The recent Green-report (2015), (which I think is an inspirational piece of leadership by Justin Welby) has raised lots of questions about secular vs kingdom models of leadership in Christian blogland.
This afternoon I watched an interview by football coach Jose Mourinho (Chelsea) after his side (who are top of the Premiership) drew a game they expected to win.
Mourinho is one of the most colourful and successful coaches in world football, what can he teach us about leadership? The BBC chose to highlight the video because every time he’s interviewed it creates a bit of a stir.
Three things I noticed about his interview.
1. He was cautiously slippery with his language. On a penalty decision he disagreed with, rather than directly criticise the ref. (that would make him vulnerable to a fine) he carefully compared ‘other countries’ where that decision would have been handled differently. Implicit criticism is slippery and defends oneself against being disciplined.
2. His underlying belief was that his team are victims of injustice, that the world is against them, that they are hated and singled out for victimisation. A classic tactic of persuading those you lead that you are special and victims, which enables you to group together against the world.
3. No recognition of weakness or failure on their part. The whole air was of superiority, if you can blame others for the injustices against you, then there’s no need to look at your own mistakes or weaknesses.
4. Subtle comparison of ‘other countries’ with England. Implying that the culture we are in is inferior and that he comes from a better place, a fairer more reasonable place. Again superiority and defensiveness modelled beautifully for us.
Mourinho used a classic leadership ‘lever’ of ‘victimhood. If you can persuade your team that you are victims, the world is against you and you’ve got your backs up against the wall, you can rally them together and ignite fresh motivation and most of all loyalty to you, of ‘us against the world’. Its a highly effective and very temporary lever, not a sustainable healthy one.
Lets’ contrast Mr. Mourinho’s school of leadership with what Jesus models for us.
1. Jesus was direct and clear in his rebukes of others. He didn’t mince his words about the Pharisees and Sadducees. He challenged their hollow religion, he pointed out their pride and he was willing to front up to their hypocrisy with direct statements. He was willing to take the rap for his confrontation of abuse of power.
2. The early church experienced injustice, Jesus himself was killed unjustly, he was killed for claiming to be who he really was. Jesus didn’t tell his followers to take on a victim mindset though. He told us to believe that we are part of a greater kingdom, to know that he defeated satan and that we are to be patient and forgiving to those who persecute us.
3. Jesus was perfect and yet he took the place of humility and he inspired others to be honest and ‘fess up to our weaknesses and failings. The kingdom of God is built not on comparing ourselves as superior to others, but confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness.
4. Jesus compared the world we live in with his kingdom in heaven. He did so not merely to critique the culture around him as the source of his oppression, but rather to model a better kingdom for all, to invite us into something more beautiful, more wonderful.
Mourinho might have some success in winning football trophies, but the culture he perpetuates and we see modelled by his players, really isn’t one I long to see repeated around me.
I’d rather have St.Peter captain my team than John Terry…