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Over the past 40 years, I have experienced much from the kinds of management and cultures leaders have helped create in the world of sports.Besides suffering under bad management myself, I have seen the consequences of poor management for organizations, clubs and staff – both on the human and on the economic level. These consequences have had, and still have, a rub-off effect on society, especially as sports have become a bigger and bigger part of many people’s values and quality of life.

There are plenty of good people working in sports, and the basic idea of “healthy mind in a healthy body” is worth striving for. All in all, I think we should strive to identify and use the best in ourselves and in one another.

We all know examples of people that exhibit disconnection between intentions and actions. Perhaps they are genuinely striving to help better people’s lives and create good results, but it is likely that their intention-action discrepancy will cause them to continually violate basic ethical rules for coexistence. Their pursuit of results justify their own behavior to themselves, but often their real motive is the selfish need for own power and economy. This is all too common in the world of sports, and the time has come to reflect on what happened to good and ethical management.

Too often I have been confronted with styles of management and managers who have failed on the human level, no matter economic or professional results. I have also experienced how the morality and rules these managers have created, has brought about an infinite amount of grief and misfortune to a lot of people.

Above all, I have a dream of creating a new type of management built on entirely different attitudes to one’s self and the role as leader. A type of management, where the people in sports are more important, than personal gains or power. A culture, where prosperity and development can progress without all the distractions. It is a dream I believe in, and one I hope I share with many others. So, the dream is to help create a management style that supports a performance culture based on humanistic values.

I have often been told that I am not loyal to the clubs and organizations I have worked for. It is an opinion that may seem correct if seen from the outside, since I have often been public about internal relationships in these businesses and clubs. Mostly, the Medias interpretations of my statements have been completely true to my intentions – though, I have never spoken of individuals, and therefore the Medias portrayal of cases with names will have to be on their conscience.

I have never hidden my experiences and have always made sure to take matters up internally before making any external statements. I have always considered this solution as a last resort to affect a club or organization when everything else had gone wrong, and no one would listen.

I have never sold myself to a club or organization with the promise of loyalty, and I have never given any club or organization the impression that by hiring me, they had bought my loyalty.

When I am hired as a developer of organizations or as a consultant on sports psychology, my task has always been to optimize performances on all levels. It is my clear conviction that this assignment can only succeed by dealing with the reality of the organization, which means that I focus on my own experience of the organization, paying no mind to what others think can and cannot be said.

To get an understanding of my work, and the reason for this book, it is important to understand that I have consciously decided not to be loyal to a club or organization – and thereby submitting to it and its demands for silence. Of most importance must be to come close to the truth about the processes that happens, so I am able to help my clients optimize their performances.

The title of this book says it all. It is about the culture, the mentality and the attitudes we create, and the recognition of the fact that to change mentality, you have to change attitudes. That requires dialogue with all involved parties.

The book is based on real events and experiences, and solely on theories, hypotheses and thoughts I have developed or use in my professional life.

There will be examples from companies, clubs and organizations I have worked with through the years, but I will refrain from naming them. Often the used example is not unique, but an expression of something I have encountered on numerous occasions. The managers described here are persons I have encountered, and, when mentioned, they too are an expression of general observations, not simply representations of a single individual.

If I deviate and choose to name organizations, it is only with the intention of bringing a general example to the fore. That means that I have not personally worked in or with these organizations. Instead, my arguments are based on common journalistic research.

The intent of this book is to create more openness about what happens in sports organizations, and to further debate on management and management styles. This can help grow abilities currently being neglected by the organizations, contribute to the development of management talent – the purpose being to create greater performances for all of us to enjoy.

Blind loyalty to others is betrayal of your own ability and your own success.

I would like to thank all the organizations, clubs, businesses, managers, coworkers and athletes that have put their trust in me through the years, and who have used my knowledge and ability.

I am grateful for the experiences and opportunities I have had in the world of sports and would like to thank those who have read drafts of this book, been critical and contributed with input. I would like to thank Coach Lasse Kristensen and chief consultant Hans Lauge for their concrete questions and constructive criticism. Likewise, I would like to thank Jens Erik Lund for his illustrations to this book and Marie Lauritzen for editing and Sune Jensen for translating this book.




Mentality is our attitudes, what we think, and therefore mental management is borne out of leading with attitudes.

All people, no matter age, gender or cultural background, have opinions. Some have many, some less, some are said, others unsaid, but a common factor is that we all have them.

