Carlo Ancelotti- Quiet Leadership

I have recently finished reading the new book from legendary Italian football manager Carlo Ancelotti. Less of a straight autobiography, and more a guide to leadership, this is probably one of the best and most succint management books I have read.

When I was younger, I always enjoyed reading sporting autobiographies, firstly of cricketers and rugby players, and latterly footballers, cyclists and other athletes. As I’ve got older, I soon realised there’s many parallels between professional sportsmen/women and business. The mind of a Test Cricket Captain works in very similar ways to industry leaders, in terms of strategic thinking and vision, whilst the grit and determination of an elite rugby or football player, aligns with a business person whose skills and passion can elevate him to a position of leadership. Football Managers are in a position where much of their daily work is in fact not just the coaching and recruitment of players, but actually managing a business.

Of other management in football books, I have also read ‘Leading’ by Sir Alex Ferguson, and ‘The Manager’ by Mike Carson: both of which I can equally recommend as they offer different case studies of management and leadership in football, but which principles apply to all sports and business in general. The main reason for me that Ancelotti’s book stands out, is as well as being incredibly well written yet easy to understand, is that his “leadership style”, as the book title indicates, is Quiet. Or calm, measured. Every leader and manager has their own personalities/methods of course but my personal one I would say is closely aligned to this, so it resonates strongly.

The book’s chapters are” principles” of leadership, and are presented with Ancelotti’s thoughts and reasonings behind each of them; the chapter is then followed by the words of somebody else (an ex-player, fellow manager, former boss); and then concluded with summary points- my favourites are here:

Experience: 

  • Everything has a cycle
  • Respect is everything
  • Demonstrate trust through your talent

Culture:

  • Learn the language and local culture
  • Trust in order to delegate
  • Loyalty is to people, not organisations

Hierarchy:

  • Never be afraid to delegate
  • Don’t have favourites

Talent:

  • Speak to your talent (workers, staff, colleagues) as people most importantly
  • Recruit to your values and cultural fit
  • Your job is to not demotivate the talent

The Workplace:

  • Encourage staff to take ownership for the workplace environment
  • Encourage energisers and remove the energy sappers

Responsibility:

  • Soft power is the most effective. Dictatorships don’t last
  • Try not to get angry very often- only when culture or work ethic is violated

The Product:

  • Know your business
  • Don’t ignore the “foot soldiers”

Data:

  • Your most important analytical tools are your eyes and your brain
  • Clear communication is vital, especially to explain tough decisions

Growing:

  • Remember if somebody has given you the job (of leader) then they believe in you
  • In general people love the job they’re in- don’t kill that
  • You don’t have to be miserable to be serious

Values:

  • Switching off is important- find your sanctuary
  • “To thine own self be true”

It is with these simple sounding ideas that the “Quiet Leadership” style will be effective. So whether these are applied in a football stadium to 11 men in front of 80,000 people, or to a team of 20 in a busy restaurant or other organisation, the ideas stand true, and I will be taking these forward. And from meeting Mr Ancelotti very briefly when buying this book, I can see how this has been so successful in his career.

The Books

The Manager, Mike Carson

Leading, Sir Alex Ferguson

Quiet Leadership, Carlo Ancelotti

Ancelotti

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