The Importance of Leadership

How important is leadership within an organization? Very. Unfortunately I have the distinguished honor of supporting Liverpool FC who have not won the Premier League for more years than I care to remember (not as bad as the Cubs but getting there). There have been many factors which have played into this. From not enough support from the backroom, wasteful spending and bad leadership from the owners and the manager of the Liverpool Team.

Manchester United supporters you might as well stop reading now, as I am going to start praising Jürgen Klopp. For those who do not follow English Premier League Soccer, Jürgen was recently hired as the new manager of a floundering Liverpool Team. From the very first game of his tenure Liverpool FC look like a different team from what we witnessed at the beginning of the year.

The previous manager had placed blame of the poor results on the players. When watching the game you could see that the players/team were not happy, and were playing some of the worst soccer a Liverpool Team has ever played. Pundits were starting to say this was the worst squad in the History of Liverpool. Below is a statement made by the manager which probably lost him the respect of many of his players:

"I think I have shown in the early stages of my management -- without being arrogant -- that with a talented group of players I can compete at the top end of the league," Brendan Rodgers

"I know how to manage top players. If you give me the tools, I'll do the work," he added

This quote I believe shows that Rogers was still a manager and had yet to become a leader.

A leader builds confidence and takes the bull by its horns. When hearing the quote above it would have not provided his players with the confidence they required to compete at the highest level. He was laying all the blame at the feet of his team, instead of taking ownership. The perception was that Rogers had lost faith in his players, so why would they still have faith in him their ‘leader’?!

Since then Liverpool have fired Rogers and replaced him with a leader. One of his first tasks was to build up his team’s confidence. He started this at his first conference.

“This is a great club with big potential, fast players, strong players, and good defenders. Everything is there. Four or five strikers you can work with when they are not injured, midfielders, and defenders are experienced and young, goalkeeper is really good.” –Jürgen Klopp

Which Leader would you prefer to work with? The one who blames his players, or the one who builds their confidence?

How the tides have turned. The pundits are now talking about Liverpool FC winning the league (my personal feeling is they are getting ahead of themselves), they are playing with a smile and extremely exciting soccer.

Jürgen has only been at the club for approximately 3 months, yet the changes and confidence in the players is immeasurable. Liverpool F.C finally have a Leader at the club. So what defines leadership?

Brendan was a Manager but unfortunately not a leader in 2015.

Here are some quotes from Brendan and Jürgen. Try and guess who said which.

"I am 'The Normal One'. I am a normal guy from the Black Forest. I was a very average player. I don't compare myself with these genius managers from the past."

“History is only the base for us. It’s not allowed that you take the history in your backpack. “Not always compared with other times. “Only state - this is a great team. Everything is there. Let’s try to start a new. This is the perfect moment.”

I am the same guy who nearly won us the league, but better. I think I have shown in the early stages of my management – without being arrogant – that with a talented group of players I can compete at the top end of the league.”

“I don’t compare myself with these genius managers in Liverpool’s history. “It’s cool that you are looking forward to these next years with me but it’s not my [concern]. ““I don’t think ‘I want to be a legend’ here.”

'I always say a squad is like a good meal. I'm not a great cook, but a good meal takes a wee bit of time. But also, to offer a good meal, you need good ingredients.' 

 'My biggest mentor is myself because I've had to study, so that's been my biggest influence”

 Leadership Characteristics

  • Be Humble
  • Build employees self-esteem and confidence
  • Make people feel important and want to do their job
  • Give direction and provide honest feedback
  • Take ownership and do not place blame (the buck starts and ends with you)
  • Have a positive attitude and be able inspire others
  • Have Confidence and empathy
  • Be committed
  • Want others to succeed, and are willing to put the time into their people

What it is not:

  • Giving orders
  • Taking the ‘Glory’
  • Being a Follower
  • Being a  yes man/ woman
  • Doing the same thing over and over because that is the way it’s always been done
  • Avoiding Conflict
  • Making everything about you
  • Putting people down
  • Passing the blame

Leadership is not about you, but the people who ultimately work for you. Leaders are able to transform teams/ staff, motivate them and are extremely knowledgeable in what they want to achieve. Be a Leader and not just a Manager.

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.Nelson Mandela

 (Answer: Jürgen, Jürgen, Brendan, Jürgen, Brendan, Brendan)

YNWA (You Never Walk Alone).