The FIFA leadership effect

October 31, 2016 Sascha Grosskopf


A few years ago, it was not such a well-known ‘secret’ that FIFA is riddled with corruption. Now that the FIFA scandals have come to light, they have also brought down some prestigious FIFA figureheads. 


A lot of people suffer when their top representative does something wrong. When the manager of a company is disloyal to their employees or is guilty of corruption, it has a similar effect to that of FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, on his organisation.


A new form of leadership has not only come about through the FIFA scandals but is happening alongside technological changes: Leadership 4.0. The result: flat hierarchies and a greater interchange between hierarchical levels. Doing away with ties and board member privileges is now standard practice in large organisations like Google. 


Should you be the boss’ buddy?


These kind of changes quickly come about but they are rarely able to properly break down the old ways of thinking or traditional practices. No one proves this better than Sepp Blatter and his fellow FIFA executives. Managers are more than just the driver of a company, they are also the company’s brand ambassador and figurehead. When they fail, the whole company fails with them. The effect is even greater when bosses have made friends with their employees. Shady manipulation not only causes them to damage the company’s reputation and hurt it financially, but also to betray their team.      


Leadership 4.0 as part of compliance


In light of such large corruption scandals, managers should not only carry out cosmetic corrections to management, but also be conscious of their own character and behaviour as a role model to employees. Up until now, this new form of company management has rarely been integrated into the company code of conduct. Future developments in Leadership, Compliance or Digitalisation should not be dealt with separately but jointly. They should grow together and, in the best case scenario, they will eventually completely merge together. It is essential that codes of ethics and regulations go beyond classic HR. Managers and employees alike should lead the way and set an example for following their duty and company obligations. Mutual trust in the workplace is the motor for success. Compliance is all well said and done but in a highly corrupt environment, rule violations can become trivial offences. In such an environment, even HR can begin to openly tolerate illegal practices. Like a common grammar mistake – if everyone does it, it’s no longer a mistake. The first and best way to address this issue is through true leadership capability and a well-established talent management programme. 


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