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Cristiano Ronaldo’s leadership style and why James should be playing with Barcelona

Picture this…

Benzema dominates the ball all the way to the goal. Just a the edge of the penalty area, he kicks the ball to CR7 but fails the pass. Next scene: a tv close up shows an angry CR7 furiously reprehending Benzema for his lack of accuracy.

Two minutes later, James Rodriguez loft a pass over the defense to Marcelo. The Brazilian gets the ball and shoots at goal, but he misses. The ball impacts the goalpost and leaves the field. The camera man does a close up (again) on James. The Colombian is not angry or disappointed. James is applauding Marcelo’s effort and cheering him up. Next time! – says James.

These scenes are not hard to imagine. Actually, I watched both actions recently while getting my monthly haircut (by the way, that is what I call a great customer experience).

These sort of scenes happen very often in most of the Real Madrid matches. CR7 and James, two talented players. Both are leaders but of a very different style.

Different leadership styles

Cristiano Ronaldo is the kind of leader that pushes hard to his teammates. He knows Benzema can do better. So, he pushes him hard and reprehends him when does wrong.

Rolando’s leadership works perfectly for a team that has always been characterized for being a club full of top notch players. In a company full of leaders (like Real Madrid) one of those leaders must clearly stand out to keep the machine working and make the other leaders still wanting and maintain ambition to improve in order to become as good as the stronger one.

On the other hand, James’ style represents more the sort of leadership that favors teamwork and recognizes that everyone within the team can be the Leader at any given time if required. Oddly, this kind of leadership makes perfect sense in a club like Barça (the arch enemy). Barcelona has been the archetype of this kind of diluted leadership. They have Messi, but also Suarez, Mascherano, Neymar, Iniesta, and so. Any of them stands out at different moments. When Messi is not at his best, Neymar and Suarez raise the hand. Maybe James would do better at Barça.

I am not saying one type of leadership is better than the other. Both are valid. However, they are not for everyone. Some people might be more suited for CR7’s style than for James’. You may say: so, what?

Curiously, what seems like a football thing happens as well within organizations of any kind. Different organizations live different leadership styles and work cultures. And you should know what kind of organization is yours.

You must be aware of what kind of leadership embraces your organization and what its culture is. Moreover, you should know what its culture is not.

Be aware of your organization culture and leadership style

This is crucial when hiring people since you must be clear about what kind of talent fits into your company. It is also critical when choosing a business partner. Which would you rather have as a partner or project manager: CR7 or James Rodriguez?

If you practice a work culture like Ronaldo’s, you’ll probably have a hard time concealing ideas, making critical decisions and envisioning the future of your company if your partner is a person like James. It may work, just as happens in Real Madrid. But won’t be easy. You don’t believe me. Ask Jordan Insley, founder and CEO of Quick Ship Brands (listen to Open for Business, episode 2, How to hire). He learned the hard way how important is to be aware of culture and leadership style.

Not all the people, no matter how talented, will fit into your company.

That is why it is equally critical that as an employee you understand where you are. You should know what kind of culture and leadership is practiced by your workplace and by your boss. This is important for three basic reasons:

1) To be able to get along and fulfill the expectations.

2) To start developing the proper traits in order to move forward your career into the company.

3) To decide wether you want or need another type of leadership to thrive and try to move on to a company that gives you that.

So, start asking yourself what kind of leadership do you prefer: CR7’s or James’? Where would you like to work: Real Madrid or Barça?

Think about it and share.