The newspapers are full of the return of Jose Mourinho. But this time, there’s been a definite make-over. Claiming to be a more “mature” and “humble” person, Mourinho’s first press conference still had elements of theatre, but seemed designed to disown the brash egotistical person of old. Only time will tell whether there has been an epiphany of some kind or whether he will once again ‘let rip’ when things go wrong. However, the presentation does illustrate some interesting aspects of leadership.
First, although we may be entertained by big egos and combative antics, it’s rare for us to ‘warm’ to them. The feeling is that they are more concerned about their own issues with little room for yours. This is a contrast with the footballers Mourinho manages, who often talk about him in glowing terms; so there must be something there to warm to!
The question is therefore, why would he seek to change his public persona? The is probably about getting people to be ‘on your side’. The messages could be for a multitude of audiences that Mourinho would find helpful if they were more sympathetic towards him such as the media, the fans, the football authorities (with fair play rules on the horizon) and even Abramovich himself.
Second is the power of humility. The gap between confidence and arrogance is small. We want our leaders to be confident, but most of us feel uncomfortable with too much arrogance. It’s a line most politicians would do well study. Mourinho’s ‘new image’ clearly recognises the significance of this difference and hence, I suspect, the move from the ‘Special’ to the ‘Subdued ‘One.
For others in leadership positions, it emphasises the need to balance confidence with humility (while avoiding excessive self-deprecation).
Above all, it should remind us to avoid just ‘letting rip’, no matter how frustrated we feel! It’s similar to ego. If all we’re concerned about is our own feelings, how can we be concerned with the feelings of other?