No Leadership is Better Than Poor Leadership

Join the conversation

Leadership is not something to take lightly, and it’s certainly not a role comes naturally to everyone but recently we saw how perhaps eliminating poor leadership led to an extraordinary win in the AFCON final for Côte d’Ivoire against Nigeria.

It’s extremely important to note that the fantastic success was achieved after sacking their manager after a rocky start. The decision was a brave one, Jean-Louis Gasset lost the trust of his team and fans, everybody thought they were out of the conversation to win, but sacking the manager appeared to many to be a harsh ‘knee jerk’ reaction.

On my way to the office, I was enjoying the radio coverage of the AFCON tournament – when the famous and well-respected sports journalist, Simon Kuper, came on. He was provocatively discussing the huge sacking decision and he claimed that a team does not need a manager, that it’s the players that make a team great and lead the success.

Kuper’s statement stuck with me, and at first, I thought he was possibly onto something – we often say no leadership is better than poor leadership, and Ivory Coast certainly proved this to be true. But as it played on my mind, I couldn’t let go of the thought of what if it had been a massive coach like Pep Guardiola taking over, or a manager with similar, high credibility. Like Emma Hayes. I think you’d find it difficult to argue that a manager of that calibre wouldn’t be able to create a winning culture, an environment that makes every individual feel part of something special. Both have achieved this time and again.

It isn’t about having no leadership at all; it’s about having the right leadership. Every team needs someone to come in and make everyone feel better, give more, and ensure that they all have each other’s backs. Admittedly, that is not easy or straightforward. Every team needs a leader that is ready to recognize their positive contributions and take the blame when things do not work out.

The Ivorian players and coaching team accomplished something truly special, but it was the motivation and almost necessity to win that drove them there. Sebastien Haller, a man who not long ago was fighting testicular cancer, stepped up and scored the winner, what a story that is. In that moment, Ivory Coast found their hero, they found their leader. But we also cannot forget the responsibility taken by their interim manager, Emerse Faé. Faé was given a huge task, with huge expectations and he certainly delivered at a time of need.

Despite setbacks thrown their way, the players, and staff around them did not give up – it’s important to notice one thing, the team still needed someone to become a leader to make that dream become a reality.

On the sidelines, Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast’s most famous son, did his leadership bit too. He was handling the media, talking them up, pumping up the crowd and giving them his undying belief – for all to see.

The story is so beautifully unique and one that you can’t help but smile at. Once more this week, it’s taught us a lesson about leadership. The current leadership might not be the right fit, but getting rid of it won’t be the only solution, you’ve got to find someone who will become the leader and take on that responsibility, doing what is best for the team.

Last week I mentioned how much our government can learn from these stories – and would you believe this is another one, and maybe the most important of them all. Within the next year we will see a general election, and what many hope to be a change in the general political atmosphere – we are in desperate need of a confidence boost. Over the past 3 years we’ve seen Tory cabinet ministers come and go, including the Prime Minister – but nobody has yet hit the right notes and consequently, it’s been musical chairs, at a time when what’s needed is the confidence that stability brings.

A change in leadership isn’t just about getting rid of the leader, we need to find the right replacement – sometimes we need a team member to be willing to step up, or sometimes it’s a new face, right for the team.

Côte d’Ivoire took a huge risk, and appointed Emerse Faé, who had not taken charge of senior match before as interim manager, but their team pulled together and found those that would lead them. They got rid of what they thought was the problem, and their solution was to go out there and give it everything – that is worth the biggest round of applause you can think of.

We’ve covered when leaders need to step down, when a colleague should move on – this week we’ve seen just how powerful a team can become when they are not poisoned with poor leadership.

There is nothing more important than having a strong leader that you can trust and respect to take your team to the very top, but if we are together, we can do anything.


Thought of the week:

Great leaders don’t look to stay in their comfort zone – great deeds usually make you feel uncomfortable.


Tips for becoming an A player:

  • Always pay attention as every day is a learning curve
  • Be demanding as a leader, but remain grateful
  • Don’t fear the future, strive for a different outcome
  • Always lead your team, never manage them
  • Value those that are different from you



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *