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SBD Global/September 17, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Former Manager Writes Running A Team Harder Than Running A Successful Business

Former Championship Leeds United Manager HOWARD WILKINSON "knows about pressure," according to Andrew Hill of the FINANCIAL TIMES. He said, “No offence to captains of industry but even a FTSE 100 chairman can postpone a board meeting. A manager can’t postpone a football match and every match is a shareholder meeting, [sometimes] in front of 88,000 people." It underlines what plenty of corporate execs -- dazzled by insights imparted by their sporting idols -- "tend to forget." Leading a business "is not like leading a sports team." In fact, "it is much harder." Wilkinson "was speaking at the launch of The Manager, a book of management insights from top football coaches" such as Chelsea’s JOSÉ MOURINHO. In England, professional managers "last on average 16 months." More than half "never get a second chance." But there "is a purity and focus to the football manager’s role that is rare in business." Few jobs "are (literally) as goal-oriented, as bounded by rules and as divorced from the profit motive." More interesting "is where the roles differ." Is leading "a sports team really as complicated as consultants and academics believe?" Football managers themselves "often come back to the simplicity of the win-lose-or-draw outcomes of matches against single opponents." Football managers’ "plans are more tactical and are tied more closely to the next short-term challenge." Arsenal Manager ARSÉNE WENGER told consultant MIKE CARSON how hard it is to "sack 14 people every Friday morning [when he selects a team for the weekend] and then re-employ them on a Monday" (FT, 9/16).
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