Leadership – is it a tactical blunder to be popular?


Disclosure: I am neither a Spurs nor West Brom supporter.


Today the Football Association (FA) announced that it is about to start talks with Roy Hodgson – the manager of West Bromwich Albion – to become the next England manager.  This flies in the face of the Peoples’ popular choice of Harry Rednapp – the manager of Tottenham Hotspurs.  It had been assumed that Harry was a ‘shoo-in’.

On paper Harry is known as a people person – a manager who develops individuals into a team – and the success of his approach can certainly be seen in Spurs strong performance during the last couple of seasons.

Roy, however is known to be a superb tactician – a manager who knows how to develop a game plan and execute it.  He also has considerable international experience.

So the question now arises “who would be the better choice to lead England to consistent international football success?” 

Let’s examine the implications of Harry versus Roy, and apply it to business leadership.


The Popular approach

Having the support of the country behind the national football team is certainly important, and can make a significant difference to the attitude of the players on the field and their commitment to give 100% effort and determination on the pitch in the face of adversity.

Similarly in business, when a leader is charismatic and a superb and passionate communicator, then this can have a significant impact on catalysing the organisation into giving 100% effort and determination to succeed in a difficult and challenging business environment.

However, a football team is only as good as their last match.  If England fail to win then very quickly the support will evaporate and the “blame game” will begin as the Public start speculating on, and debating, the reasons for the team’s poor performance.

Likewise in business, if employees don’t see a positive change in the company’s performance occurring quickly, then soon rumours start sprouting around the water-fountain and the leadership is blamed for the company’s poor performance.


The Pragmatic approach

Being a superb tactician and creating a football team using the strengths of your players to develop a team that compliments each player so that the “whole product is greater than the sum of the parts” is more likely to achieve consistently good results, in my humble opinion, and will therefore galvanise the support of the country.

Similarly in business, the leader who builds a strong team of senior executives who compliment his / her skills and experience, and who can develop and communicate the corporate vision, mission and strategic business goals, is more likely to galvanise his / her workforce to achieve consistently good results, thereby increasing commitment, improving moral and retention, to help the business grow and strengthen.



So in conclusion, the first priority for leadership is to be pragmatic rather than popular, and develop a good strategy for your team to succeed, then communicate it well and lead from the front, in order for you to have the best chance to win!

Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing and we will only know if the Football Association has made the right choice in appointing Roy Hodgson as England manager by the results experienced on the pitch.  C’Mon England!!!