Leadership: Blattered! (part 1)

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Oh dear!

I’m sure FIFA, just like many other organisations that have had similar experiences, would say they have had better weeks.

So Mr Blatter is going, although it seems he will be taking hiw own sweet time in doing so.

But what can we learn about leadership from this distinctly ‘sticky’ situation?

Before I go on, let me just tell you I have no interest in football whatsoever.

Let’s look at some of the key qualities that help to deliver great leadership. For this article, and part 2 to follow, I will particularly look at four areas:

  • Direction
  • Clarity
  • Responsibility
  • Decision-making



Blatter score: 6/10

One thing we all continually seek, whether at work or elsewhere, is certainty.

In a leadership context, both for the leader and for those they are leading, one of the constituent parts of establishing that certainty is direction – a robust, well-planned, well thought out, completely comprehensible way forward. If you ever listen to successful leaders, the best area always succinct about the direction they are taking the organisation.

What’s more, because that direction has been so thoroughly constructed, it can be easily understood by all it affects.

But what about Mr Blatter?

What direction had he (and his fellow executives) decided upon for FIFA, and was it clearly understood by all (especially bearing in mind how essential it is to FIFA for the media to clearly understand it too)?

Yes, there seemed to be a well understood direction regarding future FIFA tournaments, supporting and developing football participation in developing countries, and even, one could argue, when key FIFA members’ participation is required (e.g.: conferences, elections, bids, etc).

But what about exactly how the organisation will move itself forward, remain relevant both to the sporting world but also to the era in which we live now, and even give consistent and clear goals and identifiably progressive steps towards those goals?

Both FIFA and Mr Blatter could, and most definitely should have done much, much better.



Blatter score: 2/10 (being generous!)

You may have heard me use the simple equation:

simple + clear = effective

So often, those in higher profile leadership roles are substantially lacking in how clear they are in most or all of the essential aspects of their role.

Communication, planning, goals, solutions, decisions, understanding, and the list goes on and on and on – every single one needs absolute clarity consistently and persistently.

If the leader is not crystal clear about what they are doing, how can they expect those around them, and those that depend on them to clearly support and deliver what they ask?

Worse still, in our media-obsessed world, a lack of clarity will very quickly become “smoke and mirrors”, then rumours will start, then the ‘mud’ starts to stick, or those infamous ‘skeletons’ start falling out of all those cupboards, and before you know it you’re on a downward spiral to goodness-knows-where.

And all because there has been insufficient clarity.

It seems this has been one area where Mr Blatter (and no doubt other FIFA executives) has performed poorly.

Has he been consistently clear? I think not.

Has he often confused the viewer/listener? At times, definitely,

Has he been transparent? Nope!


Look out for part 2, coming soon.

To discuss more on how I can help you enhance your leadership, strategy, and build a better business, please call 01242-672440, or click here to email.