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:


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


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


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


  • 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


  • 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”


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


  • 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


  • 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



Officially on my summer holiday now, two weeks away. Of course I still have to give myself plenty to do so I’ve stocked up on some holiday reading- something foody, something businessy and something a bit lighter:

The Ten Food Commandments, Jay Rayner

Black Box Thinking, Matthew Syed

Merde in Europe, Stephen Clarke

Plus I have with me the very early stages of my hopeful business plan- going to be a productive couple of weeks!

‘Brewdog- Business for Punks’- a far from conventional business book

‘Business for Punks’ is written by James Watt, the co-founder of the Brewdog beer and brewery company.  I am a huge supporter and advocate of “small” entrepreneurial businesses, challenging the larger corporates and providing a product or service with a distinct point of difference. Brewdog is certainly one of these, and the approach they take to running their business is certainly novel, and different to any I have seen before!

Their philosophy is summed up in this great quote:

Don’t waste your time on bullshit business plans. Forget sales. Ignore advice. Put everything on the line for what you believe in.

Having done a hospitality/business degree for 4 years of my life, I saw what could probably be called the “proper” way of doing business. Financial models with strict rules, marketing classes with ‘rights and wrongs’, human resources management lectures with vast archives of academic literature and arguments, operational procedures from experienced practitioners. Now this was great, I loved it (my inner nerd coming out), and this was totally why I went to university. But with hindsight, and over two years since leaving the world of academia, it’s actually good to look at things from a completely alternative viewpoint. And ‘Business for Punks’ does exactly this. I don’t know how this would have gone down as an academic textbook, probably not too well, but the advice it gives is perfectly pitched for young fledgling businesses who want to do their own thing, their way, or indeed established companies who want a new look at how to run their organisation.

The book is structured as you might expect a traditional business book to be, but with off-piste sub-headings. For example:

Starting a business- “Don’t waste time on bulls*** business plans”; “Ignore advice”; “Get people to hate you”

Finance- “Cash is motherf*****g king”; “Make banks your bitch”; “The paradox of growth”

Marketing– “No budget, no problem”; “Fans, not customers”; “Give it away”

Building a team– “Interviews suck”; “Love at first sight”; “Ships need captains”

a few more.. “Steal and bastardise”; “Networking is for fools”; “Don’t follow trends”

See what I mean about an ‘alternative’ approach to business!? Now I don’t necessarily agree with every word inside, although the overall message of the book certainly resonates with me, and I think will with a lot of business people.

Fancy reading it yourself? Buy it online here. And have a nice cold craft beer in hand at the same time.