We like a sporting comparison at Healthy Toolkit HQ. In fact we can learn much, particularly in the leadership of wellbeing in our schools, from sports leadership and sports psychology.
José Mourinho, like Marmite, isn’t to everyone’s taste. His undoubted charm and tactical brilliance can be offset against his self-acknowledged arrogance and somewhat fractious relationship with club chairmen, directors and players.
“We have top players and, sorry if I’m arrogant, we have a top manager”, he announced on joining Chelsea for the first time, before adding, “Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one.”
Football managers are of course employed with the anticipation that they will coach winning sides, hopefully with trophies to match. A league champion eight times in four countries, Champions League winner twice and fifteen other trophies show he is no slouch. Large amounts of money to fund the purchase of quality players at Chelsea, Internazionale, Real Madrid and Manchester United probably helped too. Whether he would have produced the same results at more financially prudent clubs remains a rhetorical question.
Ultimately though did his arrogance, people management skills and sometimes confrontational style cost him his current role? It is suggested that, during a poor start to the current campaign, with players of the quality of Paul Pogba, a World Cup winner six months ago, plus a further ten players costing £400 million, he ‘lost the dressing room’. ‘Losing the dressing room’ means losing respect from your playing staff. A week before Christmas, he was on his way.
Enter the baby-faced assassin, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, in an interim or caretaker role. Same players, new boss; form transformed overnight. Dismiss the ‘easy sides’ comments, these same players, dispirited a few weeks ago, have won eight games in succession, playing with the flair and confidence that fans of the Red Devils hold dear. Of course the winning run will end at some point but it cannot be dismissed that here are a group of happier players.
The link with school wellbeing? Well, replace ‘lost the dressing room’ with ‘lost the staffroom’ and then the link is less tenuous. Here at Healthy Toolkit HQ we often hear of wellbeing not being a priority, of lip service paid to it or of leadership behaviours which marginalise staff or raise their workload. It is these leaders that may ‘lose the staffroom’ and the trust of their staff to look after their mental and physical wellbeing in school.
The situation at Manchester United this season was about relationships between the manager and his players. Wellbeing is equally about the relationship between school leaders and their staff. Be more like Ole and less like José and the relationships are more likely to thrive.
In May 2019 Healthy Toolkit will be in print: our co-founder Andrew Cowley has written The Wellbeing Toolkit which can be pre-ordered here and in discussing the leadership of wellbeing, there are links to sports psychology and leadership, as well as to effective leadership of wellbeing, unpicking the myths around the subject and challenging leaders to make their workload and wellbeing decisions based on principles and values rather than be reactive.
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