COOL BOSS: How to Avoid Choosing the Wrong Boss for your Business

Louis Van Gaal GBSome say David Moyes was presented with a poison chalice, others that he should have been given more time before being summarily sacked after 9 months in the job as manager of Manchester United.

For me however, it highlighted a more interesting question:

How can we successfully and strategically identify and appoint the correct talent to senior positions in our organisations, and can we learn anything from Man. Utd’s very public staffing issues?

Firstly, a DISCLAIMER:

1. I’m a Gooner (for my sins, and all that)

2. I’m NOT a Man Utd Hater. As a Londoner I reserve all scorn for Spurs supporters only   (joke!)

3. This article is a look at management, culture and strategic appointments. I profess no footballing analysis expertise. In that I’m an armchair critic – just like you.

4. I take no pleasure in Man Utd not qualifying for European football for the first time in Premier League history, whilst Arsenal qualified for the 19th year (!).

5. No hate mail! Please take all the above comments in the playful sportsmanlike spirit it was intended!

Phew! Now we’ve got that out the way let’s get back to business.


In every workplace there are 4 types of people only: Workers, Managers, Entrepreneurs and Leaders.

Many of us can quite happily embody more than one element at any one time, but each of us will have most of our natural talents and strengths in, (and thereby gravitate towards), one main area.


The Worker

Workers Deliver. Compassionate, great team players and reliable at getting things done, a ‘Worker’ in a management role is grounded, calm, patient, always on time and engenders peace and balance.


The Manager

Managers Control. Orderly, systems oriented with a good eye for detail. A ‘Manager type’ in a management role is strong at completing. Clear, organized, disciplined and focused on precision and clarity.


The Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs Build. Energized, dynamic, creative, An Entrepreneur in a management role is great at getting things started. Always strategizing, they are able to innovate and take bold action.


The Leader

Leaders Inspire. Passionate, and outgoing, a Leader in a management role is great at communicating and collaborating. Vibrant and engaging, they attract the best to them.



All people in any organisation will carry out their duties according to one of the 4 styles.

Look around your office, your team, or even your family and see if you can tell the workers from the entrepreneurs, the leaders from the managers.

Sir Alex Ferguson could be described as the exception that proves the rule.

Like an Entrepreneur here is a man that took a club that finished second from bottom when he joined in 1986 and built it to become the largest club in the world (bar Real Madrid), creating teams around such footballing luminaries as Robson, Keane, Cantona, Ince, Becks, Giggs, Cole, Van Nistelrooy, Scholes, Ferdinand, Ronaldo ,etc.

Like a Manager his teams controlled games with a steely domination, leading to 13 premier league titles.

Like a Worker his teams reliably delivered top performances, sometimes doggedly, and trophies to match: 5 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, 2 Champions League titles and countless more.

But it is the fact that he kept the team at the top of the game whilst taking them through so many incarnations over more than 20 years that is testament to the fact that above all else, Sir Alex Ferguson is a Leader.

Ask any die hard Man Utd fan and they will admit that since the departure of Roy Keane Alex Ferguson had yet to replace his midfield with the same depth of quality, famously recalling Scholes to the squad in 2012 at the age of 37 after he had already retired.

Sir Alex’s real genius was not in innovation or strategy, building or creating teams. It was in having that leadership quality that got his players to fear him, respect him, be inspired by him, sweat blood and tears for him and ultimately play to their limit right up to the 96th ‘fergie time’ minute in order to steal victory, time and time again. For him.

Leaders are easy to recognise. They have followers.


For every organisation there is a time when they need a manager who can either deliver, control, build or lead.

With Sir Alex’s departure Man U didn’t need another Leader. They needed someone to find the replacements for Vidic, Ferdinand, Giggs, Carrick. Someone to get reinforcements for Van Persie, Evra, and Rooney. Someone with a strategy to stave off the threat from a renewed City and Liverpool. Someone to build the next generation of Man Utd heroes as Sir Alex did before. Someone with vision. Someone to usher in the season of Spring at Man United. They needed an Entrepreneur.

Moyes is no such visionary. David Moyes is a successful, accomplished, dependable Manager type Manager: Systems, Processes, Control. In an interview where he was asked why he didn’t pull Rooney off the pitch after a lacklustre performance he openly admitted he was ‘scared the fans would give [him] too much stick’. Hardly the attitude of an inspirational leader. Not the creative visionary Man Utd now need.

So what of the boy who would be king: Ryan Giggs?

There were calls for his appointment. He has the respect of the players in the dressing room. He has the adoration of the fans. He has been involved in competitions at every level, (more than Moyes could attest to). And there were even early noises coming from inside the squad that suggested the pre-match pep talk he gave for his first match in charge against Norwich sent shivers down his players’ spines and rallied his troops to victory. They went on to win 4-0. The makings of a Leader? Maybe.

But right now Giggs is a Worker Boss. Plays his part to a high standard. Constantly and consistently delivers. Always on time. Always reliable. Grounded.

These are the perfect qualities for a player manager in an interim role during a transition phase. He put out a balanced team, worked hard to create a harmonious environment and delivered solid performances. But he is not the Entrepreneur they need.

The decision on who was to be the next Man Utd manager was a strategic decision. Man Utd is a £2bn publicly listed business first and football club second. Their stock price rose on the announcement of David Moyes’ sacking, but dropped with the announcement of Giggs as interim manager.

A Cool Boss for the Spring Climate?

Was the ideal Entrepreneur Manager turned down for the role last year? It was well known that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho wanted the job. A sometimes unorthodox yet canny, strategic visionary who can attract players and build winning teams.

But the appointment of an Entrepreneur always carries an element of risk. They are great at starting something, turning fortunes around and delivering results but are unlikely to be there 20 years later. The Man U board thought they needed another long-term deep and meaningful relationship, not a passionate but potentially short lived fling and Mourinho has form at  being a pump ’em and dump ’em kind of guy.

So the board, (on the advice of Fergie), instead of rolling the dice, decided on playing the long game with Moyes, but ultimately crapped out.

Louis Van Gaal has now taken up the Man U mantle ahead of Giggs, Mourinho and other potentials. A man who clearly meets the profile an Entrepreneur. Passionate, Unorthodox, Bold.  He may well prove an even better appointment than Mourinho would have done.

The saga has just begun.

The real lesson we can learn from the Man United Board’s choices and Moyes’ demise is that your staff appointments, senior or otherwise, should always match the climate of your business as well as the requirements of your business strategy.

That way you’ll always obtain a Cool Boss for all seasons.

Gary Brown


Gary Brown is a Workforce and Business Development Consultant, founder of CareeRevolution and author of ‘Job Hunter Revolution’. His new titles ‘Career Revolution 2.0′ and ‘Cool Boss – Cool Business’ are out later this year.






1 thought on “COOL BOSS: How to Avoid Choosing the Wrong Boss for your Business

  1. I predict that this superbly usable ‘four types of boss (the WELM Model )’ analysis will probably find its way across articles on organisational theory, successsion planning and workplace design and eventually into something like HBR. The power is in how well the individual definitions fit together: Entrepreneur Bosses start new things, Manager Bosses design and implement the processes to realise them, Worker Bosses make sure they are carried out, and Leader Bosses attract and inspire the right people. Excellent.

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