Juan de la Cruz Ramos Cano, aka Juande, is a coach with a solid track record. He has gone from humble beginnings to coaching great teams such as Real Madrid. Above all, he has shown he is capable of rescuing sinking ships: under his leadership, Tottenham Hotspurs went from relegation to win the Carling Cup, England’s equivalent of Spain’s Copa del Rey.
It is this skill that has attracted the interest of psychologist José Carrascosa, journalist Yolanda Damià, IESE Prof. Kimio Kase, and Ignacio Urrutia of Antonio de Nebrija University. In their book, Organizational Change: The Juande Method, they explain the techniques that Juande employs and apply his management philosophy to the business world.
Using the cases of Carlos Ghosn of Nissan/Renault and Samuel Doria Medina of Soboce in Bolivia, the authors identify a change-management model, which they say fits with that of Juande.
Coach and CEO: Not So Different
A coach, like a CEO, is under great pressure. Both are judged according to their performance. In soccer, this is measured on a game by game basis, and a coach who has a bad run is soon fired. A coach also has to deal with a workforce that is relatively immune to taking orders, because players often earn more than the coach and are the team’s most prized asset. Rather than give orders, the coach must exert influence; he must convince and persuade in order to become a leader. The same goes for a CEO: a company is too large for any one single person to control; the CEO must delegate and inspire others to do their jobs well.
In general, when a team changes its coach, it does so because things were not going too well. Such is also the case with executives who are called in to rescue companies. Both jobs require a quick diagnosis, the establishment of a strategy and the creation of a team that can be trusted. Both the coach and the CEO must also identify people who can become what amount to evangelists, preaching management’s message. Above all, they must score some early victories, producing solid initial results that strengthen their position, and overcome resistance to change.
The Juande Method
When Juande takes over a team, he bases his approach on three pillars. The first is that he strives to win. That might seem obvious, but most people in his position only think about not losing. They do not enjoy their work, because they are obsessed with results. This stress is passed on to the team, which suffers from fits of anger, infighting and the worry that is transmitted by the coach. Those who aim for victory, on the other hand, are full of hope and ambition, and are able to overcome any adversity. In fact, they like having much demanded of them. They project an air of confidence and calm.
The second pillar is that the team takes precedence over individual egos. Juande applies this to himself as much as others. That means the team comes first, preventing anyone from acting against it, shunning controversy and excessive praise.
Finally, Juande prefers trust over obligation. Many coaches use expressions like “winning is a must” or “win, no matter what.” This conjures up urgency and pressure, and exaggerates the consequences of victory and defeat. Juande’s approach, on the other hand, involves creating an atmosphere of dedication – one that encourages players to do their best.
Keeping All Facets Flowing
This top level of performance can be achieved only by pushing lots of buttons at the same time. First, the coach or business executive must surround him or herself with a multifaceted team: no one person can dominate in all areas. That’s what specialists are for. For instance, Juande works with a sports psychologist because he feels it is essential to have a specialist manage his players’ moods. In the same way, he never delves into areas he does not know well: he knows and accepts his limitations.
Another key is internal communication. As we have already said, Juande prefers to persuade rather than give orders. He does his convincing through dialogue, but in a carefully studied way. The main thing is not to talk too much. He never stretches his speeches out more than than he needs to. If he did, they would be useless sermons. He also finds time to speak with each player, so they know what they are doing right and wrong. He never lies, and everybody appreciates that.
Naturally, this positive mood is also built by creating a good atmosphere in which people can joke around. But conflict management is just as important, if not more so, because when clashes are resolved, it makes the whole group stronger. For this reason, Juande evaluates whether he needs to intervene in a given conflict. And if he does step in, he does not personalize the problem. Rather, he uses it to educate the whole team.
The Value of Working Hard Every Day
Juande’s training sessions always involve actually playing with the ball, which is more entertaining for the players, and at the same time, they are always being competitive. He also stresses working hard day in, day out, and does not want his people to give their best only when they play. He sees competition as a question of routine. A player who competes constantly is the one who, in the end, will prevail over rivals.
It does not matter if some players need more moral support or more attention from the coach. Nor is it a problem if some members of the team prefer to have a bit more freedom. In the end, the requirements of the sport even them all out, so there are no differences. This concept of work is the foundation of the Juande method. It instills in his team the certainty that they can beat anybody, no matter how good they might be, if they work harder and better.
Obviously, professional sports are governed by rules that set them apart from the business world in an overall sense. However, an approach like the one studied in this book can guide executives along a path full of success.