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The moment Alf Ramsey lost the changing room

Blair McPherson - former Director, Author and Blogger
red chair lot at daytime photo

In the years immediately after England won the World Cup the then manager Alf Ramsey could do no wrong in the eyes of his players but as the winning team was replaced by a new generation the manager’s word was no longer law. At the start of an England training session Alf brought the new younger members of the squad together and suggested they get a hair cut. They just sniggered.

Here was a manager so out of touch with the new generation that rather than accord him the respect due the countries most successful international manager ever they considered his ideas and methods so out of date as to be a joke. It might be an extreme example but all managers no matter how successful will one day be considered to be out of touch. And as chief executives get younger and changes happen quicker their time at the top gets even shorter.

I think it happens to us all it’s just more news worthy in those who were regarded as special. Even the most ardent revolutionary becomes in time the weary establishment. Years cool the fire of passion. Colleagues and the board start to question the managers judgment . Senior staff who at one time spoke of their manager in the way follows of a religious cult speak of their leader can no longer be relied upon.  Now their loyalty can not be taken for granted. Criticism has come to feel routine.
The astute manager always sought to generate a sense of siege, but the senior management team used to be inside the walls. The old methods don’t work but the boss can’t or won’t change. The manager is no longer able to relate to their team and the team find it increasingly hard to have faith in the manager.
But having been head hunted as a serial winner the chair is obliged to back the manager at least for two more rounds of the budget.
The boss is from the age of austerity, pre pandemic. More concerned with efficiency than creativity, experienced at cutting budgets not creating jobs, an opportunist rather than a strategist, more comfortably with competition than cooperation some one who sees little value in debate when there is only one way forward.
The boss’s contemporaries are now working in management consultancy, on the board of some middling charity or commentating from the side lines. As we prepare for the post pandemic reality it‘s obvious the  world has moved on and the boss has not moved with it. Which is not so unusual. Only the exceptional have the hunger and capacity to evolve. Very few managers endure at the very top for more than a decade and as changes happen quicker time at the top gets shorter.

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