and as I walked past that [European Cup] trophy I was so glad I’d picked my bag back up each time and not left it in the kitchen corner and never gone back for it. Because if I had done I would have been watching the game at home on TV, instead of achieving what I’d set out to achieve at the very outset.

“So amazing things really do happen to really ordinary people,” he added.

Download the full HRD Connect interview with Howard Webb


Speaking exclusively to HRD Connect after his keynote session, Webb further explained his approach to career development and identifying the right path.

“You need to have some flexibility in your career path – things can happen that you can’t foresee,” he said.

“You have to go in a general direction; have a long-term goal. My career was full of ups and downs if I look at where I started to where I am now, but there was a general line of progression towards where I wanted it to get to and you have to be resilient.”

Driving ambition

Webb noted that studies had found determination was a key personality trait to push high performing people forward.

“We did some research about high level sports performers and particularly high level referees, and the thing that came out of the research, the character trait that was across everybody who was successful was mental resilience more than anything else,” he continued.

“Getting back up after the knocks, understanding that mistakes do happen, they are simply part and parcel of life and that the only way you’ll never ever make another mistake is not do anything – and of course that’s not an option.
“So understand that mistakes happen, learn from mistakes, grow with them and persevere.”

He concluded: “Be flexible, be determined, be resilient and not everybody can make it to the ultimate goal, but everybody can fulfil their own potential provided they’ve got some passion and determination, drive and are supported by good people.”

Watch the exclusive HRD Connect video interview with Howard Webb


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