Feeling the Pressure James Shimmen

James Shimmen - February 2018

There are a number of tools available on the market which do just that, but the most well-known is the Hogan Development Survey. The HDS describes the dark side of personality - qualities that emerge in times of increased strain that can disrupt relationships, damage reputations, and derail peoples' chances of success.

The HDS measures 11 derailers that can be roughly grouped into 3 types of behaviour:

  • Moving away - A tendency to disassociate oneself from issues/people when under strain
  • Moving against - A tendency to act against others and become disruptive
  • Moving towards - A tendency to cling on and look to others for support

In most areas of life it's rare that pressure is consistently high and people are in a situation where we can see examples of this. However Premier league football managers are under constant pressure to succeed in a very public environment which provides us with the perfect opportunity to see some of these derailers in action. Below are 3 classic examples:

Arsene Wenger - Moving Away

Aresene Wenger shows classic sign of an individual that tends to move away from and avoid issues. Whether it's an incident "he didn't see", avoiding the question of if he will sign a new contract, or the constant lack of transfer activity and the unwillingness to take risks of spending big bucks on big players; Arsene has a tendency to avoid the big issues when the pressure is on. Wenger's continued inability to confront issues has led to distractions for the team, stagnation in performance, and ongoing fan unrest.

Jose Mourinho - Moving against

Mourinho is very much at the opposite scale to that of Wenger. When Mourinho is feeling the pressure and things are not going right for him everybody knows about it. Mourinho has a long history of falling out with referees, other managers, players, and most famously during the 2015 season blamed then Chelsea Doctor, Eva Carneiro for treating a patient during their draw with Swansea. Mourinho is typical of an individual who, when under pressure will look blame others which can have a huge impact on relationships and success of the team.

Slaven Bilic - Moving towards

Former West Ham manager Bilic was a man of the team, one of the lads, and it was very rare for him to criticise his players or the club. When under pressure he would always be positive in respect of his players and maintain that they were working hard and that results would come even when it was clear that the players had given up and perhaps needed a kick to get them going. Its been reported that players felt that he was not tough enough on the squad, allowed rules to be broken regularly, and gave his players easy training sessions despite the team looking at a relegation battle. Bilic's behaviour has shown him as someone that under pressure finds it difficult to take the hard line when the pressure is on and action needs to be taken, traits common with those with a high risk of displaying the move towards behaviours in the HDS.

It's important to note with all 3 of the above that despite their derailers, all have been successful to different degrees in their roles as football managers. And it's important to remember that these traits are ONLY likely to manifest when the pressure is on and is not a constant state. If Wenger, Mourinho, and Bilic were armed with the knowledge of how their behaviour might change, and were able to take steps to cope with that, what difference might it make? Take Mourinho for example, knowing that he could lash out when stressed, could he have recognised the signs, allowed himself to take a breath and mental step back, and not lashed out Eva Carneiro? Would he still be managing at Chelsea with another premier league title and maybe even another Champions League trophy to his name? With awareness and the right support its certainly a possibility.

What about your managers and leaders? Are they fit to handle the pressure of taking your organisation to the Champions League of your industry? Talk to us about how we can help you find out.