Across Europe, people everywhere, including in cities with no vested interest, are today discussing last night’s football. Klopp’s Liverpool FC pulled off an unprecedented, unexpected and seemingly impossible comeback against Barcelona. Watching his interview afterwards was, for me, the best part of the night and left me wondering why it hadn’t been expected. Of course, they were playing Barcelona who have Messi and Liverpool needed to score four goals and not concede any, but they did it and what a leader Klopp is, as the interview demonstrated.
He gave the credit to the players, he thanked the fans, he acknowledged the role luck had played, he admitted there was no way of strategically planning for the game and he wasn’t afraid to show his emotions. There are so many possible perspectives on his style of leadership but, for me, his two most powerful qualities are his authenticity and his passion.
His style wouldn’t work for everyone, he doesn’t care he plays “heavy metal football” as he calls it. A few years ago, while on a training course, I found myself shifting uncomfortably in my seat when the trainer, who was hugely experienced and knowledgeable, criticised organisations that value passion saying passion makes you unmeasured and prone to making instinctive decisions rather than carefully weighed-up decisions. I understand this perspective, but to be honest I disagree with it. Passion doesn’t have to replace anything, it can work alongside planning and data, and it can make all the difference. Sometimes, like with Liverpool last night, passion is the only hope.
Encourage passion, encourage people to care, let people be themselves and, as a result, see your teams punch above their weight.
As leaders, we can all be authentic if we take the time to understand ourselves and we can all be passionate if we can work in line with our values. As a leader, Klopp is impossible to copy, but he’s a brilliant one. And as a result, why would any of his players want to leave? There must be a queue of players wanting to be part of his team.