Inspired by some of the Zaadz business book summaries, I've been thinking about the management style of Frank Rijkaard, one of football's best trainers. I have to imagine that these skills would be just as effective in the office as they are on the pitch.
1. Don't force a system.
Although fitting the mold of other offensive-minded Dutch trainers, Frank Rijkaard does not enforce a specific playing system. Rijkaard is liberal with his players, allowing them to move around the pitch and find their natural style of play. Compare Ronaldhino's freedom under Rijkaard to Van Gaal's problems trying to fit Rivaldo into a scheme. With players more free to play in a way that feels natural, the team ultimately functions more cohesively. Although these schemes have been effective for teams like Chelsea and Juventus, Rijkaard's style has helped veterans feel comfortable and young stars emerge. Additionally, there is no risk of the "system breaking down" and no grumbling from players who feel they don't "fit in with it".
Managers - Are you pushing business philosophies? Are you trying to impose rigid rules and procedures onto your team that inhibit their performance? Are you changing processes that work, even though these processes may seem unorganized?
2. Don't sweat when things aren't going well.
When things aren't going well, Rijkaard usually plays down problems and rarely makes unnecessary changes. During recent goal draughts and after the Copa de Rey eliminations, Rijkaard did not speak badly of the team or attempt to change too many things. After the first 0-0 match against Benfica, Rijkaard said: "I don't get angry at my players - an angy trainer is really angy at himself. I view myself as an advisor, helping my players out." Rijkaard is famous for appearing calm and stoic on the sidelines, rarely getting wrapped up in games or media controversy. While it's tempting claim that's his demeanor, bear in mind that this is the same guy that stormed off the field, vowing never to play again under Johan Cruijff, and the same guy that spat repeatedly on Rudi Voller during the 1990 World Cup. Clearly, Rijkaard recognizes the benefits of this demeanor as a manager. On the other side the coin, Rijkaard rarely messes with games that are going well. He generally makes less substitutions even in intense, tiring games such as the recent matches against Chelsea.
Managers - How do you respond when your team isn't meeting objectives? If you are criticized from above, do you pass that on?
3. Different relation with diffent employees.
Compare the paternal hug of Messi, to the strategic discussions with Deco, to the happy face seeing veteran Xavi back at training. Rijkaard has said: "If you are working with players of a higher quality, the more passionate you get as a coach, the less credibility you get. Sometimes you have to find other things to motivate your players, and often these are small things. With the talents we have, always speaking passionately wont work. Many times I pay more attention to players who aren't playing because they are important in the dressing room. The key to success is to keep on working, and to have the right team spirit by treating everyone as an individual."
Managers - Do you have different relationships with your team or do you treat them all the same way? Can you think of employees that need different kinds of affirmation and encouragement?
4. A positive attitude is infectious.
Ronaldinho says that at Camp Nou, he feels like he's "playing in his backyard". Eto'o, unphased by larger offers from other teams, has said, "wow, think of how many books that could buy for children in Africa." Why is everyone so happy at Barca? While, obviously, every enjoys winning, stars rarely complain like they do in other successful teams. This attitude certainly comes in no small part from Rijkaard's low key style, equal focus on all players, and acknowledgement of positive contributions. Players who didn't completely fit in other places - Ronaldinho at PSG, Deco in Portugal - seem at ease in Barcelona. This positive attitude even spills over to players who might feel "shafted". Despite the fact that Maxi Lopez, the excellent Argentine forward, has hardly played this season, he still says that he would still rather stay and prove himself than leave. Larson, who will be leaving at the end of the season to go back to Sweden, is widely assumed to be happy coming off the bench. However, rumor has it, he's not content with this supplemental role, but doesn't make negative comments.
Managers - How do you think your demeanor affects your team? Think of some bosses you've had with positive attitudes. And some with negative attitudes.