Leading by example- the Ed Clancy way!

After another 5 years of dedication and sacrifice, it was whilst warming down after the first qualifying round at Tokyo 2020 when it dawned on our ambassador Ed Clancy, the most successful team pursuit rider in the history of the event that he had to make the most important decision of his glittering career. And what followed was the bravest and most selfless act in announcing his retirement from the sport. 

The news signalled the end of an era for British Team Pursuit. 

With seven world titles and three Olympic Golds to his name, Ed Clancy can certainly walk the walk. The elder statesman of the British team, with a career spanning 20 years, Ed has inspired generations of young cyclists.

The decision to withdraw from the team was by no means an easy one, but as Ed says:

“The difficult choice is usually the right one, and now is the right time to go.” 

As “Man 1” Ed was most definitely in a leadership position and good leadership takes strength of character, and a firm commitment to do the right thing. After that first qualifying round, Ed knew he wasn’t 100% fitness-wise so he made his decision on the knowledge that this was for the greater good of the team. He could have continued, said nothing and hoped for the best, but he owed his team more than that. Despite all the self-sacrifice and dedication in his quest for a fourth consecutive gold medal, Ed’s values shone through and he ultimately made a very difficult decision rather easily.

Talking to former teammate and Eurosport pundit Bradley Wiggins, Ed commented:

“There are younger and fresher guys out here, that I believe are going to step up and do a better job than me, so for them, I had to make the right decision.”

You see, good leaders push their teams forward with inspiration, they look at ways to maximise efficiency to achieve that all-important goal. Much like the event of Team Pursuit, it’s all about the dynamics, and those small changes that spark big influence. 

Ed believed his withdrawal gave the team the best possible chance of making it to the podium:

“Ultimately I want the rest of the lads to build on the hard work they have done over the past year and a half and give them the best possible chance of winning a medal. I will be supporting them all the way.”

Ed had clarity of mind, one of the most influential elements of leadership.

In any context not only in the sporting world, if your brain is filled with if’s, but’s and maybe’s this will affect how you sleep, how you eat, and ultimately how you perform’ 

At Pro-Noctis we believe a positive mindset is perhaps the biggest performance enhancer you can have, and the strength of clarity of mind, and a positive mindset is prevalent across the stories of great leaders.

Let’s take Alexander the Great, well history named him “Great” for a reason… enough said. He was probably the world’s first action hero, Alexander III of Macedon is a brilliant example of what can be achieved through clarity and fierce determination. Alexander led from the front, inspiring armies through his vision which won the commitment of his followers.

Next take Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, both transformative civil rights leaders, both with a vision, and deep-rooted clarity and commitment to create change,

And finally, let’s consider Stephen Hawking, a different leader, perhaps rather a pioneer, but someone who could embrace failure and whose positive mindset and clarity of what could be achieved, enabled him to inspire the world.

Regardless of your style of leadership, to be a successful leader you must have that clarity of cause, be able to show others how to extend and push for greatness and create solutions for the greater good of the team and ultimately, make the right decisions.

Don’t panic, I’m not suggesting we all retire and step aside, but rather that we take the time to reflect on our leadership vision, reconnect with our leadership strengths and renew our energy and inspiration.

Here at Pro-Noctis we understand it can be lonely at the top, who do leaders turn to for support? Who can they speak to for feedback? And with so much going on maintaining clarity may be difficult.

As such we have teamed up with Best Hopes Coaching and Consultancy to develop the Exducis Code, a retreat created especially to support executive leaders, an opportunity for you to test your thinking and learn from other leaders, and above all a time to focus and to prepare.


Pro Noctis are leadership and professional development specialists that provide a range of coursescoaching programmes and retreats designed to nurture resilience, maximise your productivity and effectiveness and optimise workplace leadership.