Posted on: 04 Apr 2012
Written by: joel
Jose Mourinho, or the ‘Special One’ as he famously labelled himself shortly after arriving in England, is arguably the greatest club manager of his generation. From humble coaching beginnings in the lower reaches of Portuguese football, the 49-year-old has found success at every rung of the football ladder and has now won league championships in Portugal, England and Italy. With his Real Madrid team 10 points clear of Barcelona (a Barcelona that includes the freakishly talented Lionel Messi), he seems certain to add Spain’s La Liga to his list shortly. Not limited to domestic honours, he has won the UEFA cup with Porto and the Champions’ League twice, with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010.
If you spend any time listening to Mourinho talk, or watch the way he sets his teams up to play, it’s not difficult to see why he’s been so successful. He is a painstaking perfectionist, confident to the point of arrogance about his own abilities and his team’s, fiercely competitive and a ruthless football tactician.
But when asked this week, by Italian journalists, to explain how to build a ‘winning group’ he answered, “the [most] important thing is to communicate with them in their own language: Spanish in Spain, English in England, you cannot use another language. I also think it is good to know different languages for private conversations with the players. When you are in private with them, being able to communicate with them in their own language is really important in order to build a different kind of relationship”. Fluent in Portuguese, English, Italian, Spanish and Catalan, Mourinho’s big break came when he worked as a translator for Bobby Robson at Barcelona. In fact, he earned himself the derogatory nickname Tradutor (Translator) in the early stages of his managerial career at Porto.
So when Mourinho speaks about the importance of languages, we need to listen. And for Mourinho, language is huge. He teaches us about the importance of communicating with groups in a language everyone will understand – and he shows us the value of communicating with individuals in their mother tongue in order to build relationships. This has obvious knock-on effects both for our employees and for the markets we’re seeking to target. Do we want to build ‘winning groups’ within our companies? Then we would be wise to ensure we can communicate to the entire group. Do we want to “build a different kind of relationship” with potential customers from abroad? Then we would do well to communicate with them in their own language, even if they can speak some English.