What Can HR Learn From Football Management?

8th June 2012

We read an interesting piece on Personnel Today this week about how styles of football management are applicable in the workplace. Which manager do you believe you are most like? We have summarised the article below.

Top football managers work at the very highest level under a great deal of pressure, and they wrangle performances from a variety of strong and sometimes difficult personalities. Now a company called Results International has taken a closer look at the management styles within top-flight football and identified ten approaches: delegator, autocratic, relationship, cognitive, collaborative, shadow, co-achievement, results-focused, transactional, and high-flex. While most HR professionals preferred the co-achievement followed by the relationship style, Nigel Wood, an occupational psychologist, acknowledges that in a few industries, even the autocratic style might have its place.

Alex Ferguson of Manchester United typifies the autocratic style, one in which the manager has "a high level of power over the team." In the relationship style, the "encouragement and enthusiasm" of a manager like Ian Holloway at Blackpool motivates the players. Arsene Wenger's cognitive approach employs logic, while the collaborative Roy Hodgson encourages the team to participate in high-level decision-making. At Paris St Germain, Carlo Ancelotti uses the shadow style to empower players to make their own correct decisions. Co-achievement combines elements of the collaborative and shadow approaches to similarly steer players in the right direction. No-nonsense Sam Allardyce at West Ham exemplifies a results-focused management, which focuses far less on the means than the goal at the end. At Roberto Mancini's Manchester City, the transactional approach ensures that performance is carefully measured and rewarded. The high-flex style of David Moyes at Everton is all about adaptation, shifting as the situation requires it.

With these categories in mind, professionals involved in recruitment for management careers can look at the needs of both the companies and the style of management candidates, and aim for filling jobs with the best matches.

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