What makes Juergen Klopp successful

Management expert explains what makes Jürgen Klopp so successful

  • The management professor Ralf Lanwehr illustrates his lectures using examples from professional football.
  • He names Jürgen Klopp as an important role model when it comes to leadership.
  • The Liverpool coach unites the players through his charisma, trust and rhetorical techniques behind him.

On the stage of the event center in Montabaur Castle, Ralf Lanwehr stands in front of executives and personnel. He is a speaker at the Xing New Work Sessions and explains to the audience that the days when you could simply tell employees what to do are over.

“In the past, you could justify an instruction simply by saying that you were the boss,” he says. “Employees were also 'motivated' by rewards or penalties. But techniques that are based solely on hierarchy are no longer accepted today. "

Charisma is the new form of power

Today you have to convince people, get them carried away. And for this it is necessary to be charismatic. “Basically, charisma is nothing more than a gentler way of exercising power,” explains Lanwehr.

That pays off for both sides: Employees who are convinced of their job thanks to a charismatic manager feel satisfied, enjoy their work, therefore do more, are less ill and quit less often.

Ralf Lanwehr studied psychology and mathematics, received his doctorate in business administration and is now a professor of management. He also advises Bundesliga clubs such as TSG Hoffenheim and managers from DAX companies such as BMW.

He often illustrates his lectures and lectures with examples from professional football. A particularly positive example: Jürgen Klopp.

Lanwehr explains to the executives present in Montabaur which techniques Klopp owes his special charisma and what they can learn from the exceptional Swabian trainer.

“In business, many executives say that their employees are their greatest asset, but they don't always act on them,” he says. "When you look at employee surveys, few employees feel really valued."

Jürgen Klopp is a master of appreciation

It is different with the players of Liverpool manager Klopp. “Jürgen Klopp combines many qualities of a good manager. He's incredibly charismatic, but doesn't take himself too seriously, puts his players in the foreground and thereby makes them better, ”said Ralf Lanwehr after the lecture in an interview with Business Insider.

The most important thing, however, is that he trust them. In this way, he succeeds in making his players really aware of his appreciation. As a result, they are motivated and self-confident and that the trainer can give them their opinion in difficult situations without causing a falling out.

Ralf Lanwehr mentions Neven Subotic, who Klopp trained at Borussia Dortmund, as an example: “Subotic once said, 'Klopp sometimes yells at me that I could blow dry my hair. But I always know that he appreciates me as a person and a player. ""

Another example of the effect Klopp has on his team, according to Lanwehr, is the game between BVB midfielder Oliver Kirch against Real Madrid, which Klopp surprisingly set up in 2014. At that time, Kirch had impressed many critics with his first-class performance.

Players grow beyond themselves through Klopp

This is largely thanks to Kirch's motivation technique, explains Lanwehr. Through his honest appreciation, Klopp had mentally built up Kirch in such a way that he delivered "the game of his life".

"When I know that the coach is behind me and supports me unconditionally, when I know that I can allow myself to make mistakes, then I am no longer inhibited and can throw everything I have at my disposal", says he.

Klopp leads with heart, hand and brain

Jürgen Klopp is also a master at gathering the players behind him and making a team. "Klopp leads with heart, hand and brain," says Lanwehr.

This means that Klopp can convey to the players what his plans are (brain), he is tactically first class (hand), but more importantly, he speaks to the hearts of the players.

“That always has an ideological component,” says Ralf Lanwehr. “Klopp picks out clubs that suit him, that is, clubs from working-class cities like Dortmund or Liverpool. In his motivational speeches to the team, he likes to spur the players on with messages like 'We'll show the fine gentleman from Munich' ”. That is a central element of his strategy.

The famous motivational speeches of the exceptional trainer

Klopp also used the story of Oliver Kirch in 2019 to motivate his team Liverpool for the Champions League second leg against FC Barcelona.

"Everyone thought back then: who is this guy?" Said Klopp. And what kind of game he did was absolutely crazy. Here Klopp used the contrast between expectation and reality to make it clear to his team that anything is possible. It worked: Liverpool won 4-0.

Klopp also shows his special appreciation for his players by deliberately standing in front of them in public, says Lanwehr. He reacted very calmly when representatives of the press asked him whether the defeat, the first defeat after 18 wins, worried him.

Klopp protects his players

"It was clear that one day we would lose a game and today it just happened," he said. He sees it rather positively, as the team can now concentrate on the game itself and not on a record-breaking series of victories (with 19 consecutive wins, Liverpool would have overtaken the previous record holder Arsenal). "Klopp senses moods and expresses them," says Lanwehr. "This takes the pressure off his players."

Finally, Ralf Lanwehr advises the executives in the audience to consciously and individually show their appreciation to all employees.

"Ask yourself - what did this person do well, what can I praise him or her for?" He says. "This is particularly important in areas such as IT, HR, controlling or accounting, where only errors are noticed, but not good performance."

Managers should systematically concentrate on what is going well with their employees, for example keep lists with only positive examples and check for themselves whether they have also expressed praise. It can also be helpful to introduce small rituals to form team spirit.

This article was published by Business Insider in March 2020. It has now been reviewed and updated.