AFCON: Great Lessons From Football Leadership
I had planned to write on leadership lessons from the late General Murtala Muhammed who was assassinated 48 years ago. Tuesday this week is the anniversary of that sad memory...CONTINUE READING..
I had planned to write on leadership lessons from the late General Murtala Muhammed who was assassinated 48 years ago. Tuesday this week is the anniversary of that sad memory. I had wanted to remind our leaders in Nigeria who are beginning to blame their predecessors for their poor leadership after eight months in office that the great leader, Hurricane Murtala spent only six months in office and was able to achieve three significant things we can’t easily forget.
The three remarkable things include incredible creation of a brand new capital for the federation. He set up a powerful panel comprising all the experts and stakeholders to recommend a site. He accepted the panel’s report and proclaimed a new capital for the Federation where our present leaders are blaming opposition for leaking a document, which contained a whopping N1.8 billion worth of recommendation for a panel to discuss appropriate wage review details for public servants.
Yes, Murtala who also led the whole of Africa to proclaim to the powerful West that indeed “…Africa has come of age…” at an extra-ordinary session of the then OAU on Sunday, January 11, 1976 had in a broadcast to the nation on February 3, 1976 proclaimed Abuja as the Nigeria’s new capital. He legalised it and also proposed Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Lagos as regional capitals of some sort, he designated “Special Areas”, for strategic reasons.
I had wanted to deconstruct the leadership style of Murtala and recommend some lessons from his proactive strategy without which we might not have had one of Nigeria’s major achievements in history – building a new capital. We will return to this important beat and other details in honour of the iconic Murtala someday.
I hope we can take away something significant here for our leaders: that Murtala was in power for only six months and the panel he set up to recommend a new capital reportedly travelled to several capitals around the world including Camberra in Australia, Washington DC, United States, and they didn’t spend hundreds of millions, according to the late Dr. Akinola Aguda I interviewed for Abuja Newsday in 1989.
Now to the brass tacks today, leadership lessons from football (management). Some of our leaders are likely to be in Abidjan to watch the epic AFCON final between Nigeria and Ivory Coast today. This isn’t new. Most world leaders do that whenever their countries get to finals. The female leader of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic wore the team shirt and cheered her team at the 2018 World Cup final between Croatia and France in Moscow, Russia.
At the 2023 World Cup final in Doha, Emmanuel Macron was right there when France lost to Argentina. Macron was seen consoling Kylian Mbappe who was depressed by the loss to Argentina. And so as our leaders watch today’s final, let us also entertain them with some facts about sport and indeed football leadership, which will be useful to them.
First, our leaders should see the quality of stadia the sports leadership in another West African country has provided for the very successful competition that ends today. But much more than mere provisions of facilities for the beautiful game that normally unites our people behind our national team, there are more significant lessons that our leaders can borrow from football management model.
Why the lessons?
It seems to us from the fumbling and faltering we experience daily, that our leaders are just leading us by intuition; as their weak spirit leads them. Most of our leaders seem unprepared for leadership challenges as we are beginning to perceive again. They need some reflections and lessons on what leadership is all about: security and welfare of the people, which they can’t provide at the moment.
As I noted here in 2016, 2017 and 2022, I would like us to discuss again some points about business models that can affect governance and nation building in global context. Most of our political leaders may not know that they actually need to go to good business/management and leadership schools to manage their politics and development well. General knowledge is good, but with the way the world is witnessing some convergence between politics and business, it is important that leadership lessons and models that modern leaders need should include some modules in business and management schools.
It is sad that most of our leaders in Nigeria do not understand that we regard them as mere wasters. They gamble with the destiny of a great nation for four to eight years. They do not record significant achievements for eight years that most of them spend in office. They just take oath of office, enjoy themselves very well and just take a large portion of the state resources and go away in a culture of impunity where even anti-corruption managers too are corruptible and no institution to prosecute them.
And as soon as our dealers we call leaders leave office, the memories we have of them begin to fade away from even the week they leave office. That is why it is important to advise those who wish to seek public office next time that modern leaders need some empowerment called “dynamic capabilities” through proper education in business and political management. What is the nexus between business management education and success in politics? Here is the thing: good political leaders in modern governance system should begin to see people as customers to satisfy every day.
