Business and the Beautiful Game
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Business and the Beautiful Game






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Uses the language of football to show how to win in business.

For years, the language of the football world have been used as everyday boardroom language, with phrases such as 'what's the score?' and 'we're playing the long game' becoming commonplace. Business and the Beautiful Game cleverly applies the analogy of football to the world of business and in doing so compares and contrasts the key elements in the world of commerce to the parellels of the beautiful game.

This unique book uses signposts founded in football folklore to help the reader absorb as much information as possible. For example, 'Tactics' replaces the customary 'Summary' signpost to emphasise the key points whilst maintaining the football theme. Chapter headings draw on essential components of the beautiful game that can be equally well applied to management, for example 'Captaincy' represents 'Middle Management'. This clever and non-linear structure allows readers to dip in and out of the sections they want to focus on.

Combining the vital elements of wit and wisdom, this book makes useful observations without taking the business world too seriously. It's an entertaining read for anyone wanting a fresh outlook on the world of business.

“What’s the score?”, “we’re playing the long game!” and “a game of two halves” are now familiar phrases around the boardroom table. The links between football and business have become glaringly obvious, and in Business and the Beautiful Game the authors draw an analogy between these two worlds.

This lively and entertaining book provides a framework for a fresh way of thinking about business, helping readers to remember what’s important, on and off the pitch and in and out of the workplace. Combining wit and wisdom, this book makes useful observations without taking the business world too seriously.

A must-read for those wanting to tackle the corporate world from a new angle!

Table of Contents

Pre-match preparation
Features of the book

The first half

Chapter 1 Skills
Have you got what it takes?
The value of skills in the war for talent; What is your value?; The essential skill mix; Six critical skills; Light at the end of the tunnel; More enlightened HR

Chapter 2 Ambition
The hunger of the winner
Personal or cultural?; True Brit; The life cycle of ambition; What are you ambitious for?; Measure your AQ

Chapter 3 Passion
Your greatest asset is belief
The importance of passion; Where does passion spring from?; What does passion look like?; How do we get more passion?; Extra time and the extra mile; Love and loyalty

Chapter 4 Stress
How to cope under pressure
How can you be stressed?; What causes stress?; More than just control; Stress relief; Support

Chapter 5 Discipline
Keeping your cool and keeping order
The elements of self-discipline; Discipline and performance management; Guidelines for discipline; Crime and punishment

Chapter 6 Captaincy
Marshalling your troops
What do captains do?; Have you got what it takes?; Application of captaincy skills; Expectations of a team captain

The second half

Chapter 7 Coaching
Helping others learn
What makes a good coach?; A practical approach to coaching; Elements of a coaching session; Support and challenge

Chapter 8 Management
The most difficult job in the world
Strategy -- just what is it?; Management -- a bit like captaincy; Leadership and management; Politics; People management; What’s the job?; Handling conflict; Conducting disciplinary meetings

Chapter 9 Selection
Picking your best performers
Supply and demand; The squad approach; Getting the right team; Structure; Gap identification; Attracting talent; Diversity and discrimination; Pointers to good selection; Organic management; Fitness versus spirit

Chapter 10 Opposition
Outwitting the competition
Who are they, where are they?; Weighing up your advantage; Exploiting your analysis; What are they playing at?; Keep your eye on the opposition and plan ahead; Some thoughts on ‘gap analysis’; Competitive strategies; Getting the big things right

Chapter 11 Full time
Final thoughts

Additional reading

Author Profiles

Cary L. Cooper is Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health, and former Pro Vice Chancellor at Lancaster University. He is the author/editor of over 120 books (on occupational stress, women at work and industrial and organizational psychology), has written over 400 scholarly articles for academic journals, and is a frequent contributor to national newspapers, TV and radio.

He is currently Founding Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Editor-in-Chief of the medical journal Stress & Health. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, The Royal Society of Arts, The Royal Society of Medicine, The Royal Society of Public Health, The British Academy of Management and an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences. Professor Cooper is past President of the British Academy of Management, is a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute and one of the first UK based Fellows of the (American) Academy of Management (having also won the 1998 Distinguished Service Award for his contribution to management science from the Academy of Management).

