Roy Hodgson or Harry Redknapp? The FA indicates that it has solved a dilemma

April 30, 2012

An FA statement indicates that it is preparing to approach Roy Hodgson for the vacant post of England team manager. But have they solved their dilemma?

Updated post after appointment of Roy Hodgson [1st May 2012]

A terse announcement from the Football Association [29th April 2012] triggered speculation concerning the appointment of a new manager for the England Football team. The story may not be as simple as that.

The FA statement

West Bromwich Albion have today granted permission for The FA to speak with Roy Hodgson regarding the position of England Manager. This follows an approach from FA Chairman David Bernstein to West Bromwich Albion Chairman Jeremy Peace.

David Bernstein said: “I’m grateful to Jeremy and all at West Bromwich Albion for their co-operation in allowing us to approach Roy, who I have since spoken with. Roy is the only manager we have approached and we remain on course to make an appointment within the timescale we set-out soon after Fabio Capello’s departure. Further conversations will now take place with Roy and my Club England colleagues before any further announcements can be made.”

The Daily Mirror called it a surprise move. The Mail “an astonishing decision”.

Harry Redknapp, The Tottenham Hotspur manager, has been a strong favourite and would have been a popular appointment.

Dilemmas in the appointment process

The FA received considerable criticism over the way the appointment of the last England manager, the Italian Fabio Capello. As is inevitably the case, there were difficulties of timing then, as now. This track record of presumed bungling may have added to the concern in the FA to avoid accusations of bad timing again. Rednapp’s team is intensely engaged in a battle to secure a place in the European Cup competition next season, while Hodgson’s West Ham may be considered as having a less-focussed immediate concerns (although their fans may disagree).

The dilemma may have been how to address an overriding concern of the FA to make an appointment without drawing attention to possible bungling in the process. If so, initial reactions suggest they have not achived public support for their choice.

The Official announcement

The Press Conference [May 1st 2012] announcing the appointment and also revealed to FA’s official position. As the Press Release put it:

“Hodgson, aged 64, who has won a total of eight league titles in a distinguished career, and coached the national teams of Switzerland, Finland and the United Arab Emirates, met with FA officials at Wembley on Monday.

Having taken Switzerland to the FIFA World Cup in 1994 – their first Finals competition for 28 years – Hodgson also achieved [for Switzerland] a FIFA ranking of third in the world as well as successfully qualifying the team for Euro 96.

His former clubs include Inter Milan, Blackburn Rovers, Grasshoppers, FC Copenhagen, Fulham and Liverpool. He has also managed in Norway and Sweden. In addition, he has been a regular member of FIFA and UEFA’s technical study groups at tournaments.

Along with his vast experience of international and European football, Hodgson is the only English manager currently working in the top flight to have won the League Managers’ Association manager of the year award.”

What can we interpret from the statement?

There is a lot of evidence presented by the FA which indicateds why Roy Hodgson can be considered a strong candidate for the post. The unwritten information is what made the media find the decision such an unexpected one. Why was there such a widespread belief that Harry Redknapp was the front-runner? Suggestions welcomed.

Platforms of Understanding and the resolution of leadership dilemmas

April 27, 2012

Research Note by Tudor Rickards

The concept of a platform of understanding can make a contribution to reflective analysis of leadership decisions and dilemmas. We examine the discussion through a case example within a radio call-in programme mediated by Victoria Derbyshire

This research note is primarily a technical one for leadership students, although I hope it may be of interest to a broader audience interested in social influence processes.

Making sense of business stories

Students studying the text-book Dilemmas of Leadership are encouraged to make sense of business stories and discussions. One of the approaches involves identifying belief systems which are described as platforms of understanding.

An example illustrating the Platform of Understanding concept

Recently [April 27th, 2012] I was trying to understand an argument being put forward in a broadcast discussion about the current industrial dispute in the UK between tanker drivers and their employers. The discussion took place in a BBC Five live radio programme which included texts, emails and and calls from listeners.

“Making your point” suggests a personal Platform of Understanding

Call-in programmes often encourage callers to “make your point”. A “point” may be examined as an expression of a personal set of beliefs and assertions. In the programme, the callers provided two opposing platforms of understanding.

