Finding Balance


Sadly, we still live in a complicated world situation. The coronavirus doesn’t respect borders, neither in countries, nor regions, nor cities. It doesn’t differentiate between people, affecting everyone, including our athletes and the whole of the football community. Everything is changing, and football won’t be like how we knew it either, at least in the near future. The measures we’ve all undertaken are strict and affect everyone: confinement for several months, social distancing, masks, etc. The halt of activity in jobs is generating an unprecedented economic crisis, affecting not only our life in general, but also our sport, and in a serious way.

In sports, there’ll be many changes to protect the health of all participants: players, coaches, referees, auxiliary staff, etc. We already have examples of this from the first games that were played over the past weekend. Everyone is talking about lockdown, about distance between people and about the economy. As I’ve said before, the example of a football team and the concept of balance that we try to apply in the football teams that my team and I work at could show us a way out of the crisis.

I can think of some questions about the matter:

Could a balance in the implementation of the measures help us to improve our current situation?

When will lockdown end and at what point should the economy be taken into account?

What’s more important: saving lives or the economy? For me, in this aspect, there is no doubt: the lives of the people always come first.

Do we leave home and forget about this lockdown? Do we all go back to work and, to put it in football terms, 'play only on the offense' in the current situation? Or do we stay at home for longer, being more 'defensive and playing a counterattack', e.g. only returning to work when it is possible and doing so gradually?

I don't have the answers, I leave this to the health and political authorities, but as a manager, what I can say is that you must analyse every situation and have a plan. If you have goals that seem achievable, you can convince your team (in this metaphor, the team being the population) to believe in what you're trying to communicate to them because it makes sense, and then they'll follow you. This is how I try to present my ideas.

The balance must be between our actions, in this case the action of saving lives (the main goal), and the actions that can be taken to save the economy. A good leader is aware of all of this and tries to do everything with this necessary balance. I like to use this concept of balance as a key factor for the success of my teams. People often confuse having game plan, being organised and having a certain balance with taking a defensive approach, but actually it’s just the opposite. These concepts, along with having belief and maintaining intensity, are the way of leading you to success and to winning titles in football.

To continue using this football metaphor to illustrate the world situation, when talking about a football team (here the population), you must convince your players to believe in your project and then they’ll surely follow you. But in this worldwide metaphor has this belief been instilled? Have we managed to convince our team that the project (the measures taken) is what’s best for the group, what’s best for everyone? Again, balance is a keyword. When you ask your players for something, you must give them something in return: they have to understand that success can only be achieved through working together. You have to adapt your game plan to the circumstances, and explain it to your players in detail, telling them why they have to follow it. I think this is the right way to give them confidence. They’ll rely on you, and if they trust you, they’ll want to do as you ask, and you’ll have more options when it comes to achieving your goals. That is my experience.

If you want to maintain the economy whilst saving lives, you have to ask yourself: what have others done with the same resources (look at the information, the data)? Can you be clearer in how you explain things? Can you try to make jobs that can’t be done from home safer? Perhaps by having fewer workers in at one time, alternating workdays, or even leaving only one person per department? To reduce risks, one thing is clear: everyone has to wear face masks where possible, wash their hands, wear glasses, and maintain social distancing. In this way, the healthcare system can hopefully cope with the workload and treat infected patients in the best possible way.

As a manager, if you have ambition, you always want to build something better and reach the next level. It isn’t enough to simply get along with the players and give them some days off to keep them happy. You have to set new goals. If you want to win something, you need to find a balance. You have to be a friend, but at the same time be demanding, ask for intensity, you need to build a winning mind-set, by working hard and being clear with your instructions and the rules.

In these difficult, pandemic times, as a leader, like in management, you have to be clear and make logical decisions. The important thing is not to just make the popular decisions if those aren’t what benefits the population most. You also don’t want to just to try to make people think that you are right; you have to do what’s best for your country and for your people. It is your responsibility. It is important to think: how can you save lives and keep the country running? It is necessary to find a balance.

Stay safe, stay home.