“My biggest skill is common sense. I understand life.” – Jürgen Klopp
Jürgen Klopp’s success as a manager can undoubtedly be attributed in part to his favoured gegen-pressing “heavy metal” style of play, but is there more to his winning football philosophy than the positioning of his players on the pitch and the work rate closing people down?
Well, when asked for his secret, he says, “It’s not really a philosophy; it’s just a way of life.” So, what is Jürgen’s way of life…
It’s All About Relationships
No one makes it to the top of their game on their own, and as Jürgen puts it, “All we do in life is about relationships.” Liverpool FC’s success is a team success: “As a football team, we have to work really closely together. Each of our players knows the name of each person who works at Melwood.”
What we can learn from this is that success doesn’t just happen out on the pitch on match day, it begins with the creation of a winning environment and a winning attitude at every level of involvement – not just among the players.
“We all win for each other.”
It’s All About Knowing Your Strengths
Everyone at every level of involvement must play to their strengths to generate a team success, but to know your strengths you must also know your weaknesses.
Jürgen says, “Confidence is very important for a leader, but my confidence is big enough that I can really let people grow next to me. I need experts around me, that’s what leadership is. You have strong people around you with better knowledge than you, you don’t act like you know everything, and you’re ready to admit that you have no clue in a particular moment.”
What we can learn from this is that success is not about knowing everything, it’s about having the humility to recognise what you know and what you don’t know, and always being open to learning from others.
It’s About Being Passionate
Successful people do what they love and love what they do. Football is not Jürgen’s profession, it’s his passion – his way of life. He says, “I try everything to be as successful as possible. I live 100% for the boys, with the boys, doing what we can for the club.”
His energy and passion can be seen on the side-lines at every match, but he promotes the same energy and passion in his players by letting them play with freedom.
“You have to play with freedom.”
Jürgen’s approach is to let newcomers play without bombarding them with information on how he wants them to play. He wants to see what they do naturally, and he wants to get to know them as an individual, not just a member of the team. He says, “You learn more about your players each day, and how to treat them and deal with them.”
And It’s About Team Spirit
What we can learn from all of this is that Jürgen’s winning philosophy revolves around developing team spirit. With team spirit, everyone does what they do to the best of their ability every day, meaning everyone from those making the tea to those holding the trophy high play an equally important role in the team’s success.
This brings us full circle to his belief that all we do in life is about relationships and Emotional Intelligence
To get the best out of people, you need to know them and understand them – what makes them tick? Understanding this is what Jürgen does best, he understands life, and he uses what he does best to help everyone around him do what they do best.
Jürgen’s way of life is a winning way of life, but in his words: “It needs time. Nobody wants to hear it, but that’s the truth: if you want to have success in the future, you have to be ready to work now.”
Are you ready to work?
Don MacNaughton has worked for the last 17 years helping professionals in Sport and Business get the most out of their talent.
To listen to the full interview with Eric click here