Good managers cultivate young stars

Muzi Kuzwayo
Muzi Kuzwayo

Cristiano Ronaldo proved it and so did Lionel Messi – two players who Sir Alex Ferguson referred to as world-class players.

“In my book,” the iconic football manager wrote in Leading, “there are only two world-class players playing today – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.”

However, the two greatest players of our time couldn’t carry their respective teams to victory in the World Cup in Russia.

Even after Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to save his team against Spain, the feat couldn’t be repeated.

This proves that, where a team is involved, the focus should be on building a strong team and not trying to build it around a lone star.

Building the team and making sure that it works is the manager’s real job. A good leader understands that his control has limits.

In football, once the referee has blown the kickoff whistle, the coach has no more control – it is left to the players to execute the strategy and the tactics. Winning now depends on their judgement as they trap every ball, kick it, bend it, loop it, head it.

The same is true in the office. The manager cannot be present at every customer meeting, production process or the other activities that the business is involved in. So the manager must employ people whose judgement he can trust when they are left alone.

Trust without training is the beginning of self-inflicted tribulations. So, as the team manager, make time to properly train your staff so that they can deal with the aggravations of work, and seize new opportunities when they are identified.

The lone star is stingy with opportunities, fearing that he may be eclipsed by new stars, and so would rather see the team be relegated than lose his sheen.

Self-starters are the best people to employ, but they also need other qualities, such as courage and the ability to collaborate with others.

You need people who have character and who keep their promises. When someone says they will deliver something to a client, you should never have to follow up on his or her promise.

Your big job as the team manager is to set the vision, but the daily job is to make sure that the team works together to deliver the objectives of the organisation.

This means looking after their welfare and inspiring them to produce what is necessary to the best of their ability.

There are undesirable parts to the job, such as occasionally pruning the team and making sure that it changes to suit the changing times.

It is the nature of work – bosses will always see a lot more when they are sitting on the sidelines. It has become normal for soccer coaches to jump with excitement like players and fans do when a goal is scored.

They have lost the demands of their position – to remain emotionless during the “proceedings”, as it were.

In the business arena, so many bosses become emotionally involved and, in so doing, they become excited by activity and completely miss the big task at hand.

Good football teams are honest with each other during the half-time break. Often, adrenaline is pumping, time is limited and this is no place for massaging egos.

The coach could favour a certain player, but, at half-time, if that player isn’t performing, his team-mates will tell him so. It is the duty of the manager to create an environment where openness thrives. The most successful managers are those who are able to cultivate younger managers, because that means the company will last forever.

* Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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