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Managerial Styles in Education


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Brian Clough died yesterday. Newspaper today claimed that he was the most outstanding football manager in British history. A lot has been made of his managerial techniques. He was well known for his socialist beliefs. He told one interviewer that this had been an important factor in his success. He believed that all players should be treated the same. He boasted how he made the player who cost the most money make the tea for the others.

Clough was a great believer in education. He enrolled his players on Open University courses and insisted that when on the coach travelling to away games, the radio was always tuned to BBC Radio 4. They all had to have short hair. On the night that Nottingham Forest won the European Cup, they were late in arriving because Clough sent one of his players back to the hotel to have a shave.

He was a strict disciplinarian. His players were fined if they argued with referees. They suffered a physical assault if they argued with him. He took average players and put them together to produce outstanding teams. Clough is seen as an example of the success of the authoritarian managerial style.

However, the truth is far more complex than that. Clough only had success when he had Peter Taylor as his assistant. Clough was only a third choice centre forward when he met Taylor at Middlesbrough. Taylor was coming to the end of his playing days whereas Clough was at the beginning of his career. Taylor saw something special in Clough. Like all great teachers, gave Clough confidence in himself. Clough went on to be a great player and believed that Taylor played an important role in this. Clough also adopted Taylor’s politics.

When Clough became manager he immediately appointed Taylor as his assistant. In many ways Taylor was the real manager. He decided on which players to buy and took care of the coaching. He also had a major say in picking the team. However, it was always Clough who gave the interviews. Taylor’s managerial style was completely different from that of Clough. He treated the players in the same way that he had treated Clough.

The two men eventually argued and parted. That was the end of Clough’s success as manager. He started drinking and by the time he left the game at 59 he was an alcoholic. Clough never forgave Taylor for leaving him and even refused to attend his funeral.

This story raises issues about the best method to get the best out of people. Do you scare them into performing well. Or do you like Taylor, spend your time encouraging people to believe in themselves?

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This story raises issues about the best method to get the best out of people. Do you scare them into performing well. Or do you like Taylor, spend your time encouraging people to believe in themselves?

I think it is a balance between the two. You need to be scary enough to inspaire respect and show that you mean business and you are not a pushover, but also you must recognise achievement and celebrate it. This is very valid for teenagers who very often suffer from an overgrown apparent confidence and cockiness coupled with deep-rooted low self-esteem which manifest itself in the former. This is the fascinating machinery of the human psyche...

This is very good to know all that but how do we put it into practise? When do w know that we are 'well-balanced'? How can we be sure that cockiness isn't just arrogance or low self-esteem a front for attention seeking?

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