If you can accept this prerequisite, you will also understand that all people have a right to opinions, because without opinions, no actions, and without actions you will not be able to fulfill basic physical and psychological needs.

Mentality and behavior are inseparable and therefore changing behavior becomes a question of changing mentality – a question of changing attitude.

The task of the manager is to create and maintain attitudes, which are tailored to solving the tasks and needs of the organization and the individual. In a sports club a typical task will be to win competitions. Attitudes, and thereby behavior, must support the need to win that exists in the club or the athlete. The important question is therefore how management can create attitudes in several individuals, while simultaneously supporting a communal need to perform optimally to win.

If we focus only on the goal, we often overlook the most important attitudes that make us perform because these attitudes are the basis for the behavior which makes us able to win. If we focus too much on the individual, we overlook the attitudes of the collective and risk losing persons who can help optimize our performance.

Working with mental management means valuing the attitudes and thoughts of your environment.You must accept that the right to attitudes and opinions also means that you are responsible for the attitudes and opinions you help create.

Everyone has attitudes to oneself. These are the kind of attitudes that are most difficult to change. No matter what they are, most of us have firm opinions on who we are and what we are capable of, and these opinions can be extremely difficult to get rid of or change simply because we have accepted them and learned to live with them. We have learned behavior which supports our attitudes and thoughts.

Mental management starts with you, with your own attitudes to yourself; you must confront yourself and your self-image, which means your perception of yourself. If you are not capable of recognizing your fixed attitudes and thoughts, you will not be able to develop the kind of empathy that is a requirement for all positive management. This means that your opportunities for contribution to mentality development in yourself and others are diminished.

First, recognizing your own attitudes means that you have enough insight to understand the importance of your attitudes. This process of self-recognition demands that you surround yourself with people who do not function as your “mirror”; you need people who honestly and sincerely challenge the validity of your attitudes. Through this opposition you can develop new self-recognition.

In the following, I present the reader some of the managers I have encountered, and some of the traits I have determined to be the requirements for their own self recognition and mental management – both the good and bad.





Everyone is born into a culture. As a Dane, I am born into Danish culture, which means that I, to a large extent, have Danish values. I see myself relative to the current set of values and learn to live in accordance with these values. The Danish culture teaches me what is good and bad, right and wrong, and thereby determines when I can feel part of the culture and when I am out of its bounds. The Danish culture also demands something of me and my behavior. It frames my experiences, shaping me into the person I am.


A company creates the frames of the culture it develops. If a business is developing salespeople with the willpower to sell, a culture supporting it has to be in place as the foundation for this development. And if a sports club wants to develop players who are mentally strong fighters, the culture must first be in place. But what does that mean? How is culture created? The first culture affecting most of us is our family culture. In the family, we learn about the frames for our lives inside the family. The frames our parents give us are equal to the opportunities and obstacles they give us, and the guidance we receive from our parents. This is what most people call parenting. You learn by seeing what mom and dad do, how they do it and when there is coherence between what they say and do. You try to learn from their emotional reactions or lack thereof, and with the skills you have been taught in your family structure, you must now fight your own way through life and try to find your way in other cultural settings. This way, all the cultural settings you are a part of becomes part of your experience of yourself, your self-recognition, your identity.

The cultural process is not any different in companies, organizations, schools or other places where culture is created. Here it is the sum of the frames given, and not least the way in which they are given, that form the basis of the lifestyle, the environment and the attitudes created there.



Mentality is the conscious and unconscious conceptions which form the basis for your actions. The reason for your mentality comes from your attitude to what is good and bad, right or wrong, what you learned from your family structure, or what you learn from the company or organization you take part in as an adult. It can be attitudes towards cooperation, religion, crime and, not least, other people – especially those who, directly or indirectly, influence your life. Thus, mentality is based on your attitudes and creates the foundation for your lifestyle, and the way you choose to live your life.

Attitudes are thoughts. Thoughts are the basis of mentality. Mentality is the reason for your actions.

A possible example is that you, as a manager, are restricted by the board of directors or politicians, so you are unable to act in a particular manner towards employees. The thoughts you have about how to handle this situation, both relative to those who restrict you and your coworkers, are an expression of your mental strength in the given situation. In the particular situation, your mentality becomes important for your behavior (will you remain calm, happy and retain your overview?) and therefore important for your leadership performance. Your attitudes and mental values are an expression of what you have been taught from the cultures you have experienced, and as expressions they become part of other people’s perceptions of you and your behavior.



