“Klinsmann was above all a motivator and press clerk, while Loew has pulled the threads.” This is the tenor in the German media and fan scene.

You can attribute the success of 2006 more to Loew than Klinsmann. Klinsmann was above all a motivator and press clerk, while Loew has pulled the stings. This is the tenor in the German media and fan scene. Why these are unfair to Jürgen Klinsmann’s work, you can read here in the second part of the article on the change management process at  DFB.

Just as in the macro-view, here, I also use the explanations of Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Jenewein. With his team, he tries to find out how Jürgen Klinsmann succeeded in a successful change management process at the DFB within only two years.

According to Prof. Dr. Jenewein, when a company changes, it is not just about organizational (macro) changes. The leadership team around Jürgen Klinsmann also had to win over every single player for his big change project to be a success. According to Jenewein, the corresponding management style consists of four important facets, the so-called four “I’s.”

1. Identifying: Show backbone even when there’s backlash

Team members need to identify with their leader. Jürgen Klinsmann positioned himself as a strong figure for the team to identify with. His success as a player gave him an advantage. However, the behavior of the management trio over the full two years was decisive.

The leaders demonstrated cohesion and steadfastness. In addition, they were not deterred by unpopular personnel decisions or failures.

Thomas Hitzlsperger at the Harvard Business Manager: “You could just feel at every stage of the project that Klinsmann is a professional who knows exactly what he is doing. That gave us security and confidence. ”

Also independent of football: a boss who always wants to please all parties loses authenticity. A good change manager shows backbone even when it gets tough.

Michael Ballack at the time: “Jürgen Klinsmann did his thing, even when it did not go so well. I found it impressive that he always stuck to his plans.”

2. Inspiration: Jürgen Klinsmann relies on image and sound

Thought-out structures were available. But these had to be filled with life. Jürgen Klinsmann and his team continually focused the players on the great goal of winning the World Cup.

The national coach uses image and sound. In 2005, 40 national players saw the motivational video “Challenge 2006.” The footage: the great moments of German football, especially from the World Cup victories in 1954, 1974 and 1990. The music selection: “Lose Yourself” by Eminem.

The team caught the spark. And also at the 2006 World Cup, before each game, highlight videos were shown to the team. Music and videos were not planned from the beginning, says sport psychologist Hans-Dieter Hermann.

The danger: such elements often seem artificial. Especially in sports, however, the opportunity is high for motivating players emotionally to achieve a goal. Employee leadership is often reduced to rewarding performance.  However, according to Wolfgang Jenewein, this is not enough, especially in times of crisis.

3. Intellectual: Confucius says …

“Tell me, and I’ll forget; show me and I’ll remember; involve me, and I’ll understand. ”

While some would call this “kitchen philosophy,” it was actually the core idea of the DFB leadership. It was about involving players more than usual. An example: before each game, a team member, usually a substitute player, should give a rousing speech.

In addition to an organizational guiding principle, there was also the guiding principle “the self-responsible, open and interested player.” The team should also learn from exciting personalities, whether business consultants or extreme mountaineers.

Within the team, the trio of leaders tested 39 different players. In part, Klinsmann & Co. even consciously renounced stars to give the young players additional self-confidence.

In many organizations, there is little room for new things. This is not always conscious. Nonetheless, managers miss the innovations and ideas of their employees. As the involvement of the base decreases, the dependence on a single actor increases.


4. Individual

Particularly in a team sport, there is a risk that team results will neglect the strengths and weaknesses of individuals. One on one discussions or analyses are no longer required; you tend to focus on the average.

And DFB innovators absolutely wanted to avoid mediocrity. Individual talks and individual training sessions were the order of the day. Each player benefited from individual training and day plans. Video analyses were mainly held in a position-based manner.

“I want to make every player a bit better every day.” Admittedly, this quotation from Jürgen Klinsmann comes from his early days at Bayern Munich. However, it fits so much better for his time as national coach, although he could not train every player at the DFB every day. The players realized that there was a specific plan for each of them that would be relevant to team success.

In 2009, Klinsmann added told FAZ: “A coach can only help a player to help himself. A coach can not make a player better. The drive must lie within the player himself. ”

Jürgen Klinsmann talks about his time at Bayern: “I came to my limits with FC Bayern. I had too much to do with shaking up people’s views instead of working quietly on the development of the team. I met people at FC Bayern who thought very differently. In hindsight, that’s why it was probably the best for everyone that we went our separate ways.”

His failure as a club trainer at FC Bayern often gets more attention than his successful time as national coach and change manager. However, we conclude that his change process at the national team is sustainable. Joachim Löw and Oliver Bierhoff, in particular, took care of this. Football-Germany can also thank Jürgen Klinsmann for starting things up.

➡️ Click here for part 1