How to be successful in Implementation – as a Premier League Manager and as a new CEO

By Andreas Frische Geir Lislerud

The 5th blog in the series by Geir Lislerud & Andreas Frische, Partners at Mercuri Urval.

Geir: Finally, he made it Andreas. I told you that Klopp is the best Premier League Manager. Now he won the Champions League with Liverpool. Best Coach, best Motivator and best Strategy.

Andreas: I love to see the German succeed, but the best Premier League Manager is definitely Pep Guardiola. He won the Premier League title, which for sure is much more difficult than this year's Champions League. It is the best league in the world and you have to perform all season long. Guardiola brought the title to Manchester City and created a return on the heavy investments of Sheikh Mansour for the first time with four titles in one season. His ability to create an atmosphere of concentration, team spirit, competition and motivation to succeed is unique.

Geir: Yes, but take a look on the money spend on transfers. Klopp made much more out of the investments than Pep. Both have teams with great players, but Klopp developed them to become stars. Pep got them as ready stars and formed a team. Good managers develop their people!
And Klopp is the full package of an extraordinary Manager. He is strategic, motivational, extrovert, likeable and a great communicator.

Andreas: Great managers do not need to be extrovert. Pep is much more empathetic than many think. Ask his players. He is highly accepted, trusted and respected although he seems to be introvert and sometimes even shy. It is his ability to influence his environment by simple rules, focus and discipline that makes him successful. What he asks from the club he also asks of himself. He forces his players to healthy diets and does the same. He forces his players to stay fit and he does the same. He forces his players to rest between the many games and he does the same. This is how you succeed over a long period and the whole season.

Geir: No doubt Pep is successful. But Klopp is authentic, approachable, likeable and an amasing ambassador for the Clubs he worked for. He creates brands. His own brand and the brand of the Club. He creates value for the Club because he makes the players better and more valuable. He increases merchandising revenue and the value of the whole Club. He tripled the aggregated value of the Liverpool team and almost made it into a one billion € team. Klopp has the ability to do all this in a way it looks easy to achieve. However, I'm sure he has a long term plan, a dedicated idea what he has to do and a consequent implementation plan.

Andreas: I fully agree on what you say about Jürgen Klopp. However, Guardiola has proved to be successful in different environments. He had success in Barcelona, Munich and Manchester. Very different Clubs with very different stakeholders. Klopp's Clubs are quite similar. Mainz, Dortmund and Liverpool are all environments with very emotional cultures. That's where he can influence. Pep has shown to be able to change a culture and adapt as far as necessary to implement his strategy and vision. He makes every Club successful!

Geir: I disagree on this Andreas. Let him coach a second league Club in Spain. It would not work. Guardiola makes good players even better and he makes good environments even more profes-sional and success-oriented. But, he needs a premium basis and Klopp does not. He can make every player, every coach and every green keeper better in what they are doing. This is true leadership to me.

Andreas: Hey Geir - let's agree they are both great. They have a lot of abilities good football Club Manager and good CEOs have in common. We have talked a lot about these attitudes, capabilities and attributes in our four blog series. Let's conclude it.

Conclusion on the similarities between Premier league Managers and new appointed CEOs

  • Leading high performers  you have to balance an individual and team approach in your leadership style – you are depended on your high performers and high knowledge workers.
  • Strategy assessment  develop a solid strategy and make a fundamental assessment of the internal gaps – Culture eats strategy: set the culture and generate achievable and visible results fast – plan thoroughly to implement with urgency
  • Assessment of team resources  be clear to yourself, the team and individuals regarding the gaps – Integrate public relations, be visible and authentic
  • Fire, hire & development of individuals  don not hesitate to fire or develop, it's a sense of urgency to win the battle – plan with setbacks – they will come.

Of course, we do not know if all our assumption about Premier League Managers are true. But we have seen many CEOs and other Managers seeking for advice and experiences from others. Only a few Management roles have such an exposure that they are public and others can learn from. A lot of learnings can be taken by the literature and management science. We tried to give some practical advises from very obvious Management roles and we found them in Premier League Football Managers.
If you like our thoughts and ideas please "like" the series. If you like to comment or to ask anything we are happy to receive your input.

Best regards

Andreas Frische
Executive Vice President & Partner
Mercuri Urval Group

Geir Lislerud 
Partner & Director (Team Leader)
Mercuri Urval Group