Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel clash after the Premier League match between Chelsea and Tottenham (AFP via Getty Images)
When coaches can’t behave themselves, what precedent does that set for the team?
Tempers frayed when the referee, Anthony Taylor, didn’t allow for (or see) a foul on a Chelsea player Kai Havertz. But the crowd - and the players’ manager did see, leading to unrest on and off the pitch.
You’d think after both received a yellow card for the scuffle that would be the end of it wouldn’t you?
But no, it wasn’t over yet.
At the end of the game, when managers traditionally shake hands and move on, aggression once again took over for all the world to see. Both managers left the pitch with a red card.
That’s right, a red card.
Passion in any sport is understandable, but this is professional football in the Premier League – surely leading by example starts at the top?
This happens to be football, but we all know that managers (and coaches) everywhere are under some kind of spotlight. When a manager breaks the rules, it can send out a message, a message of acceptable behaviour for that team or at that company.
But two wrongs don’t make a right, so what would you do when faced with your own manager behaving out of order?
Here are a few things to consider:
Just because your boss does it, it doesn’t make it right
You could follow suit, but you’d also be in the wrong.
Yes, you could argue the toss about your manager doing it, but realistically, what good would that do? You’d be marked by the same (red) card.
The truth is managers make mistakes. Especially when under pressure. Yes, they should know better (and they should) but passion, frustration, fear, stress…. they all get in the way and take over when we lose control.
And they do get paid to manage and handle all of that, but, you know, it happens – and what they do next, is far more important. Reputation is built on how we come back from our mistakes.
So, observe, listen and in this case, don’t follow suit. You can do better.
Support your manager, but don’t agree
You’d expect your manager to support you if you’d dropped a clanger, or said something you wish you hadn’t, so assuming your manager is usually someone worth looking up to, it works both ways.
It’s a times like these when the real strength of a manager is shown by how much their team rallies around them when things go belly up. You might feel like keeping schtum and distancing yourself, but the best teams don’t do that – they close rank, stick together, and show their support for their boss.
That said, you can be honest with them in a one-to-one conversation, a good team is honest with one another. If your manager is a good egg and worthy of your support, they will have already realised their mistake and pledged not to do it again (Tuchel and Conte – take note).
Revisit your team standards
One moment of poor behaviour doesn’t reflect who you are as an individual or as a team, as long as you can come back from it well. How do you do that? Actions always speak louder than words – it’s all about what you show.
First though, it’s worth a team meeting to revisit your values, your standards and how you want to be seen. The best managers out there will want to instigate this proactively and behind closed doors. This is the time for everyone to air their views, say what has to be said and then draw a line under it
Following that, you show what kind of team you are – and your manager has an opportunity to prove any doubters wrong. The way to do this is by giving a top-notch performance and being the utmost professional.
We want to look up to our managers, we want good reasons for working hard for them and we want to feel confident that our boss is worth sticking with.
And in sport there are many thousands of young kids dreaming of one day being a footballer or a football manager. The stakes for coaches are high – and so they should be.
What if your manager’s behaviour doesn’t change?
Let’s be real, some people are repeat offenders. That includes managers too.
So, if your manager doesn’t attempt to recover from their shoddy behaviour or worse, doesn’t even try to, then you have a decision to make.
Either stay put and hope that your manager turns a corner (or gets the sack for their behaviour). Or leave.
OK, you might not be able to leave your job (or football club) immediately, but you can work on it.
Don’t allow your behaviour to suffer and keep your standards high – the stronger your performance is, the more chance you have of being snapped up by someone else.
Someone, that is, who works hard to earn your respect.
Tuchel and Conte’s red card behaviour will be seen (or read about) by other football coaches out there and no doubt will cause plenty of discussion. Let’s hope that lessons are learned and that managers in business and coaches in sport understand their responsibility.
All teams want to work for, or play for, someone they respect and someone who upholds the standards set by…the boss.
So, in football, when your team (and millions of others) are watching, brushing this ‘red card’ episode under the carpet isn’t good enough at this level.
It requires an outstanding performance – starting at the top.
You can listen to Amana on our self-improvement podcast series, The Reset Room.