Tag Archives: culture

Learning from Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho about leadership development and succession

How do you replace the most successful football manager in your history if you are Manchester United?

If it was me my initial reaction would be to look at the successful coaches around who have a track record at winning trophies.

alex and joseInstead of talking trophies, the language coming about the appointment of David Moyes (who has won no trophies as Everton manager) as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor were phrases like:

“long term commitment”
“ability to develop young players”
“tactical acumen”
“delivering champions league football on a minimal budget”

Instead of looking for a star like Jose Mourinho, Man Utd have decided to recruit on values. They have chosen a manager whose values fit with the club and who can bring a high level of performance from a club with a miniscule transfer budget.

Recently in work we have been doing a lot of work on values, behaviour and culture. Inspired and reminded by Patrick Lencioni in The Advantage that in recruiting we should recruit for values as cultural fit is vital.  At this week’s Leadership Conference I was intrigued to notice how Bill Hybels has added ‘culture’ to his c list (of character, calling, competency and chemistry).

Jose Mourinho seemed an obvious choice for Man Utd in terms of his success and ability to deliver, however it was obvious that he wasn’t seen as a cultural fit, especially by Sir Bobby Charlton.

Which leads me on to something I’ve noticed while looking at both Sir Alex and Jose, also highlighted by a friend on twitter last week.

There is no doubting the track records of both managers in terms of trophies.

It is interesting however to look at their ability to develop others – and by this I mean other coaches. I acknowledge plenty of Ferguson’s former players have become coaches/managers.

How many of Sir Alex’s assistants or coaches have gone on to become successful coaches in their own right?

To my knowledge, none. Sir Alex is an old style manager/leader who appears to have a fairly autocratic style. He seems to choose people who will work under him but is not a developer.

Jose Mourinho is a different story. Three of his backroom staff during his first spell at Chelsea are now Premier League managers in their own right. And very competent top eight ones at that. Brendan Rogers at Liverpool, Steve Clarke at West Brom and of course Andre Villas Boas at Tottenham.

For me Mourinho models a different style of leadership that develops others. I have no doubt this is rooted in his experience of working under Bobby Robson at Sporting Lisbon and following him to Barcelona. Jose started at Sporting as an interpreter. Robson saw his obvious potential and invested in him, becoming a mentor. The culture of developing others that Jose experienced has also become something he now appears to espouse and model.

Two examples of leaders who get results. One who appears to develop and release those under him into their own leadership, one who very much keeps his position as the kingpin.

Most importantly a visible reminder in both cases of how values create culture and how those values are learned and then shared and multiplied.

What do you think? (Has my Chelsea supporting skewed my perspective?)

The Kite Runner

kite-runner2.jpgIn the last month I’ve read a pile of theology books, and been struggling through ‘Tender is the Night’ by F Scott Fitzgerald, which just hasn’t grabbed me. So when the Kite Runner arrived I thought I’d get stuck in. I deliberately avoided the film because I wanted to enjoy the book first. I’m glad a day getting the bus coincided with a night in as I drunk in every page of this phenomenal book. At times I was transported into another world, at times I was choked with emotion. This book has been like something amazing that I can’t quite think off right now – balm to my soul perhaps. If you haven’t read it – go get your hands on a copy, borrow mine – it will do you good. Its an amazing story exploring race and sectarianism, friendship, identity, betrayal, loyalty and redemption. It struck me once again of the power of the novel and how much better they are at exploring these real everyday broken people issues than a lot of the eh only fit for recycling so called ‘Christian’ books out there. Anyone seen the film?

poppies, flags and should churches celebrate Remembrance Sunday?

poppy.jpgNow from the outset I want to say I have the utmost respect for those who have sacrificed and put their lives on the line for their country. I get a lump in my throat watching the veterans of the First and Second World Wars and hearing their stories. It outrages me that those who do their country – or government’s bidding at great cost aren’t properly looked after. What i’m about to say is in no way about not valuing the sacrifices of those who have bravely laid down lives

I must confess i’m not a poppy wearer. I have a poppy application request sitting waiting on facebook poppy_card.jpgthat I haven’t done anything with yet and am not sure if I will. It does seem to be a bit of a political statement for many to ear a poppy or not, and it seems that on TV everyone is wearing one. Is that because its what they are supposed to do or because they choose to as individuals support the poppy appeal? To seen Juande Ramos – the new Spurs manager wearing one as a Spaniard seemed slightly bizarre. I’m not sure if Spain have poppies there. To be honest if I was to wear one it would probably be white poppy. It does seem as if in some circles its the done thing and not to do so is frowned upon. Obviously some people make it too much of a political issue.

