The Wisdom of Liverpool's Jürgen Klopp

Jürgen Klopp is an impressive coach, leader, and winner. We could learn much by engaging with his wisdom on a daily basis.

“We have to change from doubters to believers. Now.”

Jürgen Klopp, Message to fans on his first day as Liverpool F.C. Manager

There is something more significant than The Beatles coming out of Liverpool England nowadays. His name is Jürgen Klopp. Klopp is the manager of the Premier League’s Liverpool F.C. The Liverpool club has won titles, and their latest wins this season has given LFC a year-long Premier League unbeaten streak. Like all great leaders, Klopp does not have a secret formula or some magic pill. He has staunch principles that guide his daily actions. Jürgen Klopp knows his strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, he surrounds himself with people different than himself. Klopp builds his coaching staff like a rock and roll band, making sure that everyone plays various instruments, but always in the same tune. There is no debate over the message, just the style of delivery.

Jürgen Klopp has five principles that he believes create the Liverpool culture:

  1. TRUST. Trust is the foundation for Klopp. He operates with brutal honesty towards all. He is willing to be vulnerable and openly discuss his mistakes in front of the team. He encourages tough conversations, making sure everyone is not sensitive towards criticism. Once there is trust, open communication will follow. Trust between players, coaches, and the staff is essential for Klopp, and each day, he reinforces his words with his actions.

  2. DEFINE SUCCESS CLEARLY. High performing teams are crystal clear about what they are going after and how they need to align and collaborate to achieve goals. There is no margin for debate on the aspirations. There is a difference between dreams and goals. Klopp makes everyone aware that he is not merely dreaming but strategically planning.

  3. IDENTIFY THE BEHAVIOR. Teach the behavior you want from your players and team. Show them in detail what is acceptable. We all need to live those behaviors by making everyone accountable, including the star. Never allow an individual’s ego to sacrifice collective effort. Explain what the name on the front means, so the name on the back can either comply or walk away.

  4. LEARN TO LOVE SETBACKS. Understand there are no perfect practices, games, or seasons. Mistakes, detours in the road, will always challenge a team and organization. Treat those mistakes like small bumps in the way, and a learning process where team members recalibrate and move on. Never hand out blame because, in this culture, we learn from mistakes. Therefore, Klopp blames no one.

  5. SAFE ZONE FOR DEBATE. Recognize that differences in people will build strengths. Don’t create a team of the same mindsets. Put together a rock and roll band with individuals with different skill sets. Embrace different personality types, talents, and preferred team roles. Klopp wants his team to engage in passionate debate. Great teams have enthusiastic and unguarded conversations, even conflict, not on interpersonal issues but issues of importance to the business of the organization. Friendly teams are not high performing ones.

Jürgen Klopp is an impressive coach, leader, and winner. We could learn much by engaging with his wisdom on a daily basis.

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