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Carlo Ancelotti – Top 5 Leadership Insights

Posted on June 1st, 2016

1. ‘Servant Leadership’

I have been asked several times to describe Carlo’s leadership style. I would say it is more ‘servant leadership’ or better put, to lead the people around him through great insight and experience, but doing so from behind. He allows people to have opinions and feel as though they are designing both the vision and the strategy. Therefore when it comes to execution people feel as though they own a part of the process and ultimately by default a greater sense of responsibility and commitment to Carlo. This engenders an ‘Adult – Adult’ environment where people are expected and seek responsibility and accountability.

2. Humility & Will to Win

When you meet Carlo for the first time what is so striking is his humility. Here is a guy who has won everything as a player and now as a coach and yet when YOU begin to talk he is the first one to lean in and listen. No interruptions, no outbursts, just a very calm and very considered guy. People enjoy talking with him and therefore feel comfortable volunteering personal information about themselves, which no doubt helps him manage them and the situation with a lot less conflict and stress. In addition, when you get to know him and see him work up close you quickly realize the flip side of his personality ‘coin’ is an unbelievable professionalism and ‘will to win’. He doesn’t put it out there first but you see that it is this that makes people respect him so much.

3. Take the Situation Seriously …… but NOT Yourself

Elite sport at the very top is a constant, daily pressure. There are no small games and every moment and decision matters. In this environment it is easy to take the situation too seriously and more importantly yourself. Carlo has a great ability to hold that pressure internally yet protect the energy and motivation of the people around him by not transferring it to them. I think this comes from his background and upbringing and the conscious decision not to take himself too seriously.

4. Alignment of Purpose & People

It is easy in any fast moving and dynamic environment to lose sight – often through no fault of the individual – of the sense of purpose and where people fit into the process. Carlo has a very strong, inbuilt ability to have a strong sense of the big picture (be it in player fatigue management over the course of a season or in-game management of high pressure Champions League matches). His ability to take a daily pulse on the physical, mental and emotional energy levels of people and align them with the groups daily needs as well as the teams over-arching season objectives was impressive to observe. His ability to ‘stay in the moment’ with individuals gave him the space paradoxically to think about and prepare for the bigger picture.

5. Adaptability

In any heavily results-dependent industry it is easy to decide on a set model of operating along with a concise and well thought through strategy and set of tactics and irrespective of circumstances push on and try to execute this. With Carlo what makes him unique is DESPITE his success and irrespective of ways in which he has been successful in the past there is a part of him that is always ready to learn and adapt to new ideas and ways of working. Everywhere he has been he has been successful but everywhere he has worked he has had a part of his model that is truly adaptable to the environment, organization, culture and type of players he has inherited. This takes humility, intelligence, a strong ‘will to win’ and the belief it takes everyone and everything to be successful.

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