I don’t want to go to Chelsea…

What do we do with staff who take the initiative?

I don’t want to check your pulse
I don’t want nobody else
I don’t want to go to Chelsea

So sang Elvis Costello and anyone contemplating a career in sports medicine observing the events at Stamford Bridge this week, could be forgiven for deciding they don’t want to go to Chelsea either.

Whilst the achievements of Mr Mourinho in a footballing context speak for themselves, the way in which he has demonstrated his brand of leadership, through publicly shaming team medics Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn,  leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.  It was one thing to publicly criticise their actions in deciding to run onto the pitch to attend to the “injured” player Eden Hazard (a £32m pound investment by the way) but his very public decision to relegate them from a position of authority from “the bench”, I would suggest, goes far beyond appropriate leadership behaviour.  In any other field of business this could put him in the frame for grievance or constructive dismissal. But this is football …

Clearly those staff members were acting on their initiative, within the bounds of their job description and the laws of the game. So what’s the problem?

Well this is a common leadership problem in any field, and as much as we talk about “empowerment” or “initiative” the main stumbling block is always ourselves, the leader. Because when we talk about those things we implicitly attach the caveat “as long as they do it right… my way”.

As Leaders we need to decide both how to reward initiative as well as deal with the fall out where staff actions have some unexpected consequences.  Wouldn’t it have been better for Mourinho to sit them down and say “I appreciate your speed and efficiency in dealing with the situation, however what we can’t have is to be left exposed during the game” and then move on?

Or perhaps I am being “naive”, the word Mr Mourinho used so publicly in criticising his staff.

3 Questions  for Leaders:

  • How do you reward initiative?
  • How clearly do you define limits of authority?
  • How will you respond if initiative creates unexpected  consequences?


Posted by John Drysdale
14th August 2015
John's Blog


New Projects for Summer/Autumn 2018

It has been a really rewarding couple of weeks here at No Guru with new work and wonderful new clients added to our portfolio.

This week we met with the Senior Team at Irwell Valley Homes who have commissioned a project in support of their new brand. (more…)

No Guru now working with University of Huddersfield

Quarter 1 has started off with brilliant news, a newly commissioned programme of delivery for the University of Huddersfield to deliver ‘Strategic Thinking in Higher Education’ as part of an ambitious programme of development for Senior Managers. This leads to a recognised qualification from the Chartered Management Institute.  Head of Staff Development, Daniel Benton explains (more…)

Coaching for Results: Event with Professional Liverpool

We are delighted to be partnering with Professional Liverpool to deliver a FREE seminar on Monday 5th March (3pm to 5pm).

This explores the role of Coaching (and Mentoring) in helping staff deliver business results.  The session will be run by John Drysdale and will be a chance to find out how you can coach more effectively and perhaps consider a role in Coaching and Mentoring through our ILM Programmes.

To reserve your place click here. (more…)


John's Blog

The Immortal Memory: Robert Burns

Address to The Liverpool Athenaeum  2nd February 2018

I was delighted to be asked by club President Sir David Maddison to deliver The Immortal Memory at The Athenaeum Burns evening which I attended with my wife Fiona. This is a huge honour for any Scot and I hope I did it justice.  Burns provides such a rich tapestry I found it a real challenge to be succint and speak in a way that would connect with the audience – I chose to set Burns against the universal themes we recognise today and in the challenges we face in uncertain times.  I hope you enjoy it.   JD


The Immortal Memory – Robert Burns 1759-1796

The Athenaeum 2nd Feb 2018

President, ladies and gentlemen, fellow proprietors and distinguished guests.  I am honoured to propose the Immortal Memory this evening.

To one Robert Burns who lived between 1759 and 1796.


Image Triage – be careful what you post

How to avoid public ‘shaming’

If you’ve ever read Jon Ronson’s book ‘Shamed’, you will know the devastating effect social media can have on people who have posted something stupid on the internet.

Ronson highlights the case of Justine Sacco (a director of corporate communications) who, before boarding an 11-hour flight from Heathrow to Cape Town, Tweeted to her 170 followers what she thought was a series of lighthearted, acerbic comments about her journey. (more…)

Across the great divide

Reworking of an earlier blog of mine, marking the 50th Anniversaries of the deaths of Martin Luther King (4/4/68) and Robert F Kennedy (6/6/68)

Let’s be kinder to each other 

There is a striking memorial in a park in Indianapolis.  It marks the spot where, in April 1968, Robert Kennedy told a waiting crowd that Martin Luther King had been shot and killed, before speaking from the heart and his own personal experience, that violence is never an answer to our grievances.  His calming words quelled the rioting that other cities endured in the days after Dr King’s death and, arguably, saved some lives that night.


The memorial itself is an arresting work of art.  (more…)