Even those not interested in football will have heard about how Claudio Ranieri - - the affable, father like figure who is so softly spoken and loveable that you wonder how he still exists in the sleazy, corrupt world (case and point: FIFA) that is Football - who masterminded the most audacious heist since the City Bonds Robbery in May 1990 - when he took Leicester City from the mid/lower table doldrums to Premier League Champions in 2016 at odds of 5000-1 and into the latter stages of the Champions League.
Fast-forward 8 months; he was sacked after a poor run of form from a job without a chance to redeem himself. The players and his staff turned on him and he was hounded out of the very place he had put on the map to the rest of the footballing world. Every man and their dog jumped on the bandwagon, put down his achievements and basically credited everyone but him, as if he was some kind of silent figurehead. A truly sad state of affairs.
His Assistant Manager (Craig Shakespeare) took over as Manager and their Head of Recruitment (Steve Walsh) essentially got a promotion to a senior role at rival club Everton; star players Ngolo Kante got a dream switch to Chelsea and Jamie Vardy became a regular starter for England with Mahrez securing Player’s player of the Year.
Yet here we are – Oct 2017 - Craig Shakespeare is sacked, Steve Walsh’s miracle recruitment strategy has Everton languishing near the bottom of the Premier League and coveted players and no longer so desirable (Bar Kante) by European heavyweights. All the while, Ranieri has Nantes near the top of the French league (they were 7th and 14th in the last two seasons) – all signs point to the fact he is indeed a great manager who gets the best out of his average squad and is a fantastic tactician.
So what can the corporate world learn from this debacle. I have come across countless occasions where Senior Leaders are let go by their companies or allowed to leave without a fuss because they believe that really, the team that is behind them are doing the real superstar work and essentially making him/her look good.
These star performers who are making the big deals or big plays might go above the manager in question and tell some C-suite members that the manager isn’t pulling their weight and doesn’t offer much or that he’s lost the respect of the team – office politics at its best - with this persistent unrest and with senior figures keeping one eye on the bottom line, that manager who led the team to these great figures is given the same treatment as Claudio Ranieri. Any guess as to how that team is performing now?
Conversely and I will argue the other side, I have seen some very senior people literally climb the scales of greatness and in one instance to a Country Manager role (UK) for a FTSE 100 company mainly because he had a great team round him and when I say great I really do mean world class and he made sure they were always around him as he scaled up (even to the detriment of his team, bypassing them for other promotions for his own self gain), but as sources say, they were never really credited with any of the key decisions or input that made his star rise - he took, but worst off, was given, the credit for the innovation and results others had really achieved. (Pep Guardiola anyone? - Time will tell!).
This certain exec was moved to an international leadership role in the US HQ for the same FTSE 100 Company and was found out in the first 6 months that he really wasn’t the man they thought he was as he had no team behind him on a daily basis - His career never recovered.
So you are coming to the end of this blog post, thinking, what the hell is the point of this and this bit is really for my senior level audience (The Thai Owners in my analogy). Know your company, know your team, find out the nuts and bolts of the success (and the failures) and maybe you won’t let a superstar like Claudio Ranieri walk out the door. The only real way to know who is responsible for what; is to have your finger on the pulse. The bigger the company, the harder it is, but in doing so, the risk is mitigated and the rewards are great.
For my Claudio Ranieri's out there, the best leaders mould a team of various talents, get the best out of them and leads them to success through motivation, control, mutual trust and respect. If you manage to succeed in all these departments, you will make yourself indispensable. Claudio lost the support somewhere along the line and in a short space of time. The corporate world can be just as brutal but long lasting legacy's like Sir Alex are achievable through great management in the bad times and good management when the goings good.
For my ambitious mid level candidates (Jamie Vardy), don’t play games, keep doing whatever you do that makes you great and you’ll get rewarded and promoted; if you don’t, give me a call and we will find you a company that will value you. If you put a target on your bosses’ back, you will tarnish your own character and you might face a similar ending to Mr Shakespeare – Et tu brute?
N.B - Thanks for reading; I welcome any comments or differing opinions. They will all be treated with respect and replied to as soon as possible.