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Again, leadership lessons from Real Madrid


Real Madrid President; Floretino Perez

As local and global politics became more complicated at the weekend, I would like to shift some focus to some equally significant success factors in the organized private sector that we often ignore. What else shall we write about local politics without ethics? The more you look at what is happening to the resurgent ‘Biafran Dream’, for instance, the less we see! Just as observers were scratching heads over what to do with the Biafra conundrum, like a bolt from the blues came a toxic quit notice to the Oriental brothers to leave the North.

The notice, clearly an assault on Nigeria’s constitution has triggered a spate of other more toxic statements from other youth and elders’ organizations in the South. Unto a section of the South South, in 2018 will be born a new Republic called RONDEL, Region of Niger Delta, for instance. Nigeria is “on the brink again” on the eve of June 12 anniversary – of the day General IBB’s government murdered democratic sleep 24 years ago! But as the coordinating, sorry acting president and other leaders in the injured federation were still contemplating on what to do with the ruptures emanating from various tributaries in the federating units, one just fired FBI chief in the United States had the audacity to say that his fiery president was actually a lying liar who told some lies to demonize him and the awesome FBI while doing their job on the Russian jigsaw puzzle on which he was arbitrarily fired.

That is about what a man of great letters, J.P Clark called ‘”America Their America”years ago. And to complicate matters, our wily colonial masters got wounded too in their own political gamble at the weekend. The Oxford trained British Premier already caught in some Brexit mesh got into some swamp under the London’s brittle bridge. The school marmish PM, Theresa May who went into the snap election in the U.K on Thursday with a clear majority in Parliament woke up in the early hours yesterdaywith a Hung Parliament (no party with an absolute majority of seats in the legislature to form a government). She is already forming a minority government. This a news roundup in a world that nationalism nurtured by populism is delivering. The more you look the less you see. And whose report shall we believe?


Comey said his president is a serial liar and artful dodger. And the president retorted that Comey is a spoil-sport, a leaker and a liar. Verily, verily I say to you my people, my people, political commentary is becoming more and more complicated even with the way this strange citizen journalism is shaping developments at the speed of thought.

That is why this week; I would like us to discuss some points about business models that can affect governance and nation building in global context. Although many of our political leaders do not know that they actually need to go to good business and management schools to manage their politics well. General knowledge is good, but with the way the world is witnessing some convergence between politics and business, it is important that leadership lessons and models that modern leaders learn should include some modules in business and management schools- to succeed in politics. It is sad that most of our leaders in Nigeria do not understand that they are just wasters: they do not record significant achievements for eight years that most of them spend in office. They just take oath of office, enjoy themselves very well and just take a large portion of the state resources and go away.

And as soon as they leave office, the memories we have of them begin to fade the week they leave office. That is why it is important to advise those who wish to seek public office that modern leaders need some empowerment called “dynamic capabilities” through proper education in business management. What is the nexus between business management education and success in politics? Here is the thing: good political leaders in modern governance system should begin to see people as customers to satisfy every day.

Leaders at all levels need to read the constitution contextually. For instance, the 1999 constitution, sections 130 (2) and 176 (2) actually provide that the president and governors are, and should be treated as “chief executives” of the federation and states respectively. The services they should deliver, therefore, ought to be treated as if they were goods and services to be delivered to the customers called the people. And so they should seek to treat service delivery as a brand whose equity should always be improved upon so that return on investment (ROI) to the owners will be tangible and robust. The way most of our leaders see government money is something to be spent anyhow without accounting for it to the owners – the people. In this regard, there is an urgent need for curriculum reform in our local business and management schools to reflect realities of these times.

The way we still call Faculties of Business Administration and Public Administration instead of Business School, Management School and Governance/Government School should be reformed and rebranded as leadership training institutions where would be leaders should be trained on critical governance issues such as “project management”. In modern governance system, medical doctors who have got the science of medicine need to acquire science of management before setting up. There should, therefore, be many of them in management and business schools for science of management (of their clinics and hospitals). In modern times, management and leadership are taken very seriously beyond reading motivational speakers’books that fill our bookstores and shops. According to experts such as Margaret Weathley, to discover order in this chaotic world, we need to go back to school to discover case studies on “leadership and the new science”. The point here is that business owners all over the world headhunt chief executive officers who can manage their firms to make profits to shareholders. And these well paid CEOs work hard to make profit and of they don’t, they are fired. That is the way our leaders should think to make impact on the lives of the people that employ them.


