Ah! The football season! Don’t you just love it? Frankly, I scarcely ever
watch it, but I have to be careful: I nearly said ‘never watch it’, but I did
manage to tune in to watching a couple of England’s magic moments in this
World Cup. Naturally, I was duly bored and exasperated in equal measure.
What is it about the beautiful game that makes grown men, and some women,
seem to think that the normal rules of management and leadership don’t apply?
How is it that the FA – pre-eminently – never seem to learn from any mistake?
Equally, apart from being caught with pants down, that nothing seems to qualify
them for root and branch dismissal?
They all care – certainly – care enough never to learn anything … except …
splash! Let’s throw money at that. Let’s get a big name. Let’s throw the dice
and back all on one winner. If lives were actually at stake it would be truly
We have many aspects of this we could comment on, but let’s just take one:
the choice of the England
manager (or is it coach – it never seems clear to me?). First question; does
paying somebody 5 or it 6 million pounds a year increase the likelihood that we
will get the best – by which we mean most effective – manager? No. Evidence?
The banks – the highest paid members of our society were CEOs of banks, and
they hardly knew what they were doing, and certainly never understood risk.
What you get when you pay too much money are managers whose primary
pre-occupation is earning too much money.
Further, academic research also demonstrates that paying people shed loads
of money does not improve performance: see Dan Pink’s book, Drive: the
surprising truth about what motivates us.
And yet further still, let’s be clear: whose bright and ongoing idea is it
to appoint foreigners to the England
manager’s job, and especially an Italian? I mean, I love Italians – the food,
the culture, the passion – yes, the passion – for all things Italian! Hmm, what
happens when England faces Italy? Does
Coke appoint staff from Pepsi? In this case, appointing someone who doesn’t
even speak English and even now is hardly coherent, is … I thought
communication was the number one skill of managers and leaders?
At root the crisis is deeper: take off the millions from Fabio’s salary and
leave him just £1M a year – that gives us either £4 or 5M a year to play with.
What if that were invested in seriously developing leadership capability in
British managers? There are Brian Cloughs all over the UK, but less
opportunities for them to surface these days because the big finance has shut
down opportunities for smaller clubs. Investing in our own talent for the long
term would be the smart move.
But will ‘they’? I guess the two shameful draws of recent times won’t be
enough to stir leadership qualities at the FA.