Boardroom or changing room: fitting company philosophy is key

Written by
Tom Ritchie

24 Aug 2016

24 Aug 2016 • by Tom Ritchie

After 10 years, 266 appearances and five major honours at Manchester City, it would appear that Joe Hart’s fractious relationship with superstar manager Pep Guardiola will force the goalkeeper out of the club.

Much is made of Guardiola’s philosophy; a high energy, pressing style in defence that demands dominating levels of possession in attack. He also expects unflinching professionalism and peak levels of fitness. 

One crucial element of Pep’s vision is a keeper with good distribution, a trait that the increasingly error-prone Hart lacks. 

Football’s history is littered with stellar names falling by the wayside following a big managerial appointment. Pep’s made a habit of it; most famously casting off Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldinho for his playboy lifestyle after taking over at Barcelona in 2008. 

The importance of culture is obviously applicable to the workplace; be it a small start-up or a giant of commerce, a direction and value system is prevalent in the vast majority of offices. In the words of Mark Zuckerberg, “having a clear direction on what you are trying to do and bringing in great people who can execute the stuff – then you can do pretty well.”

But how important is a manager’s philosophy to a club that is striving to become a mainstay at the very top of the global game? 

Pete Lowe, former head of development at City, and now leadership consultant and director at First Team Ltd said: “Club philosophy is critical. It brings clarity to an organisation’s vision and its beliefs. A philosophy is ultimately greater than any individuals within it. It’s important that team members buy into the culture and vision.”

Much like company culture, a player’s willingness to engage in the key tenets and values of a philosophy is paramount to the cohesiveness of a team unit. A disengaged player or employee needs to be given a chance to buy in to the culture. 

Lowe commented: “Integrity is paramount when dealing with any inconsistencies with philosophy. A player or employee has the right to be made aware that he or she is out of synch and then be given the opportunity to change. That said, other factors are at play, as offering time to change comes down to a leader's judgement call when the clock is ticking and there's pressure to perform.” 

Change can have a residual effect. Alliances within the office or changing room can be formed, with peers potentially taking a stand if the matter is not dealt with in the right way.

Lowe added: “Whether it’s a training room or a boardroom, friendships and alliances are formed and these can have incredible sway. Often it’s not what happens that’s critical, but how it handled as this sets a precedent.” 

The wold of football is a volatile one. The financial stakes are high, but the emotional stakes can be even higher. When a player leaves it can fracture a changing room beyond repair. While we may not be able to relate to that, we all know the pain of working with a colleague that doesn’t quite buy-in.