Five leadership lessons to learn from Fabio Capello's disastrous World Cup campaign

Strategy
Capello has been criticised for fielding certain players out-of-position and refusing to shift from a solid 4-4-2 formation or name his line-ups more than two hours before kick-off. Having a clear plan and the confidence to keep to it when others lose their heads and call for change is definitely a trait of a strong leader, but in turn there's no point sticking to a strategy that isn't working.
Likewise your strategy needs to be viable. If you don't have the resources to execute a certain plan or model, you have to work with what you've got - and your team is your most valuable resource. Ensure you've got the right people for the job and create a system that maximises their potential. Here's some advice on recruitment from Dominic Monkhouse.

Preparation
Capello put his team through rigorous training in high altitude locations to prepare them for the World Cup. He also ensured the England side had a camp equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. Capello showed his players videos of upcoming opponents, identifying both team and individual roles. All the reports suggest the side were perfectly prepared - which makes their performances even more baffling. Your job as a manager is to get the best out of your staff, providing them with the tools, environment and training they need to deliver the results you want. As Capello found out, nothing guarantees success but the more you prepare the right conditions for success the more likely you are to achieve it. Investing in your people also breeds loyalty.

Discipline
Capello places a great deal of focus on discipline. By locking his team away in a hotel and forbidding the infamous WAGs to attend games, he earned the nickname 'The Squadfather'. There were plenty of whispers of dissatisfaction inside the camp with reports the players were bored (and so unmotivated) and that rather than earn respect, Capello's hard-line approach had bred resentment and fear. Discipline is required within a business, but don't go overboard. Punishing failure must go hand-in-hand with rewarding achievement, and you must be seen to be fair and logical.

Motivation and man management
How England's top stars could perform so badly has led to fresh scrutiny of Capello's motivational and man management skills. Did he distance himself too far from players? David James says Capello didn't even call him by his name, simply 'goalkeeper'. Like it or not, was that the best tactic for motivating our pampered millionaires?

The simplest way to motivate your team is to make them feel included. Share your vision with them, let them contribute ideas. Then offer incentives based on agreed targets and create a level playing field where, while you're firmly in charge and everyone is accountable, you're pushing in the same direction - not against one another. This guide discusses the importance of motivating your staff. Outside of the 'team' appreciate that individuals will be motivated by different incentives - get close to your people and find out what drives them.

Communication and flexibility
In the aftermath of the World Cup, Capello was dubbed stubborn and a poor communicator. Yet prior to the competition, his direct and aloof approach was billed as that of a natural leader concerned about nothing else but getting his message across and delivering results. So where now for Capello? In the build-up to the Slovenia game he changed his usual preparation plans, allowing the players to drink beer during the previous afternoon - something he was sure to pass on the press after England's only victory. Capello has also taken accountability for England's performances, apologised and pledged to improve performances in the future. Admitting when you've made mistakes and being open enough to take on feedback is essential as a leader. Time will tell if he continues to do so and can repair both England's reputation on the international stage and his own as a master tactician and esteemed leader.

We use cookies to create the most secure and effective website possible for our customers. Full details can be found here