One Secret To Successful Management

The past few football seasons have been marked by uncharacteristically high turnover rates at the Manager position. In a world of wins and losses, to say that success is measured on results would be a gross understatement. Front offices expect nothing less than a winning season at the bare minimum – and if we’re honest, trophies.

This understanding isn’t a new revelation. Why then do we see the turnover rate so high in recent years? In the last two years, in the English Premiere League alone, there have been 16 teams that have had a managerial change at least once: Wolves, Sunderland, Reading, Southampton, QPR, Chelsea, Bolton, Blackburn, Tottenham, Norwich City, Swansea City, Liverpool, Villa, Fulham, West Ham, and West Bromwich Albion.

However, there are examples of managers that have been able to make homes for themselves at their respective clubs. But, the list is short. Only four EPL Clubs can claim managerial consistency for at least 4 years: Stoke City (Tony Pulis, 7), Everton (David Moyes, 12), Arsenal (Arsene Wenger, 16), and Manchester United (Sir Alex Ferguson, 26).

If we look at these four men and dig deeper to understand what makes them so successful as managers, we see some of the same characteristics of what makes a successful manager in business.  Those that are successful understand that it’s the people under them that facilitate their prosperity. A good leader can take any group of talent and get the very best product out of their efforts. The ability to make people want to work for you, and get them excited to come into work every morning is one of the most valuable skills as a people manager. This is the driver of that best possible product.

Sir Alex and Wenger have had the most success of these four men, but one might argue that the talent level to begin with has always been higher at these two clubs vs Stoke and Everton. That said, Sir Alex and Wenger’s achievements over their long tenures are undeniable. But perhaps the most impressive, given the starting point and what he’s been able to accomplish, is David Moyes at Everton.

In his 12 years as Manager at Everton, Moyes has led the team to 9 top 10 finishes in the EPL table, 3 of which were top 5, and his team currently sits in 6th in the table, just 4 points out of the top 4. Everton has one of the tightest budgets in the EPL, limiting the amount they can spend on bringing big name players to the Club, as the other successful teams do. Moyes has been able to sign key players like Mikel Arteta, Tim Howard, Tim Cahill, Marouane Fellaini, and Steven Pienaar for relatively low price tags. Moyes’ ability to get the results just mentioned without the likes of a Ronaldo, Fabregas, Torres, or any other big money player is a direct result of his skills as a people developer.

He has been able to successfully, and consistently, compete in the EPL with the big name teams that spend double in some cases on players. If you listen to player interviews about working with him and playing for him, the respect and love they have for Moyes rivals that of Sir Alex in many instances. That admiration and desire to please is what has made his teams so successful. A decent football brain behind the wheel didn’t hurt either.

The lesson to be learned is that success starts with your people. You can have the greatest strategy in the world, but without the team fighting for you and working on your behalf to carry it out, it means nothing. Genuinely invest in them and show that you care, and it will motivate them to want to make you succeed. And there is no better position to be in than that.

Reporting on the business side of the world's game.