One view was various variations of the same basic “point” that the tanker drivers were entitled to strike. The opposing view rejected the first perspective. Variations arose from different understanding of the “why” of the potential strike.

The advocates of the opposing POUs had no way of engaging with those of the opposing perspective, nor ways of influencing them to their point of view. The discussion (when left unmediated) was going nowhere.

How dilemmas may be suggested by studying opposing beliefs

In this case, the opposing perspectives may be seen as something along the lines of

[1] “rights of workers” (a platform of understanding)
[2] “social/economic perils of conceding to the claims of the worker’s demands” (opposing platform of understanding).

Creative leadership

A skilled presenter is able to encourage the discussion beyond what would otherwise be irreconcilable positions (although sometimes there may be a conscious choice to “let the people speak” and demonstrate the lack of a simple solution to the dilemma). This has been described as a form of creative and facilitative leadership.

The presenter, Victoria Derbyshire, was able to clarify factually incorrect aspects of assertions being made, and help move to a discussion of the broader dilemmas of workers’ rights and economic well-being, without reducing the discussion to right-wrong point scoring.

More speculative “map-making”

I have outlined a few general points which show how looking for platforms of understanding helps in making sense of arguments and disputes. These ideas may be extended to more speculative ideas which are my own particular musings and map-making from the case example.

There is much to be gained for examining platforms of understanding. The process reveals how two platforms of understanding may construct a shared platform of misunderstanding It also shows how over-rigid adherence to personal platforms of understanding reinforces difficulties in dealing with the dilemmas which are in partly socially constructed from such rigidities. Finally it increases the claims that dilemmas can be helpfully addressed through creative leadership.

News International Update

April 25, 2012

The fate of Rupert Murdoch’s business empire continues to attract attention globally. Leaders we deserve is providing regular updates, as the Leveson Enquiry in the UK into Government and news media relations continues


This post will be updated regularly. Earlier LWD posts include:

The Murdoch meltdown
The closure of The News of the World
The business model of Rupert Murdoch

May 12th

Leveson enquiry continues to attract media attention with Rebekah Brooks, the former Sun editor, taking the stand at the Leveson enquiry. The BBC asks whether she have been treated differently if she had she been a “grumpy old man of Fleet Street”

Her testimony suggests that the Government will face more political problems from the stories produced through the enquiry which was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron. These appear to leave the spotlight on culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, as well as Mr Cameron’s own relationship with the former Sun editor.

May 10th

Selective amnesia and his status as someone on bail in connection with phone hacking hinder evidence to Leveson from Andy Coulson

Independent newspaper suggests Coulson’s evidence ‘leaves toughest questions at Prime Minister’s door’.

Personal view [TR notes for LWD]:

Coulson at times showed a grasp of the unspoken implications of questioning as well as more generally as someone thoroughly cautious and well-prepared with a few key points to make (no conspiracy; was not hired to influence Robert Murdoch’s political decisions.

May 9th

Story picks up as Leveson enquiry resumes. David Cameron’s closeness to Rebekah Brooks is not particularly new.

May 3rd 2012

BskyB distances itself from its major shareholder News Corporation in a statement from its chief executive Jeremy Darroch.

May 2nd 2012

Select committee finds Rupert Murdoch unfit to run News International. James Murdoch is also severely criticised.

Committee appears to have exceeded its brief, particularly with the most damning criticism, where voting occurred along partisan lines.

The Washington Post notes:

The parliamentary report issued Tuesday [Ist May 2012] was far harsher than most British observers had expected. It was approved by a 6 to 4 vote, with the four members from Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party staunchly objecting to the description of Murdoch as an unfit proprietor.

April 30th

The former First Minister of Scotland Jack McConnell reported as political target of phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch’s News International.

Jeremy Hunt ‘On probation’ by Prime Minister’s statement.

April 29th

Telegraph reports Cameron could fire Hunt if new evidence emerges.

April 28th

Leveson rejects Government plans to review Jeremy Hunt’s conduct over BSkyB bid saying “It’s not my problem”

April 27th

The Guardian: Rupert Murdoch’s evidence to the Leveson inquiry was like one of his tabloids: a lively mixture of accurate and inaccurate reporting, one-eyed comment and total fantasy.

