José Mourinho is a charismatic football (soccer) manager from Portugal, broadly regarded as one of the best coaches in the game’s history. He is extensively known both for his coaching success, and for his controversial leadership style. He has headed the most important European teams always leading them to national and continental titles. And even though his leadership model is often portrayed as arrogant, most of his players have a different description of it and can’t praise enough his managerial methods. Mourinho’s relation with football started at a young age when seeing his father play as a professional goalkeeper, which forged his dream to be involved in the professional sport.
As a young footballer, he was signed by regional clubs in his country but he was never a successful player. When his father moved on to coaching, he again followed the paternal lead and started studying sports science to later become one. Particularly this strong desire to be successfully involved in the professional sport after failing as a player motivated me to choose him for the profile. It is not very common to see successful soccer coaches that never even reached to be professional players. Therefore I found worthy to study the case of someone that didn’t have the experience of playing at the top level or wasn’t in direct contact with the egos of a dressing room but still managed to understand in such depth the game concepts and make big stars follow his lead without any complaints. After graduating José spent 5 years teaching in schools and then moved to be an assistant coach at a youth team. But determined to his mission, José left coaching to shortcut the process and work as a translator for Sir Bobby Robson, a legendary British coach that arrived to manage a big club in Portugal.
Soon after, Mourinho became close with Robson and was promoted to assistant coach, to later keep working with him across numerous teams. This position allowed José to be in direct contact with top players and demanding clubs settings. I consider that his outsider background forced him to study deeper all the game tactics and only with this knowledge he could validate the experience that he lacked. He became a long life learner of the game, particularly from the defensive aspect and this complemented well with Robson offensive expertise. His self-confident personality allowed him to reach that position but also toll him with the arrogant reputation. His first opportunity big as the head coach came in late 2000 when he was designed manager of the historical Portuguese club Benfica. A position that he resigned very quickly when the president denied him a contract extension that he demanded as proof of loyalty after an early success. This display of rebellion didn’t keep him of the benches for long, since a couple years after he was appointed as head coach of Benfica´s biggest rival Porto. The club where he entered history by winning 6 titles in two seasons, including Europe’s biggest honor UEFA Champions League, a trophy that is almost impossible to get for Portuguese clubs. After that, he left Portugal to coach in a more competitive league as England where he took over Chelsea and conquered another 6 trophies in three years. Later he went to Italy, where he won local titles and another Champions League. In 2010, he moved to Spain to recover Real Madrid from a big crisis and gave them a league title after 4 years of a dry spell. Five years ago he returned to England, where he passed by Chelsea again, to finally sign with Manchester United where he currently is.
When examining José´s coaching model it’s easy to identify how he puts in practice several of the concepts that we studied in class. One of his main critics is that he only cares about winning, however, he takes that “obsession” and uses it to motivate the team by creating a sense of urgency for winning. Mourinho leadership strategies relied heavily on communication. He publicly shares values that seek to emotionally involve the players with his mission, and make them identify with him. But also he uses that reputation of self-confidence to attract the pressure to his person and take it off the team. He frequently mentions that his biggest asset is the player’s trust, but at the same time, he would add that there is no better man for the job. That way he acknowledges the power that the followers have, he motivates them to contribute to his assignment while he takes the responsibility to him. Jose is particularly famous for convincing stars to do things that they are not used to help the team. His persuasion strategy is to tailor his message to maximize the buy-in with his ideas.
While coaching at Chelsea, he told Frank Lampard that he was possibly the world’s best player, but he needed to win championships to prove it. At inter, he did a similar thing with the top scorer Samuel Etoo, when he convinced him that in order to reach glory he needed to sacrifice goals. This appealed to Lampard’s desire to be the best and Etoo´s hunger for conquering Europe and pushed them to play more for the team than for themselves. Mourinho is also very effective in keeping discipline and unity of his teams. For this, he makes sure that all the teammates understand his vision and the hope that he haves for them, which is key to their great performance. He sets the expectations for conduct and behavior, he communicates them to the team, and then let them free to create their own common purposes.
As evidence of his success as a leader most of his players not only describe him as a tactic expert but also as a unique motivator. They shared that even though he could come a bit eccentric in his methods, he was able to squeeze out the bad things of their game. They even admit that he manipulates them to get what he wants, but those same ones confess that when he was his boss they were willing to die for him. Mourinho history showed how to affront crucibles in the way to your dream. His model particularly showed me that you are can be successful using different styles of leadership. And he is also demonstrated how by studying you can reach the level of expertise of an experienced colleague. It is especially interesting to learn about someone capable to implement a strategy that put the good things in the team’s favor to increase their commitment and efficiency, while he also takes the pressure off their shoulders. Even though for the outsider he comes as arrogant, he overall showed a great deal of emotional intelligence to his players. He understands himself and understands them as well. He is able to overcome this weakness as an unsuccessful football player, and at the same time use this uniqueness to inspire those who would prefer leaders that are like them.
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