Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Cristiano Ronaldo played on the same Manchester United squad between 2003 and 2007. Soon after Ole retired as a player due to injury and went on to coach the team’s Forwards for a short time before moving on to assist his native club in Norway. In 2009 Ronaldo left Manchester United for Real Madrid on an GBP80M contract offer. Later in 2019 Ole returned to Manchester as United Team Manager.
Fast forward to 2021- 12 years later; Ronaldo is back home with the Red Devils – as the World Star Footballer, the greatest player the game has ever seen – bigger and better; united more than ever and, interestingly, returned to a team managed by his former teammate – Ole! Wow!!
I am captivated by what appears to be a fairy tale story. hmmm – not really. Together with the millions of fans around the world I assure you that this really happened! I could not let this occasion pass by without having my say; not just because I am a fan of this great club and the sport; but, more importantly there is so much to learn here – Humility, respect, the power of sports, true legends, integrity, responsibility, relationships, being flexible and adaptable to change, achieving success – just to name a few.
In the business world we learn not everyone wants and should be a manager or a leader – it is like being a parent – not everyone wants the responsibility of raising and caring for a child. Leadership comes with a high-level responsibility and accountability not only for the position itself, but for the organization and each team member. Therefore, an individual’s great contribution to a team does not automatically qualify him or her for the position of leader or manager as this requires a different skill set. As a football player Ole was known as the ‘super-sub’ as he had the ability to come off the substitute bench to score much needed late goals. One does not need to be the best player to hire the best player. Solskjaer by no means was the best football player, but today he is leading a team which includes Cristiano – the greatest player the game has ever seen!
Ronaldo is a real team player. He demonstrated that in the way in which he placed emphasis on the good relationship he had with his former teammate Ole when they played together at Manchester United. He was quick to note that the roles are different now as he is a player and Ole is now his coach. A sign of respect, humility and being flexible and adaptable to change. He further noted that he is here to help the team Manchester United achieve their goal and “…the coach can count on me for whatever he wants… so I am available for everything.” Taking responsibility for his performance. His relationship extends beyond the manager, and this was proven when he was greeted on arrival at Manchester by Darren Fletcher, his former team-mate and the club’s technical director.
Diving deeper in the Ronaldo’s return to Manchester, we see how the leaders, current teammates and fans respect his talent, skills, his performance record, and the value he brings to the club. Manager Ole stated “He is not only a marvelous player, but also a great human being.” Perhaps a demonstration of humility. Ole continued “…He is going to give everyone a boost, I played with him, he’s a great player, a top human being, a top professional, he will give everyone around the club a buzz.” The Manager knows reward and recognition is important, even for the greatest player. Recognition should always remain a big part of a leader’s role.
Ole also understands that his success is measured by the growth and performance of his team. It is not about him, it’s about the team – the players. In his comments at the end of the 1st game he applauds the new player while highlighting the performance of his entire team. He noted that he was “proud, proud of their performance”…”….they all delivered.”
This purchase of the greatest player is an example of ‘setting the stage for success’ – hire people with the right skills for the job at hand. Team Manager Ole and his senior leadership team went after the best player as they understand to win you need the best talent. The expectation is not only Ronaldo bringing his best to Manchester United, but his presence will add value to the club, its players and eventually an overall improvement in the team performance.
I have always had a passion for writing and gained reassurance from the excellent results received on my papers submitted for my MBA. Writing is fun and interesting. Outside of writing I am an experienced Business Professional with a demonstrated high performance history in financial services industry. Skilled in Risk Management, Credit analysis; Commercial Lending and Deal Structuring, Marketing, Business Development and Professional Sales. My others skills are centered around Event Planning, Social Media Management, Speech Writing. I am a proud Mom, a devoted Wife and a committed Rotarian.