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Another leadership lesson from Real Madrid

By Martins Oloja
23 October 2022   |   3:01 am
Now that President Muhammadu Buhari is winding down and setting up succession structures and there is some glimmer of hope that terrorists too will retire from their wickedness

[FILES] Real Madrid president Florentino Perez Rodriguez.<br />/ AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO

Now that President Muhammadu Buhari is winding down and setting up succession structures and there is some glimmer of hope that terrorists too will retire from their wickedness for us to organise elections in the first quarter of 2023, let’s begin to set some agenda for the next set of leaders. It is indeed a time to share some classics and lessons from schools of successful leaders.Sadly, as I was saying here in 2016 when I first wrote on this same leadership lesson from the private sector, most of the elders and even courageous clerics who used to speak like the prophets of old have since recoiled into and remained in their shells. There is a conspiracy of silence everywhere we go. There is no elite consensus anywhere we can rely on to prevent our nation from failure.

Even the elders on the platform of ‘The Patriots’ appear tired as we may not get anything from them as we are on the march again for leadership recruitment.And so as local and global politics became more complicated at the weekend even with congratulatory messages pouring in for Liz Truss who has set a new record as the shortest serving British Prime Minister, there are some comic relief and lessons. Truss served for only 45 days. Before her was George Canning who served for 119 days in 1827 when he died.And here is the thing, as we are set to recruit a new crop of leaders at all levels again, I would like to shift some focus to some equally significant success factors in the organised private sector that we often ignore. What else shall we write about local politics without ethics? There is no robust debate to report contextually beyond the crises in the major political parties. The only elephant in the room is that the very organised North is organising again for 2023 even as the usually disorganised South is agonising. The very resourceful North is interviewing presidential aspirants on what they would do for the North, not for Nigeria while the very intellectual South is dispatching its best brains abroad while agonising that Nigeria can’t work again without federalism and constitutional change. Besides, the more you look at what is happening to the resurgent ‘ dream of the #EndSARS agitators for a new Nigeria, for instance, the less we see. It is another classic re-reading of ‘The Trials of Brother Jero’, the struggle for survival between members of the old and new set-ups in Nigeria. The old ones are strategising on how to remain in power and the younger ones and some silent, enough-is-enough soldiers for a new Nigeria are saying never again shall affliction of poor and corrupt leadership hold down the destiny of the hope of Africa and indeed the black race, Nigeria.I pray and hope that the foxy old ones are not artful enough again to send us to sleep where we will be waiting for another Godot.

And so as the struggle for the soul of Nigeria continues on all fronts, I would like to advertise again to our future leaders the business model of some investors in football in a country called Spain. The paradigm of this business model can be gleaned from how successful, influential and powerful Spain has been in the world of soccer business. Let no sycophant disrupt the rhythm of this discussion by pointing out the prosperity in the famous Premiership in England where they make more money from TV rights that make them prominent but not so significant as Spain. Or so it seems.According to Rick Warren, the author of ‘The Purpose Driven Life’, I quote often here, you can be significant without being prominent. It should be noted here that in simple terms, only two prominent football clubs have dominated even global soccer from Spain: F.C Barcelona and Real Madrid. That was demonstrated again last week at the Ballon d’Or ceremony of celebration of the best in football where the two more significant football laurels for male and female were carted away by Real Madrid and Barcelona: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) and Alexia Putellas Segura (Barcelona). In fact Alexia is a Spanish citizen and she plays for Spain.In the last few years, these two clubs have been producing the World Footballer of the Year (Ballon d’Or). Not only that, one of them, Real Madrid is the richest. Lionel Messi took the laurel seven times while Ronaldo obtained that five times, all in Spain. Two players of the two selected teams, Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo were the discussion points every week after soccer competition up and until the last two seasons. They are at the moment, the most frequently discussed in the world in soccer excellence, even in contextualising talent and training. Manchester City’ Erling Haaland, et al are just emerging in the market.There are more wiz-kids even in Real Madrid at the moment.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 had always produced about 70 per cent of FIFA’s annual Best XI (Eleven Players in the world). The managers of these two clubs have always been high performing tacticians. The England’s real brand, Manchester United, once recruited Jose Mourinho as a manager. The story of the “special one” from Portugal’s F.C Porto through Inter Milan & Real Madrid to Chelsea is well known to followers of football. But it will be recalled that it was Mourinho that changed the fortune of Real Madrid in 2011-2013, when they defeated Barcelona before leaving for England. He also was part of restoration of glory to Chelsea. The one that has been associated with the phenomenal rise of Barcelona in recent time is Pep Guardiola. The man has been hired by Manchester City to change the face of football competition in England. Pep is doing just that! And when Manchester City hired Pep, Manchester United in the same city responded appropriately by hiring Mourinho, the manager Mike Carson, a management expert and author of ‘The Manager: Inside the Minds of Football’s Leaders’ calls “handler of outrageous talent”. Guardiola and Diego Maradona have gone on record as naming him (Mourinho) the world’s best coach, while Arrigo Sacchi of Italy has called him ‘phenomenal’. Instantly, that season attention shift to Manchester in England because of the presence of the world’s best football managers in the two clubs there. You can’t take excellence from critical factors of country or global competitiveness. I mean here that no analyst of football can just joke with the power, the glory and influence of La Liga in Spain.But the discussion point here will be on REAL MADRID, which I also wrote about here in 2017. This is not an expert’s opinion on football. I just want to discuss again the enterprise spirit in the investors at the Real Madrid within the context of strategic human resource management (SHRM) model that leaders can borrow from.Let’s read some notes on talent hunters. 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 as Grupo ACS, a civil engineering company. He is most famous for ushering in Real Madrid’s period of Los Galacticos, 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, Zinedine Zidane was 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 in June 2009 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. Real Madrid Club de Futbol is a Spanish professional association football club based in Madrid. The club was formed in 1902 as Madrid Football Club, and played its first competitive match on May 13, 1902 when it entered the semi-final of the Campeonato de Copa de S.M Alfonso  XIII. Real Madrid currently plays in the Spanish top-tier, La Liga having become one of the founding members of that league in 1929, and is one of three clubs, the others being Barcelona, and Athletic Bilbao to have never been relegated from the league. They have also been involved in European football ever since they became the first Spanish club to enter the European Cup in 1955, except for the 1977-78 and 1996-97 seasons. The club currently holds the record for the most European Cup/UEFA Champions League triumphs, with 14, and the most La Liga titles, with 35. Additionally, Real has won the Copa del Rey 19 times, the Supercopa  de Espana 12 times, the Copa de la Liga once, the Copa Eva Duarte once, the UEFA Cup twice, the European UEFA Super Cup five times, the International Cup three times and the FIFA Club World Cup four times. Powered by its fourteen European Cups, Real Madrid have a distinction of being the most successful club in terms of international titles, having amassed 28 pieces of silverware, more than any other team in the world. On the domestic front, its 68 titles rank second to Barcelona. The club’s record appearance maker is Raúl, who made 741 appearances from 1994 to 2010; the club’s record goals corer is Portuguese forward Christiano Ronaldo, who scored 450 goals in all competitions from 2009 to 2018. They are the current Champions of Europe and La Liga. 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 been doing. 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 Karim Benzema, et al who just delivered extraordinary results to Real Madrid.

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