Celebrity Leadership – Continued (J Terry & M Johnson)

(these are the personal views of John Knights)
Both John Terry and Martin Johnson have been in the news consistently recently. JT is the England football team captain and MJ the just resigned England Rugby Union team manager (and former captain of the world cup winning team in 2003).

Despite what you think of their respective ethics, both are warrior leaders. Warrior leaders are fine when you have a well drilled group that knows exactly what they need to do in a given situation. The role of the leader in that situation is to be a good example and to fire up the emotions, determination and self-belief when things are not going to plan.

Martin Johnson was great at that and could maybe even make the odd short term tactical decision. Leading an organisation in the 21st century is totally different. It is about pull-leadership not push-leadership. It is about creating a team that can excel when the leader (the manager) is not there. It is about being visionary and strategic. I don’t think Johnson ever had the kind of support he needed to help him become the right kind of leader – but maybe Johnson was not enlightened enough to realise he needed that help.

John Terry’s case is simpler. Is he a role model for the youth of the country who look up to the captain of England? If not, he should not be captain. Many a commentator says it is only his ability to lead the England football team that is important. In my view, the captain’s job as a role model is much more important. Surely the morals and attitude of the next generation are more important than whether we win the next match. We should perhaps be looking for the equivalent of a Sam Warburton (current captain of Wales Rugby Union side) who showed great humility when and after being sent off during the recent semi-final of the World Cup.
As Jim Collins says, “Intense Will (Drive) and Humility and the two greatest characteristics of the 21st century leader”. Let that be a first test for any future candidate to lead a national team.

John Knights

1 Response to “Celebrity Leadership – Continued (J Terry & M Johnson)”


  1. 1 Heather Katz 18/11/2011 at 12:56 pm

    Great points you make. I agree with you wholeheartedly.


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