Playing for managers who believe in us

I’ve been following Manchester United football club for 15 years now. While the regularity with which I watch games has waxed and waned over the years, it has been particularly difficult since our second baby arrived earlier this year. But, in this case, neither did I really want to watch the team play regularly. Watching the team play felt like a soulless experience.

The manager of a football/soccer club is the work equivalent of 3 levels of management. They are the soul of the football club and carry immense decision making power as long as they have the CEO and Board’s backing. And, for the past two and a half years, the manager of Manchester United sucked all joy out of the club. Worst of all, he alienated most of his players by repeatedly shaming them in front of the media.

So, it was truly wonderful to check out the highlights of the game yesterday as a new era dawned on the club. The team scored 5 goals in a single game for the first time in 5 years. And, the players seemed to have fun.

The saying – people don’t leave companies, they leave their managers – crossed my mind as I watched yesterday’s highlights for the third time. Playing for a manager who believed in them lifted every player on the team. We saw more creativity, more hustle, and more happiness than we’d seen in a long time.

Managers matter. Investing in finding and working for managers who believe in us can make more of a difference than we sometimes realize.