Can you be too loyal to your employer?

Many of you will have witnessed the controversy over the weekend in the English Premier League, specifically surrounding Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra prior to the start of the weekends big game between Manchester United and Liverpool.

In a nut shell, Suarez was banned for 8 games for using racial language towards the Man United defender Patrice Evra late last year and although I make no judgement on what really went on, the FA found Suarez guilty.

It had been arranged before the match that the two would shake hands and that would be the end of it. However, the Liverpool striker had other things in mind and as the media has shown multiple times this weekend, Suarez ignored the outstretched arm of Evra and so it all began all over again.

Aside from the antics on the pitch, at the end of the match the Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish was questioned and fiercely defended his player and club in a manner that some found outrageous.

I think you’re very severe and bang out-of-order to blame Luis Suarez for anything that happened here today. Both sets of fans behaved really well, there was banter between each other, no problem. Said the Liverpool manager.

Apparently the American owners of Liverpool later intervened and Dalglish subsequently apologised for his outburst:

All of us have a responsibility to represent this club in a fit and proper manner.

That applies equally to me as Liverpool manager.

When I went on TV after yesterday’s game I hadn’t seen what had happened, but I did not conduct myself in a way befitting of a Liverpool manager during that interview and I’d like to apologise for that.

Many of the football pundits have been putting their explanation forward for what was said and the general consensus was that Dalglish was simply defending his player and club rather than acting in a manner that would befit a senior football ambassador. There is no doubt that Kenny has passion for his club, but I wonder if the outburst came from loving his club too much and wanting to defend his player without having all the facts. Can you be too passionate for your organisation, your company and your staff? For years organisations have been trying to ensure that staff morale, employee engagement and team ethics are at the heart of much of what they do and who can blame them. A good working environment leads to better productivity, reduced staff turnover and greater customer satifcation…passion is something that many a business would love to tap into, but it should not be at the expense of professionalism and using a level head.

The other aspect of all of this was that it enabled Liverpool’s rivals, Manchester United a chance to criticise their opposition. In the publics eyes, the events would have increased the goodwill towards Manchester United, not least because their player who was subject to the abuse offered his hand to Suarez, but also damage Liverpool’s reputation…a bit of bad press. In business, look at Samsung vs Apple or one of the big banks having the opportunity to raise themselves above one of their competitors….it would be a PR nightmare and all because passion got in the way of good business sense.

The funny thing is that if Suarez had simply taken 2 seconds out of his day to shake Evra’s hand, none of this would have ever happened.


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