Dodge The Mourinho Trap Says Vusi Thembekwayo

Dodge The Mourinho Trap Says Vusi Thembekwayo


The firing and replacing of José Mourinho by Chelsea was a shock of epic proportions. Fans were disgusted at the behaviour of the players. The league administrators were concerned at the legal precedence this set.

Mourinho himself, whilst mum, was visibly distraught. ‘The great one’ was clearly shocked at the decision. How often have you seen, heard of or even experienced the situation where an entrepreneur has a strong relationship with a client, but battles to get buy-in from employees?

Over the past decade we have been bombarded with the line that says “what you need to succeed in business is simply strong client relations.” This approach is not only dangerous, but strategically dumb as well.

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José Mourinho surely did not think it possible that the day would ever come when his own club would fire him. His emotional connection and legendary status made it even more improbable that things would end as they did.

Week after week, game after game, we stared with disbelief at the behaviour of the Chelsea players toward their coach. Deliberate misses, poor passes, collapsed defence, non-aligned midfield – all this a recipe for disaster.

  • How often does this happen in your own business?
  • How many times have you had your staff acting in a manner that is not consistent with your corporate goals?
  • Do they treat customers the way you would like them to?
  • Do they represent the business in a way you agree with?
  • How can you stop inappropriate behaviour towards you or your clients?

1. Act quickly against misbehaviour

When people act against the business, or against you as the leader, you have a responsibility to act against them.

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Very important, given South Africa’s labour laws, is to have policies and procedures in place to ensure that you aren’t caught on the wrong side of the law. When people act in a manner that is inconsistent with the behaviour you want, act against them. Don’t hesitate. Act quickly.

2. Reward positive behaviour

When people do what you want, reward them. Build a system that consistently rewards your people to act in a particular manner. Sell ‘X’ to customer ‘Y’ and you will get ‘Z’. Make the system clear and easy to understand. Once the system is in place, track performance accurately. Be consistent and ruthless in your measurement of the behaviours that you want.

Spend some time with your customers. You hire people to do the things you simply don’t have the time to do, which means your employees are an extension of you and act on your behalf in your absence.

Make sure that you stay close to your customers. Talk to them. If there is something happening that shouldn’t be happening, they will tell you swiftly enough.

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3. Celebrate the right result

Make sure that when the team gets the result right, you shout about it. Make a noise about it. What you reward, people will repeat. What you celebrate, reinforces your values.

Think very clearly about how you can avoid falling into the same trap as Mourinho. Your employees can scuttle your business. Don’t spend all your time focusing on the relationship you have with your clients. The relationships inside your own operation is just as important.

Vusi Thembekwayo
Mr. Vusi Thembekwayo has been an Independent Non-Executive Director of at RBA Holdings Ltd. since May 14, 2013. Mr. Thembekwayo has already collected numerous accolades and awards as businessperson, entrepreneur and international public speaker. Mr. Thembekwayo completed a PDBA and a course on advanced valuation techniques with the Gordon Institute of Business Science and completed a Management Acceleration Programme (Cum Laude) with the Wits Business School. His speaking achievements include the international hit talk “The Black Sheep” which he delivered to the Top 40 CEOs in Southern Africa, addressing the Australian Houses of Parliament and speaking at the British House of Commons. To add to this, Vusi speaks in 4 of the 7 continents over 350 000 people each year.

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