Every successful leader has to be ruthless. That’s the nature of the job.
They have to make decisions which the average man would balk at. They have to make choices which impact on others without paying heed to what those others might think or want or need.
One of the great misconceptions about leadership is that a leader has to be a piece of shit.
A lot of people who think they are leaders rule by instilling fear.
As any psychologist will tell you, that’s not a tool of leadership at all. Rule by fear is problematic because it eliminates respect, which is one of the real requirements of those who seek those positions.
For some reason, the idea that Good Guys Finish Last remains prevalent in business, politics and other fields filled with petty kings and tyrants.
I’ve worked under those people and I can assure you that there is less work done under them, less productivity and nobody wants to do them any favours. I’ve also worked under people who give you support, encouragement and honour the work you do.
They are the people you will run through walls for.
Ange Postecoglou has to make tough choices, but he doesn’t see any need to be a difficult man. He inspires with warmth and intelligence and this approach inspires respect.
He’s also capable of being ruthless, though, and will not suffer fools.
Just because you’re a Good Guy nobody should mistake you for a soft touch.
Anyone who made that mistake with Ange would have got a shock.
I think at least one player did, and he never kicked a ball for us prior to being shipped out.
The manager didn’t make a song and dance out of it, he just purged him from any involvement in the squad and got shot of him quick.
When you look at how guys like Edouard and Ntcham and Griffiths were given a chance under the manager, it’s obvious that Ajer did something he found unacceptable.
We never got to know what it was, and the manager never expressly singled him out. He just didn’t involve him in the first team, not at all. That would have sent a clear message to the rest.
So it must have been obvious, inside the club, that Ange was the Real Deal fairly early.
When did the rest of us start to get it?
It didn’t take long.
His first appearances in front of the media were a sure sign that he wasn’t going to take any nonsense. The way he pushed back against them and stuck to his guns on key decisions, when they were being questioned, is another.
The way he fights for his players and defends them is the stuff of which great leaders is made. The slight distance he maintains from them, which makes it easier to take those tough decisions, shows that he is well aware that clear lines have to be drawn … and he’s not afraid to draw them.
And for all that, he remains likeable and the players are fully behind him.
The media had hoped that his geniality and warmth were a sign that he could be pushed around.
What fools they were.
Even now, when it is obvious that he talks as straight as anyone who’s ever sat in the manager’s chair at Celtic, they try to second guess him and turn his words around … how many times must they learn to simply listen to what he says?
Ange is a winner. Not only here but everywhere he’s been.
He is now a trophy winning manager in three different countries; that’s the mark of a true talent.
Now, nobody, not even his fiercest critics, not even the Ibrox illiterati, can possibly deny it.
Ange has a combination of the best qualities of our previous title winning bosses, but the mix is different from any of them who have come before.
He has none of the arrogance and snark of Lennon, none of the bloated ego of Rodgers, he is more respected than Ronny was – and I think that’s to the eternal shame of some who played under the Norwegian. He has the respect for the fans which Strachan never even tried to muster.
In some ways he’s most like Martin O’Neill, who’s good humour, generosity and kindness could easily have been mistaken for weakness if you didn’t know that he had learned his trade under Brian Clough and won things at unfancied clubs.
But Martin O’Neill had advantages.
His success in England won him the automatic respect of the press and the players.
Ange arrived with all the disadvantages Ronny had before him; his successes had come in what some considered a backwater. He had never managed in Europe. The players were unaware of his reputation … he had a Hell of job to win people over.
Not only has he done it, but he’s done it by never compromising who he is.
He will not kiss up or punch down.
He will not patronise nor try to ingratiate.
He stays who he is, and that’s impressive because of who he is; a good and decent man who deserves his success.
The Good Guys don’t always finish last.
In fact, some of them go on to become the kind of success stories that others can aspire to. Ange Postecoglou is not only striking out on behalf of his part of the world; he’s a role model for Good Guys everywhere.
He’s everything that a modern leader ought to be.