By Hugo Greenhalgh on 13 Aug 2015
Mourinho-style management can only alienate
Less than a week into the new football season and Jose Mourinho is already making headlines for the wrong reasons. Never far from controversy, the Chelsea manager has given his colleague and team doctor Eva Carneiro a very public dressing down for her actions in last Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Swansea. He has also significantly downgraded her matchday duties, leaving her effectively demoted.
With just over 90 seconds of the match remaining, Carneiro and Chelsea physiotherapist Jon Fearn entered the pitch to tend to the injured Eden Hazard. Mourinho shouted at them as they did so and was highly critical of the pair in his post-match press conference, as it left his side with just nine players, Chelsea already having had their goalkeeper sent off.
This abrasive style of communications is textbook Mourinho. After a poor performance, he will often choose to focus on another factor – be it the refereeing, his players’ mental fragility or his own doctor. This deflects media criticism away from his own managerial shortcomings and turns the attention onto a third party. And it works. With this week’s back pages focusing firmly on the row with Carneiro, few will remember Chelsea’s abject display against Swansea.
However, this latest PR move feels like a step too far and his criticism way out of line. Under General Medical Council guidelines, Carneiro would have been obliged to enter the pitch as referee Michael Oliver summoned her on. She has also received the backing of the Premier League Doctors’ Group who have stated, “a refusal to run on to the pitch would have breached the duty of care required of the medical team to their patient”.
This paints Mourinho as the callous and ruthless individual he’s often portrayed to be, prepared to sacrifice the safety of his players and the duties of his staff in order to give his team the best chance of winning. When they disobey his wishes, he leaves them out to dry. Nick Wilcox, a lawyer from Brahams Dutt Badrick French, has said that Mourinho’s response has been “disproportionate”. He added, “This does look like an arguable case for constructive dismissal. That is the territory you would be investigating as a lawyer if you were acting for her.”
Perhaps Mourinho would be wise to practice a fairer form of leadership in future and heed some recent advice for NHS management. Crowdsourcing consultancy Clever Together organised the ‘Change Challenge’ together with Health Service Journal (HSJ) and NHS IQ earlier this year so thousands of NHS staff could have their voices heard and instigate bottom-up change within the organisation.
One of their case studies said, “While some NHS organisations are moving forward and have an open culture, a number have a ‘closed’ culture and are led by people who exhibit bullying behaviours”. Chelsea under Mourinho seems very much like this sort of ‘closed’ culture. Commanding staff loyalty is one thing, but it is a two-way street from which the manager must lead by example. Writing in HSJ last week, Clever Together managing director Pete Thomond advises, “treat NHS colleagues with compassion, like they are human beings”. There’s certainly been little compassion on Mourinho’s part in his dealings with Carneiro.
Empowering staff is an important part of any successful leadership strategy. They must feel trusted and that their expertise is respected by those above them, so that they can carry out their duties effectively. Making criticisms constructive and keeping them in-house, rather than airing them to the media, is a big part of this. Mourinho is no doctor and his public questioning of Carneiro, who has five years of experience at Chelsea, has understandably upset her.
Large organisations, like hospitals and football clubs, must also recognise that each role within them is contributing in some capacity to the greater good. Receptionists, cleaners and porters all play their part in the running of an efficient hospital, not just the doctors, nurses and senior management. Similarly, while it may be the footballers themselves who achieve results on the pitch, this would not be possible without a large and experienced backroom staff, like doctors and physios.