Marcelo Bielsa’s leadership made us love again …

If you are interested in leadership, and the impact leaders can have on organisations, then a great thing to observe is the world of professional football and the impact of the manager.

OK, I am biased, and still emotionally raw, so this won’t be the most objective piece of writing in the world, but hear me out.

Marcelo Bielsa was the manager of Leeds United for three-and-a-half years. His recent dismissal triggered unprecedented displays of anger and heartbreak for someone most of us have never met or even heard speak English, and all the more surprising considering that us Yorkshire folk are not exactly famous for our demonstrative approach to human emotions.

The point I want to make about his leadership isn’t the onfield success – the beautiful sparkling football and promotion to the Premier League – because other managers have achieved impressive sporting results too (as his critics never tire of reminding us). The point I want to make is how he transformed an organisation and connected emotionally with the club, the fans and the wider city on a level none of us have ever known before.

He transcended the function of his role (the football) and embodied values that were hopeful and pure, giving us something unique and more important to care about than a game with some goals in it. He was visionary without ever really mentioning a vision; he just lived it, with humilty and grace, and it captured our hearts.

How did he do it?

Continue reading “Marcelo Bielsa’s leadership made us love again …”

Equal treatment doesn’t always lead to equal outcomes

As a Leeds United fan, I was horrified to see a tweet by the club contributing to the online abuse directed at football pundit Karen Carney.

Carney had expressed the oft-repeated view that Leeds might not be able to keep going with their fast-paced game throughout the whole season.

She went on to opine that, in the previous season, the Covid-lockdown break had insulated the team from burnout by allowing them time to recharge their batteries and come back to the last ten games full of renewed vigour: “I actually think they got promoted because of Covid in terms of it giving them a bit of respite. I don’t know if they’d have got up if they didn’t have that break,” she said, with ex-Leeds striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink nodding along beside her.

Continue reading “Equal treatment doesn’t always lead to equal outcomes”