My problem with Remembrance Sunday is that often to me it seems to forget about the millions of innocent lives also lost in conflict, and the lives of those on the other side. In remembering our fallen heroes do we also remember the thousands of Germans killed by the RAF’s firebombing of Dresden (labelled a war crime by some), or the thousands of Iraqis and Afghans who have died? Even those combatants from the ‘other side’ are people who have/had mothers, fathers, children, friends, siblings. I was struck when in Berlin that our tour guide emphasised the point that the Nazi were not superhuman monsters – but people like us who did commit evil acts. As we remember wars, there are heroic acts, but war in itself is brutal. Remembering or commemorating military battles in church also seems strange to me, and is something I am extremely uncomfortable with. In many protestant churches we don’t take any time to remember some of the great heroes and martyrs of the faith yet we remember those who gave their life in battles? It seems incongruous at the least. And how does it all square with being peacemakers, with loving enemies and some of the crazy things Jesus called us to? Is this something we really give thought to or is it just something that’s expected, that we always do, and aren’t willing to ask hard questions of?

Which brings me on to flags in church. Now it may be to do with the political sensibilities of living in Northern Ireland, but I don’t think there is any place for national flags to be flown or hung in churches. Think about it – what is the church? The church as a whole is the bride of Christ – God’s people – citizens primarily of heaven but seeking the good of the cities they live in here on earth. Surely for churches to fly national flags symbolises a national allegiance that goes against our allegiance as brothers and sisters of the worldwide church. For many flags are political symbols, and associating churches with political viewpoints is dangerous. For many a certain flag is a symbol of oppression. So to go to the church, where according to Paul, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection all who are in Christ are equal, that national identities are no longer important, and find that in fact those national identities are still there seems strange. Especially in a place like Northern Ireland. The church is supposed to transcend national, political, racial and cultural allegiances. When will we learn that our primary allegiance is to God and his kingdom, that we are part of his reconciling the world to himself, and simple things like political symbols in church are huge barriers to that reconciliation?

the soapbox – biting off more than he can chew with these thoughts in progress

apologies and confessions

Much like whynotsmile I must issue an apology regarding my previous post. The helpful people at my bank have now sorted out my problems. It now seems there were in fact no bandits thieving from my account. Some company has a sort code and account number only one digit different from mine and someone got a number wrong, thus the money left my account and not theirs. I am now able to breathe a sigh of relief regarding my banking security. I then did begin to (obviously as a result of living in a litigious blame culture) think “flip someone’s incompetence could have cost me a huge sum of money, what about my phone calls to the bank (a grand total of 3) and distress caused to me (here I was beginning to take on the vocabulary of the said blame culture and exaggerate something that gave me something to talk about but certainly didn’t lose me any sleep). When I took a step back and got some perspective – I realised that someone made a mistake, and here was me getting up on my high horse talking about incompetence and wanting to see what I could get out of the bank. I got my money back, which should have made me thankful enough that I had money to be taken out of my account. I make mistakes every day, and when I do its just a mistake, but when its other people its a flaw in their character, its a trait, its incompetence. I really can be an arrogant git. Much like my encounter with the police here I am again looking to make myself feel superior to someone else – who got one number wrong – big deal. I’ve been reading through the gsopels and realise that Jesus must have been so good to be around. Instead of shooting others down to make himself look important (well he certainly did remind some of the more arrogant of a few home truths) he saw where they were at, he saw things from their perspective and gave people dignity and lifted them up. It must have be so liberating. That’s what I want to be like, instead of someone so insecure at times I need to prove my worth by showing how superior I am to others when in reality i’m no different, constantly making mistake, and needing grace, the grace I maybe need to start demonstrating to others…

Halloween – the rise of the witches or just another marketing ploy?

One of my friends commented last night how Halloween is becoming a big deal. Now living in my world of blogs, books and coffee shops I hadn’t noticed much about Halloween other than the sound of fireworks. Maybe if I’d been looking around on the bus to and from work instead having my nose stuck in a book, eating up the chance for some uninterrupted reading time I’d have noticed. Now that he mentioned it I have noticed Halloween things hanging outside people’s doors much like holly wreaths at Christmas, and that most shops have a large Halloween section. Tesco even having ‘Halloween sweets’ – looking suspiciously similar to the ones they sell at Christmas. On checking my email I discovered double nectar points on Halloween and Christmas present ideas. Is Halloween becoming as big as Christmas? Do we need to fear the rise of the pagans? Perhaps its just one of the many results of living in a rapidly becoming post-Christian (with a small ‘c’) country and that’s something Christians need to deal with and not start waving placards about witches everywhere . I suspect if has less to do with the popularity of witchcraft and more to do with the idolatry of the dollar (sorry seemed to fit well there). It seems that Halloween is just another marketing opportunity to get people to consume and spend, something else to compete with the neighbours over their Halloween party, costumes and decorations. Then those Halloween products are swiftly repackaged and rebranded for consumermas. And we’re being sucked in…

Late Addition…
Father Ted - down with this sort of thingFamily services in church are the ones I sometimes try to avoid, but are usually pretty good. This morning was dealing with the whole subject of Halloween and was really good. In playing up the consumer line I may have inadvertently been suggesting that all the witchcraft stuff isn’t a big deal. It is. Halloween is not harmless fun on either the consumer or the spiritual level, and we must be creative in our response as early christians tried to be in positioning all Saints Day over the pagan Samhain festival. Enough wikipedia links. A thoughtful and positive Christian response to Halloween would be helpful. More than the ‘down with this sort of thing’ approach., whilst not being watery and assuming there is nothing sinister at play. A guy in church told us how his kids don’t do ‘trick or treating’ but do ‘give a treat’ and give treats to the houses they visit. I thought that was pretty creative. I’m happy to welcome them, a wispa will do fine…

Big Brother does it again..

