Managers are accountable for the outputs and behaviours of their employees. The spectacularly poor performance and early exit of Spain from the World Cup last week provides a great example of poor management and the inevitable results.
Spain had a wonderful run of success with the team that just failed in Brazil. They were European Champions in 2008 and 2012 and World Champions in 2014. But in the World Cup, the team was literally shredded by the Netherlands (1-5) and Chile (2-0).
So what happened? Don’t blame the players – blame the manager. Vicente Del Bosque appears to have forgotten the accountabilities of an effective manager.
What was Del Bosque’s strategy and plan? Because he hasn’t changed his strategy or players for several years, the competition had ample time to analyze Spain’s reasons for success and work out ways to nullify them. Del Bosque showed no ability to adapt to the evolving environment in which his team was competing. The Netherlands and Chile exploited this weakness to huge effect last week.
Why did the manager fail to create and implement a succession plan for his players? This team has become too old and there appears to have been no plan or action to build new capability and bring on the next generation of players. Where were the 19-22 year olds full of energy and adventure who could rejuvenate the team? Spain was beaten by Brazil 3-0 two years ago but Del Bosque failed to read the writing on the wall and take action.
Why did he not act on the obvious and replace his old or ineffective players holding them to account to play effectively at the level he required in the tournament? One reason could be “Anaklesis” – the wish to lean on old relationships, the avoidance of uncomfortable conversations about capability, and fear of offending team members who had served him so well but now lacked the capability to deliver.
To me, Del Bosque was a poor, ineffective manager and the results show it. He was great in his day but he appears to have failed to implement and execute 3 cardinal management accountabilities (highlighted above).
In comparison, look at Jurgen Klinsmann, the manager of the USA team, and the results he is achieving with a team of moderate capability.
You may not be interested in soccer but the World Cup gives you a wonderful opportunity to access managerial effectiveness and results achieved on the world stage.