In the worlds of business and sport management styles can vary enormously

Written by Jim Walsh

The way a manager in sport or business goes about engaging with and managing the people who deliver for them can vary enormously.

People working in PR see this on a daily basis, dealing not only with their own managers but also with clients at different levels of authority, different styles of communication and different backgrounds, from food to pharma to FMCG to large corporate entities.

It’s not something that you learn how to deal with on a PR course, or indeed probably any training course.

Listening recently to former Danish soccer international Jan Molby speaking about his career, he described two management styles he had encountered in sharp contrast.

He was being interviewed on Newstalk’s ‘Off the Ball’, the best sports show on radio in Ireland.

Molby was contrasting the management styles at Ajax and Liverpool where he played 20/30 years ago. I am paraphrasing him but what he said could summarise the management philosophies at the time. In Ajax the emphasis was on explaining not only what players had to do but also how it should be done. At Liverpool the manager might only use twelve words before a game and they would be the names of the eleven players and one substitute. It was assumed that as a professional footballer you knew what to do to win.

Both clubs were immensely successful.

Similarly successful PR companies can have different management styles and be equally successful. The key is that the people working in each company buys into the management style, understands it and has respect for it.

Similarly in their approach to their clients PR executives have to have the same mindset.

But there is also a responsibility on the manager and client to motivate and get the best out of the people they manage or commission.  In the case of the business it requires the manager to ensure that everyone understands the culture of the organisation and what is expected of them.

Otherwise if any manager loses the support or confidence of a significant number of those whom the organisation needs to deliver their goods or services, then the tenure of that manager will be short-lived.

In the world of professional football such tenure can be very short indeed. Just ask former Manchester United manager David Moyes.

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