Great manager or lucky manager?

Posted by Lawrence Bond July 9, 2018

What makes a ‘great’ manager and how do they influence their team to achieve above average results?

I’m big enough to admit that I never thought that Gareth Southgate was the right appointment for England. I thought that he’d been given the job based on the F.A. feeling he’d be a ‘yes man’.

However, he’s proved all of us doubters completely wrong. How has he done that and how do you get such effort, buy-in and performance from your team?

At the point of writing this, England are in Semi-final ‘dreamland’ and Southgate has been a revelation. He has applied so many management tools that are 100% applicable to the world outside of sport. Whilst we’re all enjoying the ride, anyone with management responsibilities or aspirations, could do a lot worse than look at how he’s doing his role.

Aside from massively increasing waistcoat sales, Southgate has been decisive (with the theory being to get more decisions right than wrong!), single minded and highly engaging with all ‘stakeholders’, including the traditionally volatile press! Even his trademark waistcoat has a great story behind it, with this being a nod to his late, Royal-Marine Grandfather. The Sun have even launched a campaign for fans to wear waistcoats for the semi-final!

We all know that the press can make or break an England Manager. I’ve only seen them break people in this post though and it’s largely the manner in which Southgate has been portrayed in the news and social media that has lead to us normal fans warming to him….even before we reached the heady heights of the semi-finals.

This could be because he doesn’t care what the press say about him or maybe it’s the manner in which he’s made all players available and been so transparent and communicative about his plans. Has this lead to the players being even more bought-in?

Southgate singles out individuals for praise brilliantly, avoiding the obvious personnel e.g. ‘golden boot’ Kane (6 at the time of writing), or Trippier who everyone else is raving about. After the quarter-final game against Sweden, he mentioned several players by name who have hardly featured in the world cup competition. He talked about their contribution in training being the key to the team’s success on the pitch. He talked about his back-room team and others as being the reason that England are here.

He’s managing the youngest ever England squad. A team of millennials (sound familiar?) which in football terms, also includes huge egos. He’s done that in a manner that’s going to get the best results and not applying the same style you’d necessarily use to manage a different generation. Although it’s tactical, football’s not rocket science but Southgate’s inclusive man-management skills have made him a role model for team leaders wanting to build an over-achieving team, as opposed to a talented group of individuals.

Southgate has been the epitome of calm, sensible management and although you need luck on your side, the harder you work, the luckier you get. The penalty shootout proved that with every player being better prepared mentally and technically than we’ve seen at any other tournament. I definitely know that I could improve my back-room preparation for my team on occasion! Could you?

I love club football and haven’t always been as excited about the national team. That has changed this year and like the rest of England, I can’t wait to watch the semi-finals on Wednesday with my kids and friends.

Thank you Mr S and your entire ‘squad’ of front and back-office personnel for proving me wrong and making me realise along the way that I can learn and implement a few lessons.

Another benefit of the world cup – it’s briefly got my kids off of Fortnite!

  1. If anyone has tickets to the final….. It’s coming home!


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