DoctorGate Lessons for Leaders

The football season has just started and it’s already fizzing with controversy, following the saga of the dismissal from the bench of the Chelsea medical staff by Jose.

Of course, there is an huge bandwagon of people who have jumped to criticize him, and to the spectator it seems justified. The journalists, hawkish as they are – know that this will sell with the enraged public.

I come from a different perspective – a leadership one. And I have some sympathy with JM. He is often an easy target, because of his perceived over-confidence (the truth is, only his team and family will know how much of that image is accurate).

As a leader I know how easy it is to get carried away by your feelings in the heat of the moment. It was a frustrating game and a frustrating context – and it looks like he blew it with unacceptable words and decisions.

Here are some leadership observations worth thinking about:

Don’t react in public. Passion and self control should not be mutually exclusive in the leader’s character. They need to be cultivated in equal measure. Learn to keep the lid, until you can be personal. It’s a sign of strength and respect. It will allow room for explanations not just accusations. Cool down and have a private dialogue.

Don’t assume that the team has got it wrong. Leaders have chunky egos and they are easily bruised when things don’t go as planned. Make self-reflection/examination your first port of call. Be honest and vulnerable with yourself. Be ready to own and acknowledge your part in the loss and only then suggest changes in others. It’s what Jesus referred to as the straw and the beam principle.

Don’t be arrogant to stick with the bad reaction. Leaders are often instinctive and impetuous. It’s what sets them apart from others. Therefore they are more likely to err. Some prefer to deny their error to falsely consolidate their position, in an almost dictatorial stance. Others prefer a humble (and I would argue, much stronger) revision of events and acknowledgement of weakness. This is the better way to lead.

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