Sky News, itself part of the story reports on Simon Hughes’ call for an investigation into Jeremy Hunt’s conduct during BskyB takeover bid.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that George Osborne is facing questions over whether he was lobbied by Rupert Murdoch and played a role in supporting News Corp’s attempted £8bn takeover of BSkyB.

April 26th Murdoch

Two inter-related stories today. In Parliament, Jeremy Hunt defended his ‘quasi-judicial’ role in the BskyB bid by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Mr Murdoch appears before the Leveson enquiry into Media ethics.

The BBC reports Rupert Murdoch’s witness statement

The Independent sees the Jeremy Hunt story as “a toxic trail” leading from Jeremy Hunt to the Prime Minister’s involvement in the Murdoch bid for B Sky B.

The Scotsman: Cameron admits “we all did too much cosying up” to The Murdochs.

April 25th 2012

The BBC continues its reporting of the Leveson enquiry with a ‘What the papers say’ review.

The Daily Telegraph examines the testimony of James Murdoch [24th April 2012] to the enquiry concluding that the Government’s relations with the Murdochs are coming under close scrutiny and ‘revealing a lack of candour’

The Guardian focuses on another close political relationship: between Rupert Murdoch and Alex Salmond

April 23rd 2012

Lord Patten tells Leveson enquiry:

Plainly, Mr Murdoch took the view that publishing a book which was critical of the Chinese leadership would not improve his chances [of expanding his business interests in China] , so he instructed HarperCollins to drop the book on the grounds that [the book] was no good”.


Image of Rupert Murdoch is from

Donald Trump’s Love-affair with Scottish Golf Courses takes a blow

April 24, 2012

Donald Trump American entrepreneur, TV reality show star, and wannabe Presidential candidate is a golf enthusiast who has invested heavily in the leisure industry of Scotland. But he appears to be having a tiff with Scottish politicians

Mr Trump claims that Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond had reassured him that proposals to build an off-shore wind farm close to his championship golf course would never win political approval.

The betrayal

But yesterday, [April 23rd 2012] according to the Scotsman:

Mr Trump said: “I feel totally betrayed and lied to by the Scottish Government. I was really misled and mistreated.”
The tycoon made it clear that, should the wind farm get the go-ahead, then the Menie [Aberdeenshire] development would end once the course is opened and construction on the planned clubhouse is completed. It will be a golf course and it will be a beautiful clubhouse and that will be it. That’s not what I want. We have a concept for a hotel which will blow everyone’s minds but I can’t have a hotel looking into those windmills.”

Another account of the turbulent meeting can be found in the Guardian.

Leaders we deserve have followed the Scottish business activities of Mr Trump for several years. His business style seems to have contributed to problems in implementing some of his cherished visions.

In 2010 we reported The Independent as saying:

The billionaire Donald Trump last week clashed with protesters opposed to his controversial plans to build the “world’s greatest golf course” near Aberdeen. Quarry worker Michael Forbes, who is refusing to sell his property which adjoins the £750m scheme, claims Mr Trump’s workers unlawfully annexed his land. The clash is the latest skirmish in an increasingly bitter battle to prevent Mr Trump from developing the site. More than 7,000 local people have signed up to join the “bunker”, co-owners of an acre of land sold by Mr Forbes [a local land-owner] to disrupt the US tycoon’s plans. The philanthropist and co-founder of the Body Shop (Gordon Roddick) and Green MP Caroline Lucas are the latest to join the campaign.

Wind Farms OK, Donald Trump not OK?

It will be interesting to see whether Mr Trump is succeeding in his dilemma of winning over regional opposition to his business interests while achieving his business goals.


Image from Ecohooks website and the pithily titled post: Donald Trump Pissed about Offshore Wind Farms

Bloodshed in Bahrain: Bernie Eccleston is not quite the Rupert Murdoch of Global Sport

April 22, 2012

The Formula one race in Bahrain has once again brought its chairman Bernie Eccleston into the limelight. We look briefly at his entrepreneurial credentials

The British president and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration is generally regarded as most powerful influence in Formula 1 racing. He retains dominance into his 80s. He has also attracted controversy over alleged illegal political influence.