Leaders at all levels need to read the constitution contextually. For instance, the 1999 constitution, sections 130 (2) and 176 (2) actually provide that the president and governors are, and should be regarded as “chief executives” of the federation and states respectively. The services they should deliver, therefore, ought to be treated as if they were goods and services to be delivered to the customers called the people. As I was saying, so they should seek to treat service delivery as a brand whose equity should always be improved upon so that return on investment (ROI) to the owners will be tangible and robust.
The way most of our leaders see government money is something to be spent anyhow without accounting for it to the owners – the people. In this regard, there is an urgent need for curriculum reform in our local business and management schools to reflect realities of these times. Leaders of tertiary institutions and their regulators should note.
In this milieu, we still maintain Faculties of Business Administration and Public Administration instead of Business/Management School and Governance/Government School. These schools and faculties should be reformed and rebranded as leadership training institutions where would-be leaders should be trained on critical governance issues such as “Project Management”, Managing Finances/Management Accounting, Emotional Intelligence, Culture and Value Studies, Organisational and National Culture, etc.
In modern governance system, medical doctors who have got degrees in the science of medicine need to acquire science of management before setting up their businesses/health centres. There should, therefore, be many of them in management and business schools for science of management (of their clinics and hospitals). In modern times, management and leadership are taken very seriously beyond reading motivational speakers’ books that fill our bookstores and shops.
According to experts such as Margaret Weathley, to discover order in this chaotic world, we need to go back to school to discover case studies on “leadership and the new science”. The point here is that business owners all over the world headhunt chief executive officers who can manage their firms to make profits to shareholders. And these well paid CEOs work hard to make profit and if they don’t, they are fired. That is the way our leaders should think to make impact on the lives of the people that employ them.
My friends and colleagues at work know that I have been following Real Madrid so fanatically for about two decades now. I have just some interest in Barcelona because of the artistry of some of their icons such as Lionel Messi. But I follow Real Madrid in and out of seasons as a business model that is unique.
Which is why I have often used the two Spanish giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona as examples of how to invest and manage talent, which I have also quoted sources to say can be overrated using again, Messi and Ronaldo as a case study. The two icons made their name and impact at the Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Recall that in the first year anniversary of the Buhari administration, I had on May 28, 2016, written on this page an article titled, “Buhari: Anniversary
Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward #11 Rodrygo celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Granada FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on December 1, 2023. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)
Lessons from Real Madrid & Barcelona”.
I had then observed that in the last few years (about eight years) these two clubs have been producing the World Footballer of the Year (Ballon d’Or). Not only that, one of them, Real Madrid was then the richest (Manchester United had just then taken over), according to Forbes. Manchester United (England) was the third on the rich list in 2015.
Bayern Munich (Germany) was fourth while Arsenal (England) was the fifth. Let’s stop at the sixth, Manchester City. I had then discussed the enterprise spirit in the investors in Real Madrid and Barcelona within the context of strategic human resource management (SHRM) model that leaders could borrow from. I still maintain today that the two players of the two selected teams, Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo remain the discussion points every week after soccer competition. They remain the most frequently discussed in the world in soccer excellence, even in contextualising talent and training.
It is said that Messi now playing in the United States, is a raw talent while Ronaldo now making wave in Saudi Arabia is a reconstructed phenomenon through robust training. Now a former Barcelona manager, Pep Guardiola is turning Manchester City to another Barcelona in England. Only good world-class coaches are employed to maintain the brand equity of the top clubs that always produce excellent results.
This again is to draw the attention of our leaders at all levels to the point earlier made that you cannot rise above the quality of your team members or workforce. This is the model that a businessman called Perez Florentino, current President of Real Madrid has taught the world of business and leadership. The Spanish investor does not brook mediocrity in HR framework.
He believes that only the best players can win big for Real Madrid that has won European Champions League back to back, (three times) first in the modern era of the tournament. Real Madrid has the highest number of CL trophies in Europe. He believes that you cannot recruit mediocre footballers to win La Liga and Champions League.
Therefore, if you want to be a high-flying organisation, economy or ruling party or government, you have got to aim for the best brains that can deliver services to the people in the manner Real Madrid have been doing and Manchester City are beginning to do.
And this is the contextual issue here: The quality of your team should not be compromised on the altar of ethnicity and religion. Like Real Madrid, get the best anywhere to achieve results...CONTINUE READING..
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