José Mourinho vs Pep Guardiola: What Leadership Techniques Should You Adopt in Business?


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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are two of the world's most successful soccer managers - but they have very different philosophies on how to win. What can your business learn from them both?

Article 5 Minutes
José Mourinho vs Pep Guardiola: What Leadership Techniques Should You Adopt in Business?

Knowing what leadership approach to take to maximize the capabilities of your team can be difficult. Should you adopt a nurturing role, or is it better to be authoritarian and ensure noses to the grindstone?

Well, have you considered looking to the world of soccer management to help you work it out? After all, both sport and business rely on strong leaders at the helm of teams of individuals - and soccer has produced some legendary coaches whose techniques have gone down in sporting history as being instrumental in victory.

Here, we'll take a look at two particularly famous managers to examine how they have coached and how you could apply their skills in the business world: Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho.

Pep Guardiola

Having led decorated teams at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, Guardiola has shown he is capable of succeeding even when his players are used to very different styles of soccer. Here’s how:

1. He adapts to suit his people

Circumstances change, and Pep is aware that leadership techniques must alter accordingly. One of his biggest strengths is designing his strategies based on the qualities of his personnel, meaning he can manage his teams on a more emotional level. This subconsciously builds trust - and trust makes teams more likely to succeed.

"Once they trust you, you have the keys," Guardiola pointed out.

Translation to business: Know your people and their skills to make them work harder for you.

2. He takes inspiration from outside sport

Guardiola is famed for taking concepts from outside soccer and adapting them into his gameplay. For instance, he has studied European handball and rugby to learn more about moving the ball quickly to create space, while his long-time right-hand man Manuel Estiarte is a celebrated water polo player whom Pep credits as instrumental in Bayern Munich's 2013 UEFA Super Cup victory.

"I'm no innovator," Guardiola once said. "I'm an ideas thief."

Translation to business: Look to other industries for innovation and ideas that haven't been done in your own sector.

3. He's big on analysis

Thanks to improving technology in soccer, data analysis is increasingly being used in the top tiers - and nobody makes better use of it than Pep. He reportedly spends ten to 15 minutes after each game watching clips and correcting errors in the dressing room, helping players to see what they could do better going forward.

"The analysis is fundamental. When they see themselves play, with their own movements in front of their own face, then they learn far quicker," Guardiola has said.

Translation to business: Use data analysis to drive your success - but keep it brief and give teams clear takeaways.

José Mourinho

The self-styled “Special One” is famed for his swagger and sullenness that have divided opinion, but there's no denying his impressive results at the helm of clubs like Inter Milan, Chelsea and Real Madrid. Here's how his attitude has helped him work with the talent available to him.

1. He's a master motivator

Mourinho is renowned for ensuring his players give their all, but he doesn't always do this through praise. He famously once told Chelsea's Frank Lampard he needed to prove his greatness with trophies, while John Terry recalled being threatened (alongside Gary Cahill) with the prospect of being fired during one bad game.

Of course, players look back fondly on the supportive messages they received from him too, but many have freely admitted they were somewhat afraid of his wrath. His uber-confident media statements were another example of this, as they worked to subconsciously filter down to his team.

"He is a master motivator who unites us and makes us feel superior to the competition," John Terry once said.

Translation to business: Team leaders should not be afraid to be honest if staff aren’t meeting their expectations.

2. He knows his teams inside out

Another thing Mourinho is known for is connecting with every member of his team to ensure he knows them inside out and understands what drives them. Only by doing this can he change the mentality of players and mold them into what he wants. Importantly, this necessitates treating everyone as equals, no matter what their experience.

"What was important to him was how you performed," recalled Benfica's Diogo Luis.

Translation to business: Take the time necessary to really know your team and what makes them tick.

3. He has high standards

Jose sets extremely high standards for both himself and his teams, something he communicates whenever he takes over somewhere new. He leads by example in terms of the hours he puts in and expects players to conduct themselves in a similar way for the good of the team as a whole.

In providing a vivid picture of what he expects, Mourinho helps players go some way towards manifesting it - although it can marginalize those who don't believe in it.

"From here each practice, each game, each minute of your social life must center on the aim of being a champion," Mourinho told Chelsea upon his arrival.

Translation to business: Always communicate your goals to your team to ensure everyone is committed to pursuing them.

Perhaps taking inspiration from these most admired of managers could help you when it comes to coaching your own team to victory.

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