Leadership lessons from Man Utd’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Leadership lessons from Man Utd’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Whatever happens between now and the end of the football season, the leadership success story of the past 12 months is without doubt the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United. Press reports previously described the atmosphere created by his predecessor as ‘toxic’ as the club embarked on a search for its fourth manager in five years after its worst start to a season since 1990.

Solskjaer arrived and immediately succeeded in transforming both the culture and performance of the club. Indeed, a BBC journalist opined that ‘resetting’ the club’s culture and bringing back discipline were key to his appointment as permanent manager.

The Norwegian is reportedly a fan of one-to-one meetings and, in an interview with news agency, Agence France-Presse, described every player as needing “an eye-to-eye connection”. “They want to know what is expected of them, but it’s not just me telling them what to do,” said Solskjaer. “It’s about asking: ‘What are your strengths? What do you feel? What can you give to the team?”

Leadership capabilities

Solskjaer, who formerly played for the club, has steered it through a highly significant transformation period and while there may still be work to be done, he has positioned it well for the future. He is regarded as authentic, has excellent communication skills, can take people with him, and The Guardian newspaper has described him as “tactically flexible”. In the relatively short time back in full public eye, he has also built an extremely positive personal brand.

There is no doubt that Solskjaer ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to leadership capabilities and provides a pretty good benchmark for modern business leaders.

Today’s leaders need a mix of core leadership traits like top-notch communication, able to lead by example, and be trusted and transparent, combined with an agile and adaptable mindset. As with the football pitch, the business world is fast-paced and unpredictable with conditions changing all the time. Leaders must be able to spot opportunity and seize it. Crucially, they must be able to lead through complex change.

Unless they have these skillsets, leaders will struggle to succeed and ensure their organisations are fit for the future. Worryingly, research conducted by Rialto Consultancy points to a lack of confidence when it comes to the skills required for such transformational leadership. One quarter of the executives who responded don’t feel sufficiently confident in their skills as future leaders.

Feelings stem from a range of factors including insufficient support, lack of relevant experience and a lack of opportunity to develop these capabilities. Two-fifths of respondents didn’t consider the culture within their organisation to be supportive of transformational leadership.

Are you a Solskjaer with the skills and capabilities that are highly in demand today or are you lagging behind your counterparts?

It is evident there is a credibility gap between existing leadership capabilities and those that are required to lead today and in the future. And too many leaders are allowing the gap to widen rather than rectify it.

The power of RALI

To address the challenge that many leaders face, Rialto Consultancy developed the Rialto Accelerated Leadership Index (RALI). The tool is based on insights and trends gleaned from five years’ extensive global research and is backed by interviews with executives in leading organisations across different functions and validated across multiple sectors. Leaders at different stages of their careers can benchmark themselves against peers and competitors.

Rialto considers that an important part of leadership development should be to help leaders compare themselves against the very best in their functional area. What will make a great finance director or HR director in the future? It is impossible to forecast without access to real-time information and insight and this is what RALI sets out to provide.

When developing RALI, it became apparent that to keep up with the pace of change and always-on transformation, leaders need a method of benchmarking their skills almost on a continual basis.

Leaders like Solskjaer, and his own hero and mentor former Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, are undoubtedly among the great role models from the world of football from whom business leaders can learn. But how do you stack up as a fit for the future leader? Are you a Solskjaer with the skills and capabilities that are highly in demand today or are you lagging behind your counterparts? RALI provides an essential tool to help you determine.

To find out more and get your leadership profile score, visit ralionline.com

share: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn E-mail
White Paper
Future leadership skillset requirements

The critical demands, increased pace of change and the landscape for modern leadership continue to change and therefore the requirements…

Top Tips
5 Tips for Enhancing Leadership Skills

Leadership is required in every field. Leaders inspire and motivate their team to perform to the highest standard. It is…

view all News & Insights