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Babies, leaders and football

Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp is known for being able to get the best out of his players and inspiring them to want to work hard for him, so how can you learn from him to improve your ability to get the most out of those you lead and manage, asks Younger Members London’s Jatinder Singh.

Jurgen Klopp

September 2018

A key reason why Jurgen Klopp is able to get the best from his players is because he understands their challenges outside their workplace.

He understands footballers are no longer just footballers. They are businesses as well. Yet, so too are their managers! Often the manager bares most of the responsibility for their team’s performance. If they lose too many matches, often they pay the price for failure by losing their jobs. Does this sound familiar?

It is therefore very refreshing to see Jurgen Klopp being so mature, seeing the bigger picture recently when one of his players, Nathaniel Clyne, left their training camp early to be at the birth of his child. Klopp said: “The baby will keep him busy for a few days and then he will start training again, all good. There are more important things in life than football, and babies are definitely one of them.”

It’s this wise, balanced thinking that we can learn from and apply as leaders and managers. He understands that everyone has competing demands and priorities on their time. By being considerate and understanding of his players’ emotional pressures, he builds trust with them and they know he is a reasonable person in other situations where he will demand more from them. He also understands that success in professional life cannot compensate for failure in personal and family lives.

As Stephen Covey says in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: “Many people seem to think that success in one area can compensate for failure in other areas of life. But can it really? Perhaps it can for a limited time in some areas. But can success in your profession compensate for a broken marriage, ruined health, or weakness in personal character. True effectiveness requires balance.”

Jurgen Klopp demonstrates that he understands that people are not things. You cannot be efficient with people and treat them as machines. It is this understanding of people that helps us understand why Klopp is so highly regarded as a manager. It is not just his understanding of football, but of people.

Jatinder Singh is member of Younger Members London.

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