Organizational leadership strategies from the soccer field applied to the business world
To truly understand the connection between sports and organizational leadership, take a moment to look at the life of soccer (known as football in Europe) star Ramon Vega.
Vega spent 13 years as a professional football player in Europe, being a defender for Tottenham Hotspurs in England and also playing for the Celtic team in Scotland. He later studied banking and management at the Zürich Business School. Today, he owns Vega Swiss Asset Management, which according to a profile in the Times of London has $1 billion of clients’ funds under advisory management.
On the International website for CNN, Vega credits the inspirational coaching ability of his previous coaches, Martin O’Neil, Christian Gross and Roy Hodgson, for his success in business.
“There are similarities between the two (football and business) as you always have pressure to perform,” he said. “On the football side this is something that you can really bring over into the business world as you are trained from a very young age to cope with major pressure.”
Vega went on to tell CNN that he believes those in business could learn a great deal from football if they were to analyze the methods and behavior of leading coaches.
Obviously, Harvard Business School (HBS) agrees since they wrote a case study about Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of the well-known Manchester United soccer team, which is one of the world’s biggest sports franchises.
Ferguson was invited to Harvard to discuss his leadership style with HBS students. Folafolu Folowosele, one of the HBS students who attended Ferguson’s lecture, said that hearing how Ferguson, “motivates his players, creates a culture around his team, and gets key influencers within his team to be the ones to drive that winning culture through … these are the lessons we can actually take in our business careers going forward.”
Here’s more on how Ferguson managed and motivated his players:
For those who want to learn more about organizational leadership, Mike Carson’s book, “The Manager: Inside the Minds of Football’s Leaders” includes interviews with top soccer coaches from around the world and their insights on leadership. In addition, Alex Ferguson: My autobiography has been called a “revealing, inspiring and entertaining autobiography of the greatest manager in the history of British soccer.” This book looks at his 27 years of managing Manchester United and captures the thrill of the sport plus his personal leadership style.