My friends and colleagues at work know that I have been following Real Madrid so fanatically for about two decades now. I have just some interest in Barcelona because of the artistry of Barca’s Lionel Messi. But I follow Real Madrid in and out of seasons as a business model that is unique. Which is why I have often used the two Spanish giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona as examples of how to invest and manage talent, which I have also quoted sources to say can be overrated using again, Messi and Ronaldo as a case study.

Recall that in my first year anniversary of the Buhari administration, I had on May 28, 2016, written on this page an article titled, “Buhari: Anniversary Lessons from Real Madrid & Barcelona”.

I had then observed that in the last few years (about eight years) these two clubs have been producing the World Footballer of the Year (Ballon d’Or). Not only that, one of them, Real Madrid was then the richest (Manchester United has just taken over), according to Forbes. Manchester United (England) was the third on the rich list in 2015. Bayern Munich (Germany) was fourth while Arsenal (England) was the fifth. Let’s stop at the sixth, Manchester City. I had then discussed the enterprise spirit in the investors in Real Madrid and Barcelona within the context of strategic human resource management (SHRM) model that leaders could borrow from. I still maintain today that the two players of the two selected teams, Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo have been the discussion points every week after soccer competition. They are at the moment, the most frequently discussed in the world in soccer excellence, even in contextualising talent and training.

It is said that Messi is a raw talent while Ronaldo is a reconstructed phenomenon through robust training. Only good world-class coaches are employed to maintain the brand equity of the two top clubs that always produce about 70 per cent of FIFA’s annual Best XI (Eleven Players in the world).

This again is to draw the attention of our leaders at all levels to the point earlier made on this page that you cannot rise above the quality of your team members or workforce. This is the model that a businessman called Perez Florentino, current President of Real Madrid has taught the world of business and leadership. The Spanish investor does not brook mediocrity in HR framework. He believes that only the best players can win big for Real Madrid that just won European Champions League back to back, first in the modern era of the tournament. The Club also just won La Liga after five years of domination by Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. But in the last four years they (Real Madrid have won three CL competitions. He believes that you cannot recruit mediocre footballers to win La Liga and Champions League.

Florentino Pérez Rodríguez, a Spanish businessman, a civil engineer and politician born on 8th March 1947) is the current president of Real Madrid C.F., as well asGrupo ACS, a civil engineering company. He is most famous for ushering in Real Madrid’s period of LosGalacticos, a time when the club paid extremely high transfer fees for elite world-class footballers.Pérez, who attended the Polytechnic University of Madrid first ran for the presidency of Real Madrid in the 19 February 1995 election.

His second attempt was more successful; he took over as president in 2000, beating the current chairman at that time, Lorenzo Sanz. Sanz. Pérez’s promise to bring in Luis Figo from arch-rivals Barcelona also played a decisive role in the elections. Pérez was reelected in 2004 with 94.2% of the total votes. Figo also marked the start of Pérez’s policy to bring one of the best football players in the world to Real Madrid each season. In 2001, ZinedineZidanewas signed from Juventus for a then-world record transfer fee of €73.5 million. He was followed by Ronaldo in 2002, David Beckham in 2003, Michael Owen in 2004 and Robinho for a short while in 2005. Initially, Pérez’s policy worked to great success, as each new Galáctico had the squad built around them, and the team had a good balance between attack and defence. In his first years in office, Real Madrid won two Spanish Championship and its record ninth European Cup.


The man who began his second term inJune 2009 has brought in other world players such as Kaka from AC Mila for just under £60 million, while on 11 June, Manchester United accepted an £80 million offer for Chritiano Ronaldo , which would once again break the world record. On 25 June, Pérez and Real Madrid announced the signing of Valencia centre-back Raul Albiol for €15 million. On 1 July, Pérez bought Karim Benzema from Olympique Lyonnais for a fee of at least £30 million.

In 2010, Pérez the talent hunter who has enjoyed a record 4th term, presented Jose Mourinho as the new coach of Real Madrid in a £6.8 million deal has brought a lot of new faces to Los Blancos, including the German wunderkind Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria, Gareth Bale, PFA Player of the Year from Tottenham Hotspur, etc.
Therefore, if you want to be a high-flying organisation, economy or ruling party or government, you have got to aim for the best brains that can deliver services to the people in the manner Real Madrid has just done.

And this is the contextual issue here: The quality of your team should not be compromised on the altar of ethnicity and religion. Like Real Madrid, get the best anywhere to achieve results. The clincher here is that if you want a brand performance like Real Madrid’s you should prepare to invest in your own Cristiano Ronaldo who just delivered extraordinary results to Real Madrid that even the great Lionel Messi acknowledged. Which reinforces an ancient saying that only good trees can produce good fruits.

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