Welcome back and happy New Year!

In my (not so) regular blogs I aim to reflect on what we can learn, or at least take reassurance, from events in the news.

There is of course a multitude of examples in the political world but I’m pretty sure most people have had their fill of Brexit related stories. Let’s instead return to the sporting arena and consider the travails of Manchester United.

Speaking as a lifelong Blue it’s been ‘interesting’ to study their decline under José Mourinho and startling to see their renaissance under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

What does this tell us about leadership? Mourinho is one of the most successful coaches in the history of the game but his tenure with clubs rarely lasts more than three years and often ends in acrimony. Solskjaer, on the other hand, has barely won a thing yet seems to have transformed the club and is currently enjoying a spell of six consecutive wins.

This made me reflect on the attention we pay to climate and culture in our schools. By design our leadership development and induction programmes include two key references.

Daniel Pink’s research on motivation that suggests drivers of motivation are:


Mastery, and


And Novak and Purkey’s Invitational Framework that suggests we can choose to communicate on a spectrum ranging from:


Respect, and




Contempt, and


Doesn’t that perfectly describe the approach of Ole vs José? By redefining the club’s vision and expectations and giving the players the autonomy to express themselves in a climate of trust, Solskjaer seems to have brought relief from Mourinho’s preference for the characteristics at the other end of the scale, with impressive results.

He’s not won anything yet and Mourinho will no doubt return and prove the theory wrong but I’ll take reassurance that our instincts, supported by academic evidence, will help us build a community of schools committed to the aim of creating the conditions for all our children, and staff, to flourish – as mirrored by United’s resurgence.

In the meantime… keep your eye on City. There is plenty we can learn a lot from Pep! (I can feel another column coming on).