I hadn’t realised we had another series on big brother until a few days after it started, and especially the last few days. As big brother becomes embroiled in another ‘racism row’ i have to admit to a large degree of cynicism. After the whole shilpa debacle is this simply big brother trying to redeem itself? I thought it was an experiment in social observation, although it appears to be becoming more like its orwellian inspiration and turning into social control. Obviously racism is wrong but this whole thing appears to be making a massive deal out of one comment. To throw someone out instead of warning them or talking to them about their behaviour and use of language is massively over-reacting. Apparently they weren’t concerned with her motives but in the offence caused to the viewing public. Rubbish. If they really cared about offending the viewing public they wouldn’t show half of what they do, and they certainly wouldn’t have let the ‘white bint’ comment made by another contestant go unchallenged. Big Brother stinks of hypocrisy and a crass attempt to raise the ratings which i certainly won’t be contributing to…

property – the new pornography or the new religion?

I’ve been reading David McWillliams book – ‘the Pope’s children‘ on the dramatic changes that have swept Ireland since the Pope last visited. Its fascinating stuff – particularly the baby boom 9 months after the Pope visited. JP the second obviously acted as some sort of weird aphrodisiac! McWilliams talks about property being the ‘new pornography’ and about how its impossible to have a conversation in Ireland without it turning to property prices at some point. He’s right. We’re obsessed. We even camp out to make sure we get the developments being released. Its all about getting onto the property ladder. While I do concede the good investment argument and all that there is something disturbing about it all. As a non property owner I frequently get bored during house chat – all very well if you can afford it, but spare a thought for the many people who can’t. Harshly put sometimes people who used to be interesting become boring when all they have to talk about are houses and furniture… Why are we so obsessed? I was at B&Q earlier getting a bbq and the place was bunged – some people go to church on Sundays, a lot of the rest go to B&Q. I can’t imagine what it will be like when ikea comes to Belfast. TV is coming down with home/garden improvement shows. In 21st century Ireland and Britain it seems as if people worship their houses. Many people put themselves in crazy debt to have the right furniture, patio or decking. Why? There’s nothing wrong with enjoying where we live but there is something disturbing going on. It seems as if people’s worth and security are wrapped up in their houses, in how their kitchen looks, in how big their fridge (with built in ice dispenser) or flat screen plasma TV is. We need to keep upgrading and updating to be happy. Were our grandparents generation miserable because they didn’t have all this stuff? Is there something here about the erosion of community? Where does our sense of security and self-worth fit into all this?

I’ve spent some time in Africa and South America and found that people who don’t have all this stuff, who don’t worship at the altar of consumerism seem to be able to be content, and indeed maybe have their priorities in a much better place… but then to make comments and ask some of these questions in this area isn’t terribly popular…

Are you busy?


Take a deep breath. There is a rant coming…

‘Are you busy?’ appears to be quickly replacing ‘how are you?’ as a commonplace greeting. I’ve been noticing it more and more over the last few months, its been annoying me but its taken me a while to figure it out. ‘So what?’ you may think, but what does it tell us about who we are? It seems to me that this seemingly innocuous question is a symptom of something much deeper. No longer are people interested in how I’m doing, what I may be thinking about, the questions I’m struggling with. Instead all they want to know is if I’m productive – am I justifying my place on the planet by doing stuff.
Well excuse me if I happen to feel that there is more to me than what I do – phew some of you who are aware of my coffee drinking, talking about God career might think. It seems to me its a sign that our worth is not found in the depth of our character as Martin Luther King dreamed of but instead in how much we are doing. To stop in the fast-paced world we live in is almost criminal. The pressure to keep going, to do more, to work longer, to earn more, to keep learning keeps getting greater. Now I’m an activist and I love doing stuff, but as I get older, the more I realise how much I need to stop and take time out, to allow myself to slow down, and remember that the world revolves around God and what he’s doing, not me. Time to think and read is so valuable, to follow the model of Jesus taking time out is more important than ever with the pace of life we live today. To ask each other how busy we are simply confounds this lie that our value lies in what we do, not the content of our character, not in following a God who rests when his work is done and who calls us to a balanced not a frantic life…

On a slight side issue, the whole greetings thing is interesting, and I realise I’m pretty guilty of this so its something I need to work on. When I was in Tanzania (not a phrase I’ve used for a long time!) one of the things that struck me was the amount of time people made for each other, how they valued each other, how when they stopped to ask how someone was, they meant it and waited until they had heard everything. Today we ask ‘how are you?’ and don’t even wait for an answer or expect a ‘fine’ or ‘grand’, and not for people to actually open up and share what’s really going on. We’re good at the niceties but how much do we really care?

How prepared are we to take the challenge of thinking about what we say when we ask people questions and meaning what we say?