Pochettino is out…

Mourinho is in. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, bear with me.

It’s been big news in the sports world that Tottenham Hotspur let go of their manager before the end of his contract, instead choosing to hire ex-manager of rival London club Chelsea, José Mourinho. And no don’t worry, this blog isn’t going to ramble on about football.

During an interview last week Mourinho was quoted saying that when he joins a club he “wears the tracksuit, [he] wears the pyjama…until they become one”. This stuck with me throughout the day, as what I think he was talking about here is workplace identity and culture, particularly for leadership, and that’s something I’m sure resonates for many. If my last permanent Authority, where I stayed for over 8 years, had pyjamas emblazoned with their logo I would put serious money on most people assuming I owned at least three pairs.

As someone who has chosen to spend some time in the trenches of locum leadership, Mourinho’s quote led me to reflect on my identity as a leader, and how I sync with the culture and workforce in each Authority I join, or how my behaviour can change these. We all know that sometimes a team’s working culture is not what we would want, but to change this do you need to understand the team identity, or just the people? How much of that identity do you take on to effect change?

Personally, I have found that taking my own ‘brand’ of leadership, and being confident but not arrogant about my strengths and expectations has served me in good stead with those I work alongside, work for and work in support of. I have had some great feedback to let me know when I am doing the right thing, and also to give me a heads up when I need to try something different. My driving function is to be open, be clear, be an exemplar of the standards I expect, and ultimately understand that everyone is human.

If Mourinho were reading this blog right now, my top tips for him in making his mark and helping Spurs to ‘Outstanding’ would be:

1.    Set goals. Be clear from the outset what you want the team achieve, and why.

2.    Spend time on the frontline with your team, and the key players who work alongside to support their function. Know your stake holders. Understand the barriers and challenges so you can support and make changes to move or reduce them.

3.    Hold people to account, but also share praise when its earned. Show consistency and use conversation to explore where things could be done in a more effective/safer way. Say well done when people get there.

4.    Be consistent. Whatever your leadership style, make sure that people know who you are, where to find you, and can be confident in the type of response you will give them. This is especially key when your team is on a journey of improvement and what they are bringing to you is not always the positive stuff.

5.    Be the leader you wish you’d had. Or maybe were lucky enough to have and learn from. We all want the best results, but we are all human and none of us gets it right all of the time. Use what has worked well in the past and build on it. But overall, be genuine. People can spot a fake from the halfway line, and people need to trust and believe in you as much as you trust and believe in them. Or you’re all going nowhere.

As Mourinho says himself “it is about the respect that people have for you because you are a good professional and a good person.”

So good luck José! Taking over halfway through the season is never easy, but I shall watch with interest as to how you shape the team going forward. If anyone out there has pyjamas bearing the logo of their company I’d love to know. I might even wear a pair. Just not if they’re Spurs (sorry fans!).

By Nicole Mills, Service Manager