In 2001, Cary was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his contribution to occupational safety and health. He holds Honorary Doctorates from Aston University (DSc), Heriot-Watt University (DLitt), Middlesex University (Doc. Univ) and Wolverhampton University (DBA); an Honorary Fellowship of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine in 2005, was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians (Hon FRCP) in 2006, in 2007 a Life Time Achievement Award from the Division of Occupational Psychology of the British Psychological Society and in 2008 an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (College of Occupational Medicine). Professor Cooper has been Chair of the UK’s Academy of Social Sciences since July 2009. He is now Chair of the Chronic Disease and Wellbeing Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum

Professor Cooper is the Editor-in-Chief of the international scholarly Blackwell Encyclopedia of Management (13 Volume set), the Editor of Who’s Who in the Management Sciences and on the Editorial Boards of many scholarly journals. He has been an adviser to two UN agencies; the World Health Organisation and the ILO; published a major report for the EU’s European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Work Conditions on `Stress Prevention in the Workplace’, produced a scientific review for the WHO/ILO on workplace violence in the health sector internationally, and was a special adviser to the Defense Committee of the House of Commons on their Duty of Care enquiry (2004-05). Professor Cooper is former Chair of The Sunningdale Institute, a think tank on management organizational issues, in the National School of Government. He was also the lead scientist to the UK Government Office for Science on their Foresight programme on Mental Capital and Well Being (2007-2008), and was appointed a member of the expert group on establishing guidance for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence on ‘promoting mental wellbeing through productive and healthy working conditions’, 2009.

Professor Cooper is also the President of the Institute of Welfare, President of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, a national Ambassador of The Samaritans, a Patron of the Anxiety UK, and Patron of the National Bullying Helpline. HR Magazine named him the 6th Most Influential Thinker in HR in 2009.

Theo Theobald is a freelance writer and business consultant with a track record that includes six years in senior sales and marketing management positions with the BBC and a creative writing career embracing major internet and audio production. In 2001 he started his own company, Shocktactic Ltd and has undertaken major writing and production projects for a host of organizations such as the BBC and CIPD.

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20 Jun 2010

I am indebted to the authors for writing this book. There are lots of lessons, I believe, for managers to see what really matters when the pressure is on. - Sir Terry Leahy, CEO, Tesco

20 Jun 2010

In any profession you’ve got to have passion... the more desire you have the better the chance you’ve got of reaching the top. - Bryan Robson, former Captain of the England football team

20 Jun 2010

What a great read! This will inspire not only those in business but in sport too. Want to motivate your staff? Give them a copy today! - Martin Edwards, former Chairman, Manchester United FC

20 Jun 2010

The use of business practice in the world of soccer is both innovative and exciting. This book provides the insight and is a great read! - Keith Edelman, Managing Director, Arsenal FC

20 Jun 2010

Management books tend to use either case studies or metaphors to demystify and explain the complexities of business management. In Business and the Beautiful Game Theo Theobald and Cary Cooper use football as a metaphor and case studies from the experiences of real football managers like Harry Redknapp, David Platt and Gordon Strachan and more. Unsurprisingly this is a book of two halves. The first deals with the softer elements of successful management, ambition, passion, stress etc. The second half focuses on the harder processes of achieving success, captaincy, coaching, selection, opposition etc. The book concludes, as any good fan would expect with post match analysis. This emphasises that whilst we will spend time analysing the performance of others on a pitch doing something most of us last did at school, we spend comparatively little time reviewing the performance of people who do what we are supposed to be experts at. The many parallels between business and sport soon become apparent. Players are after all just employees. Like your team they need to be managed well to achieve their peak performance, and will react just like disgruntled players if you fail to deliver. It doesn’t matter what sport you like or how you participate, you will enjoy this book. It is written in the easily accessible but sharply focused style of sports reporting. It isn’t full of cutting edge management theories; that isn’t why it was written. It is however packed full of examples from football, both on and off the pitch, at the club and away from it that are skilfully used to explain the principles of management. Everybody will find this book useful, especially people who are new to reading about management. There is one important difference between managers in business and managers in football. In business we talk about potential, in football you are only as good as your last result. Maybe business should become more like football clubs? How many business managers would survive beyond the next game? I finished the book realising that being a manager is not supposed to be easy, the higher you go the more pressure you should feel, as Gordon Strachan says 'there is no way you can enjoy everyday as a [football] manager'.

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