As a manager of any kind, charisma can get you a long way. Being charismatic along with other ingredients are components of effective leaders and managers. Similarly, athletes or players possess talent which is a major ingredient but there are more characteristics or factors that are necessary to make up the total package.
A couple of days ago, I was fortunate to have two one-on-one Zoom calls with former Manchester United legend Andy Cole and ex-England and Arsenal defender Sol Campbell as they expressed their excitement looking ahead to coaching stints in the Caribbean at the Islands Cup Open with the Barbados Challengers franchise team in 2021.
The conversation with Sol was moreso interesting as he disclosed certain things about his experience in the region while serving as assistant coach of the T&T men’s team in 2017.
Inspiring players to achieve beyond expectations is at the heart of transformational and charismatic leadership. Of course, a big part of the responsibilities lies on the athletes themselves as Campbell pointed out.
"I know about the flamboyance," Campbell told me when asked for his take on players from T&T and other parts of the Caribbean. "But also there is a fine balance between flamboyance and discipline which you have to get right to get the best out of the players.
"You have to make sure you can get the balance between fun, enjoying your football and also discipline. You have to get it right especially in the Caribbean. The flamboyance and skill, showing what you can do and being able to harness that and understanding when to use it and when not to use it."
Campbell and Cole have achieved a great deal in the game. You can hardly find a reason if there was one to not take on board what they have to say. Both men are into management now after enjoying hugely successful careers as players.
Campbell is eager to pass on advice to players and coaches in the region but pointed out that one thing that he observed in 2017, was a lack of interest in conversation among coaches and players when it came to extracting information.
"I’m going to be an open book when I’m out there," the former Tottenham Hotspur man said. "I want to learn from other guys. There will be a mixture of local guys and others coming from around the world. You can learn a little bit more from those coming from Africa or France or Brazil. You can absorb all this information.
"Understanding talent is everything and it comes in different shapes, sizes and colours. Everyone has had a different pathway and some may be similar but everyone is also unique in their own way. That is how you learn and grow as a player and also as a manager." he said.
"Never be too proud to ask questions. I was asking questions until I was 30 and still playing. Don’t block yourself out. Don’t waste opportunities. I felt in the Caribbean they don’t ask much questions and I felt that way when I was there in 2017. I want to unleash all my experiences and talent because I want to see you grow."
For a man who has played in three World Cups and close to 400 games for Arsenal and Tottenham, it should mean something when he says the following about players from T&T.
"For me playing those big games and seeing the players (from T&T), some of them who were playing abroad but a lot of them were local going toe-to-toe with some of the biggest players from around the world especially from Mexico and America was something.
"Obviously, it’s different. The environment stood out for me. The heat on a regular basis that all of a sudden changes your mood and how you go out to train. You want to ensure there is the right foundation and build on top of that.
"There is so much talent out there you just need the proper system and proper training programme to harness it and allow players to grow and realise their dreams," Campbell said.
Combining talent, skill, discipline and motivation is a dynamic and multifaceted phenomenon that can be manipulated, to some degree at least, in the pursuit of superior sporting performance.
The more we live, the more we learn and the more opportunities are presented for us to explore what is out there. With the right mindset, there is more to gain than lose. So why waste it?
Shaun Fuentes is the head of TTFA Media. He is a former FIFA Media Officer at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and currently a CONCACAF Competitions Media Officer. The views expressed are solely his and not a representation of any organisation.