Will Cristiano Ronaldo lead Manchester United to success?
Sadly, this article won’t be all about football and Instagram’s most followed person…. I want to discuss the importance of a good leader and what they can do for a business.
Twitter’s trending topics this last week have all included Manchester United’s former number 7 Cristiano Ronaldo going back to the club many people would argue made him the great player he is today. Players, pundits and fans alike have all joined in arms to sing their excitement and praise at the prospect of his return and what it will do for the teams future.
The key theme throughout all these conversations is of course his talent on the pitch but also his leadership skills and motivation on the field and in the dressing room and it got me thinking about just how powerful an authentic leader is.
But what is an authentic leader? While different theorists have different slants on the concept, most agree that authentic leaders build authentic relationships and inspire trust and motivation in their employees. They are self-actualised individuals who are aware of their strengths, they show their real selves and they are open about their limitations, and emotions and they have a growth mindset around self-improvement.
A leader doesn’t have to be a Manager or an Owner within a business but someone who can pave the way and demonstrate ‘what ‘good looks like’. As morale among many organisations over the last 18 months has taken a hit, hiring, or identifying a leader within your organisation could be exactly what you need to help get everyone back on track. Not only that but they help drive the business forward.
So, what makes a good leader?
Someone who can help implement the business’s vision and values.
Most organisations are built on values and have a vision of where they would like to be in the future, how they want to grow their team, the company’s reputation, and their service/product/offering. Sometimes these can get lost in the day-to-day activities of keeping a business running, but a strong leader will empower staff to feel part of that vision and to embody its values. A leader can demonstrate just how to walk the walk every day to take the steps needed to achieve the vision.
Keeping morale high.
Businesses are nothing without their people. Top talent is hard to come by and retention is a challenge for all organisations, but a leader can help to create a positive environment for staff. A happy, contented workforce who feel appreciated and involved in a company’s journey will be more engaged and productive which is vital if businesses want to achieve their goals and have a healthy bottom line. One of the most powerful ways to boost and maintain morale is to have an authentic leader or even several leaders across an organisation who can help guide, motivate and inspire the team.
Help to inspire people to achieve key business aims.
Communication, understanding and being visible are all key traits of a great leader when motivating a team to achieve key goals or targets. It’s important that leaders are available and accessible to the team for people to bounce ideas off of or even for them to vent their frustrations to. For the best outcomes, the team needs to buy into the company’s goals and the strategy, everyone involved needs to be aligned on what success looks like and leaders need to acknowledge and support the team throughout the process.
Be present and accountable.
When individuals demonstrate accountability through their actions, they are setting the pace for leadership and performance. They’re also showing others how to be accountable for doing what they say they’ll do. Leaders motivate people by staying on track and not letting set backs or surprises derail them. Leaders need to show and demonstrate Integrity, they need to be honest about timelines and any setbacks. Reacting and thinking on their feet is something vital for leaders because in business things don’t always go smoothly, they need to be learning new skills and adapting new behaviours because a leader who is content with standing still isn’t really a leader at all.
Think of Portugal’s 2016 Euro final against France. Ronaldo came off of the pitch in the 25th minute following an injury – but despite that he was enthusiastically cheering on his team mates from the side-lines, spotting opportunities they couldn’t see whilst immersed on the field and supporting the Manager and the Coaches implement their strategy to achieve the win. Following the game, he said "Unfortunately, things didn't go well for me. I injured myself in the first few minutes. But I've always believed in these players. They have quality and ability, along with our coach's strategy to win,"
Leaders are more complex than the traits outlined in this blog but it’s important to have them within your organisation. And sadly, I cannot answer the question of “Will Ronaldo lead Manchester United to success?” (I’m certainly hoping so) but I can say that whether you’re a Red Devils fan or not… we can all learn something about the importance of leadership from Ronaldo.