Behavior, the way you conduct yourself, always springs from the cultures you have been part of, and the attitudes you have learned from those cultures. It is through your attitudes you display your behavior. If I have a negative attitude towards people who are different from me, this attitude will affect my behavior towards these people. Were I to live as an outlaw biker, the values existing in biker culture – both the good and bad – would be the basis of my mentality, which would then go on to become the basis of the behavior and way I conduct myself. If I am a part of a company culture where everybody is the architect of their own fortune, and where I am solely working for my own gain, my attitudes and behavior will gradually be changed to become a representation of that company culture. Is it the mentality of the individual that creates biker culture, or is it the biker culture that creates the mentality of the individual? Is it a specific manager mentality that creates a company culture where everyone is the architect of their own fortune, or is the specific culture that creates this egoistic attitude and mentality? Often you seek out the cultures that fit your mentality, and thus a specific manager mentality seeks out similar manager mentalities. Whatever the shape of the culture in question and how you arrive at it, the culture will back the mentality you carry with you or affect you to develop a mentality that fits into the new environment. A manager’s credibility is perceived as an immediate connection between his attitudes and actual behavior, and therefore culture and mentality are the foundation for your behavior: for what you do, and what you think. In order to work with self-recognition, it requires your recognition of the self-image that is created in interactions between you and other people. Further complications arise when we throw the subconscious into the mix: you actually have attitudes and mentality that you actively exhibit, but that you are not aware of. In this manner, your perception of your self is an interaction between attitudes you are conscious and unconscious of, and the behavior these attitudes lead to.


Your identity is created by your behavior. It is from the experience of what you can and cannot, how you behave and how you do not behave, that you create a self-image of who you are. The identity “I am a manager” or “I am a skilled coworker” springs from your own perception of your behavior: “I act as a manager” or “I act as a skilled coworker”. You cannot buy identity, you can only buy titles. You cannot dress up in an identity by wearing a suit: the exterior can only support what you already are. Therefore, there is a great difference if you see yourself, and your identity, as a manager or a good coworker. Within mental management, your management identity is the same as the cultures you have lived through, the attitudes and opinions you have learned, and the behavior you exhibit towards others. Identity is created in the individual situation as an interaction between how you see yourself and how others see you, and in this way you do not hold the key to the truth about your identity as a manager. The truth about you is somewhere between your coworkers and employees perceptions of you and your own experience of yourself. This is important to understand if you want to work with mental management.


One of the greatest paradoxes in the world of sports – a world which claims to develop people primed for peak performance – is that, on the managerial level, staff is not selected on the basis of their skills. When it comes to choosing performers, talents, players and athletes, the world of sports has an image of strenuously finding the right skills, both technical and physical. When it comes to managerial talent and skills, you will not find the same efforts. There is a great discrepancy among the different levels in the organizational hierarchy. Not only are sports organizations oblivious to technical and human/mental skills when it comes to recruiting leaders, I think they are deliberately trying to keep the most competent from positions in the organization because they are a threat to the existing leaders and management. One wonders that you in the world of football have a saying that goes: “you are never better than your last match”, while at the same time seeing former players being selected for managerial positions purely on the basis of past performances as players, and not because of experience as managers or their results. I claim, and it is a claim based in more than 35 years of experience and knowledge, that managerial recruitment mainly happens through what I would call personal relationships. Knowing the right people or having friends in an organization has a greater bearing than the skills which would be able to contribute to a positive development in the organization.

The following selection criteria are dominant when it comes to selecting leaders in sports organizations:

Personal relationships

Loyalty and willingness to submit to power

Knowledge of the sport from a previous career as an athlete

The ability to keep secrets

Professional technical knowledge

Organizational knowledge

Management style


I have wondered why a culture that claims to be a performance culture would not hire the best leaders to start with. Besides friendships, nepotism and the like, which factors are in play? Is it a special type of people that are attracted to the sports organizations, and if so, why? Which traits are shared by the managers I have met, or are there even any common characteristics?

The next three chapters will each give a summary of the three manager types I consider common for sports organizations and sports companies: the autocratic leader, the humanistic and democratic leader and, finally, the psychopathic leader.

Since I am going to be describing overall personality types, I will obviously have to paint with broad strokes. The reader should know that there are nuances I do not have time to go into.″