Capello’s Management and Where it All Went Wrong

England’s World Cup defeat has devastated football fans around the country, with many questioning Fabio Capello’s management tactics and his ability to lead a team.

A man renowned for ruling with an iron fist, he put in place a strict regime which promised to whip the England squad into shape, putting an end to persistent rumours of the team’s bad behaviour, both on and off the pitch.

But England’s poor performance in the World Cup has brought about a sense of doubt, with fans questioning whether “the Squadfather’s” no-nonsense approach has quashed the team’s spirit, creativity and its ability to perform.

There is a fine line between instilling a sense of purpose and squashing creativity and individualism - a dilemma faced by business managers every day.

The spotlight now is on Capello’s future as England coach, but managers around the world should take the opportunity to look at their own leadership style and consider how they can tailor it to create a team that always wins:

  • An element of fear: There is no doubt that Capello was ultra-strict in preparing the squad for the World Cup, his ultimate aim being to get the absolute best out of his team. Capello’s strict rule, however, did not kickstart the team’s talents. Instead, it seems to have spread a wave of fear and uncertainty which led to nervousness and mistakes on the pitch. It’s worth remembering that professionals, whatever their talent, will only perform to the best of their abilities if they feel confident and comfortable enough to do so.
  • Laying down the law: Capello is an experienced manager and with experience comes the confidence to make decisions and delegate. His line-up strategies, however, have invited complaints both on and off the pitch about his positioning of players in unfamiliar territory. As the leader, you will often feel that you know best and have the right to lay down the law. But bear in mind that being too prescriptive can kill creativity.
  • The issue of trust: It’s important as a manager to give team members the opportunity to play to their strengths. You might feel responsible for the end result, but trust your team members to know how they’re feeling. More often than not, the team’s captain will have a better sense of team spirit sooner than the manager, largely due to their proximity and day to day work with other team members.
  • Taking on feedback: The worst thing you can do as a manager is to not listen to what your team is telling you. Capello experienced this after England’s disastrous second match. Failing to hear his team led to mutiny in the camp, with senior players making a public stand against him. You won’t always be expected to act on every bit of feedback you get from your team, but they do need to feel that you’re listening and taking it all on board. Otherwise frustration can lead to rash decisions and dire consequences.