James Milner and the Art of No-Ego Leadership

James Milner and the Art of No-Ego Leadership
January 15, 2019 Chris Rowland


By TTT Subscriber John Cheung. 

If James Milner hadn’t been a footballer, I’d wager he’d have been a damn good soldier. One of those good eggs dragged out of their peacetime job as a dentist and thrown out to lead on the front line. Even as a pacifist, a big-believer in no war, “I’d follow you into battle” is still one hell of a compliment to me. It’s saying you’re savvy and you’ve got nous, you’ve got balls, and you’ve got stamina. It’s saying that I’d trust you with my life. Milly is a bona fide “I’d follow you into war” guy.

There’s a dusty lecture buried somewhere in the TED Talk archives about No-Ego Leadership and why leaders and managers should strive for it. Its merits as a concept depend on what definition of ego you take: ego as a sense of self or as a sense of self-importance. For this we’re talking about the latter. So, on a football pitch, No-Ego Leadership is about unaffected humility, self-sacrifice and ball-busting cross-country style running.

But you also need confidence in abundance. The kind of confidence you need to hold a poker face before casually smashing penalties past Gianluigi Buffon at Parc des Princes and David de Gea at Old Trafford. Maybe this kind of confidence is only available to those of us free from our egos, or maybe this kind of confidence allows us freedom from our egos. Either way, James Milner has it.

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