I have no particular allegiance to Notts County Football Club or to any of its past managers, but nevertheless loved the words from Jamie Fullarton earlier this year on his 70 day experience as club manager.
“It’s exciting, you look forward to it – then reality hits.”
“When you’re on the training field, that’s your solace. Why? No phone. No-one asking you questions, no-one making demands of you.”
“Everybody wants five minutes of your time. It’s all the baggage that comes with being a manager that is something you need a coping strategy to deal with.”
“I found it impossible to switch off . . . when things are going well, it absorbs you. That’s a choice, because things are going well and you want to be there, you spend more time. When things aren’t going well, it consumes your life, you’re affected in terms of your thought processing. As a manager, you’re paid to make decisions and they become clouded under that pressure.”
“We’ve done our badges, but at no point do they talk about coping strategies, about dealing with theses stresses and pressures. Wellbeing is a key factor, how you look after yourself.”
Fullarton was reported to be assertive and articulate and felt ready for the role. Yet on reflection, Fullarton concedes he made mistakes.
“I found over a short period of time that it consumed me, I wasn’t controlling it. The pressure of it. It’s a lonely job, whether it’s 5,000 people in the stadium, you feel very alone on the touchline.”
“The sobering point for me was on the Sunday morning . . . five in the morning, my little daughter, Gabriella, and son, Joseph, came in and they were saying, ‘what’s happening today’?
“And I said, ‘daddy’s got a bit of time off now’. They said, ‘what do you mean’?
“I said, ‘I’ve lost my job’. And they said, ‘what, you’ve been sacked’? They were jumping on the bed, cheering.
“I said, ‘why are you happy guys’? And they said, ‘we’re going to see more of you’. That burst a bubble for me and made me realise where I’d been for the past few months and that it had consumed me.”
“You feel a stigma, where you shouldn’t have to reach out for support, and we need to break that down so that managers feel comfortable to reach out.”
Some of the best management thought leaders I’ve read haven’t been able to put it better.