“Managers take too much credit when things go well and too much blame when they don’t.“ Brian Clough. 

 

The best place to read about leadership and management is not the business section but the sports pages. If you want to understand about performance, if you want to see how big data can be used, if you want to know what motivates teams, if you want see how an expert manages a hostile  media and a critical  public, if you want insights into the relationship between a manager and their board, if you want to learn how to live without job security or how quickly you can go from hero to zero you need look no further than the football field. If you seek insight into how to balance idealism with pragmatism or a hands off approach with attention to detail. If you want to identify what makes a successful manager then read the interviews that delve into the minds of Brian Clough, Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger or Jose Mourinho.

 

Learn how Liverpool sold their best player yet improved performance. How Arsenal balanced short term objectives against long term strategic aims. How Leicester a small club with modest resources out performed those with much bigger budgets. How Manchester United struggled with leadership succession. And then there is the lessons from those who are underperforming, at what point do you change the manager and what are the factors that enable some teams to bounce back whilst others continue to decline?

 

I wonder how many chief executives secretly emphasis with the career ups and downs of Sam  Allardyce , very good at getting smaller clubs to overachieve, keen to show what he could do given the resources of a big club, effective but criticised for his methods and style, eventually gets the really big post and no sooner does he feel he has made it , due recognition at last, than he is brought down by some incautious  off the record comments. 

 

Of course being a football manager in the Premier League is not the same as being a CEO or senior manager in a Local Authority or NHS trust but there are parallels and it’s fun making the comparisons especially as  football managers are far more willing to make revelling comments. 

 

 

Blair Mcpherson former director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk 

 

 

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