Former Motor racing competitor.

Forbes addresses the perennially interesting question ‘how did he get as rich as he is?’ revealing a well-beaten path to success for entrepreneurs. Much has been written about entrepreneurs compensating for early-life experiences, and of being motivated to overcome turning possible disadvantageous factors. Factors include a hobby (motor bikes) which turned into a profit (motor bike parts) and later through a personal network in motor cycling and racing where street-smarts prevailed.

A diminutive former car salesman

A diminutive former car salesman, Bernie Ecclestone raced into the billionaire ranks in 2005 after selling stakes in Formula One Group for $2.5 billion. After failing to qualify as a Formula One race driver, he bought a team and brokered a complex series of contracts and TV deals for other F1 teams, taking over most rights in 1997, and turning F1 into a lucrative global franchise. He then began selling the sport’s commercial rights to TV broadcasters, which eventually brought him billions.

Attracted publicity

Ecclestone has attracted publicity for financial support of Labour party for alleged influence for his business interests. Also for friendship and business relationship with another controversial figure Max Moseley, and for lifestyle and provocative statements considered anti-feminist and anti-semitic.

Another Rupert Murdoch?

He accepts (maybe enjoys?) a public image as an all-powerful Rupert Murdoch figure figuring in controversial news stories. He may be less than enthusiastic over media accounts of the life styles of his well-endowed daughters. [I just realised the unintended second meaning to that statement: Ed]

The Bahrain Grand Prix

Last year, the FI race in Bahrain was cancelled after an upsurge in violence. This year a decision was made to reinstate the race [scheduled for 22nd April, 2012] Even more international pressure was put on the FI administration. There was an upsurge in violence which made the decision to go ahead look like a humanitarian and public relations disaster.
Despite claims by F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone and regime officials that the race was safe and the threat of violence “hyped”, the build-up to the contest has been marked by increasingly large anti-government demonstrations that have been put down with teargas, birdshot and stun grenades.

On Friday, [April 21st 2012] activists began what they described as the first of “three days of rage” against Bahrain’s rulers. There were reports last night that police firing teargas canisters were confronting protesters hurling petrol bombs.

The ruling al-Khalifa family has depicted the race — which is expected to draw an audience of about 100 million — as a “force for good” and an event that will unite Bahrain. At least 50 people have died in the unrest since February 2011 in the longest-running street battles of the Arab Spring. Bahrain’s Shia majority is seeking to break the near-monopoly on power by the ruling Sunni dynasty, which has close ties to the west and Saudi Arabia.

To be continued

Andy Murray may need more mental map-making for Open success

April 21, 2012

Andy Murray has shown a willingness to learn through his new coach Ivan Lendl.

We examine how the learning will require reframing not of broken racquets but of mental maps

As Murray was heading for defeat against Tomas Berdych at the Monte Carlo Masters event [April 20th 2012] he smashed his racquet in frustration at his failure to find a strategy to cope with his opponent’s muscular game.

Coping with the unexpected

The defeat was not particularly unexpected. Although Murray is higher ranked, Berdych’s game is suited to Monaco’s clay court surfaces. Murray’s preparation has been hampered by unusual circumstances (withdrawal of three opponents through injury in the last few weeks, including in his last match). But the unusual has also to be coped with. The manner of the loss suggested Murray had not found a plan to deal with ‘events’ and with Berdych.

The post-match interview

We can examine the post-match interview for signs of the Scot’s mental state. I borrow from the principles of mental map-making which are being taught to business students including those at the Miami location of Manchester Business School programs not far from Murray’s own training facilities. The mapping approach attempts to examine the way an individual (or a group) may be ‘reading’ a situation and making sense of it by testing assumptions, and maybe changing his or her mind through mental reframing or conceptual map-making.

In post-match interviews Andy usually shows evidence of an acute mind actively engaged. That is in itself unusual, and compares well with evidence from interviews with top sports figures generally (I am thinking of the vast majority of interviews with fooball players and many managers). I have added my own ‘map testing’ interpretations of Andy’s maps.

