A brief tale of two managers
Let’s take the happily evolving story of Alistair Cook, the current captain of the England men’s test side. A staggeringly successful opening batsman, perhaps less easy on the eye than with the statistician, it is hard to argue with his achievements. Given his success, his elevation to captaincy came as scant surprise, even if he had very little, if any, previous exposure to such a role. The result? A stubborn refusal to take risks, to do things differently, to take on board the ideas of others. So far, so predictable. Until today, that is. The team’s most recent series saw Cook innovate, take chances, seek the counsel of previous incumbents and to generally surprise. Hats off, then, to a manager with the confidence and backing to evolve.
A less uplifting tale involves one Jose Mourinho. Over the course of two spells with Chelsea and other stellar names in Porto, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, his career has known only success. However, just 16 games into the current season, Mr Mourinho finds himself with time on (and P45 in) his hands. Despite his natural savviness and intelligence, the dressing room he has just vacated has been increasingly characterised by rancour, player revolt, splits and divisions. The result? Chelsea at the wrong end of the table and Jose looking for a new employer.
For a role that can be so hugely influential, it is common for people to fall into management. Even today, people become managers largely because this represents the only identifiable means of rewarding people’s functional expertise and achievement. Let’s distract, seems to be the thought process, great digital professionals, talented marketers, inspirational HR specialists, even able left handed batsmen, by recognising their successes and asking them to do something for which they will have received little or no backing and preparation. And, in doing so, compromise the effectiveness of what has made them so successful in the first place.
This despite there being so much, in terms of productivity, tenure, discretionary effort, employee advocacy, output and team success, that can be squarely attributed to a manager and their impact.