“At some points today in the match I did well, and at some points I didn’t do so well,” said the Scot.
[Map reading]

“Today is a good match to learn from because I was playing a top player who played very, very well.
[Recognising the need to learn by map-mapping]

“I hung in, in the first set. Then in the tie-break I got a few lucky bounces. He missed a couple of shots that he hadn’t been missing.
[More map-reading]

“At the start of the second set he obviously started playing better and my level dropped – as the scoreline suggests.”
[map-making? He concludes that Berdych gained an advantage by playing the better better and that his own level dropped. He bases it on the evidence of the scoreline. He lost the set heavily].

Some tentative conclusions

A post-match interview may only reveal a glimpse of a player’s thinking processes. There may be deliberate withholding of information. And there is the possibility of ‘knowing more than can be said’. Just on the evidence, it seems to me that Andy Murray has untapped potential which if released will increase his chances of winning his much-coveted first Open Championship. He shows he has the mental equipment to reflect and develop his game further.

Although not obvious in the snippet of interview above, he is adequately motivated (over-motivated, some may say. His reflections stop short of acknowledging the dilemmas he faces. Can he rely on his exceptional defensive skills or should he attempt to be more aggressive, for example?
Maybe some more reframing of his mind sets will produce less reframing of his racquets.


The image could have been of Andy’s racquet. I suspect it’s not. It comes from the excellent tennis blog This tennis.


A few months later Andy Murray won the US Open, with ample evidence that he has developed the necessary mental reframing.

Is Denis O’Brien Ireland’s Rupert Murdoch?

April 20, 2012

The Irish entrepreneur and billionaire Denis O’Brien has a business career with similarities to that of Rupert Murdoch. He is currently believed to have been involved in moves to control Ireland’s Independent News & Media organization

I was struck by the account in this week’s Irish Times [April 20th 2012] of the boardroom changes in Ireland’s Independent News & Media organization [INM]. The story was presented as a clash between INN’s owners within a business empire founded by Tony O’ Reilly, and the business interests of the next-generation Irish entrepreneur Denis O’Brien who has become a major shareholder at INN.

With speculation mounting that dissident shareholder Denis O’Brien was planning to topple him, Independent News & Media’s chief executive Gavin O’Reilly raised the white flag and trudged off the battlefield.

O’Reilly was a marked man from the moment Leslie Buckley, O’Brien’s closest business associate, was dumped from the INM board last year.
The fact that INM’s operational performance has worsened over the past year also played a role in O’Reilly’s demise. No dividend has been paid since the crash. It was once considered the safest [investment] in town. Nothing O’Reilly said or did was able to arrest the slide. It is interesting to note that since its AGM last June, chairman Brian Hillery and the chief executive [Gavin O’Reilly ] have now both left.

O’Reilly’s exit means that for the first time since 1973 no member of Anthony O’Reilly’s family will be controlling INM’s affairs. What all of this means in relation to O’Brien’s plans for his INM stake remains to be seen. Many close to INM believe he has no intention of moving to acquire the company. There are substantial issues around his media ownership here, given his interests in six radio licences. Last night, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the [Irish] Government would “have a reflection on this in terms of cross-ownership of media”.

He may have gotten rid of O’Reilly but O’Brien has failed to gain control of the company, which many commentators presumed was his plan. Then again, perhaps that is the way he wants it. For now, at least.

Denis and Rupert

The career and leadership style of Denis O’Brien has some similarities with that of Rupert Murdoch. However, such comparisons risk over-simplifying complex issues, and need to be taken with a conceptual health warning.

Mr O’ Brien became a Portuguese resident thus avoiding paying taxes in Ireland.

A Government investigation [The Moriarty tribunal] examined his actions in the move which gave him his greatest financial boost. According to The Irish Times [3rd March, 2011] it found “beyond doubt” that [the then minister for transport, energy and communications] Mr Lowry gave “substantive information to Denis O’Brien, of significant value and assistance to him in securing the [mobile] licence”.

Update [Dec 11th 2012]

This week the IMM group’s financial position was assessed as week, and the company in need of drastic restructuring.