I am yet to meet anyone who wouldn’t like to punch Cristiano Ronaldo in the face, even just a little bit. I’m not a violent person – I’m sure you’re not either – but there’s just something about him, right? (Cristiano, I’m sure you’re an avid follower of the blog – if you’re reading this it’s nothing personal…)


It was over the course of the Euros that I realised just how common the desire to slap Ronaldo in the chops is. Friends, work associates and clients from every sector, profession and background all mentioned how ANGRY he makes them.


But why?


He’s obnoxious, but that’s par for the course. He was rude about Iceland in the groups, but he’s rude all the time. He’s arrogant and petulant, but why shouldn’t he be? He’s a player at the top of his game who just led his lacklustre, slightly jammy national team to their first ever major international tournament victory.


None of those things really demands such a visceral reaction from strangers.


I think the thing that really riles people is this: Ronaldo is indisputably one of the greatest footballers of all time.  He’s got the awards and the scoring record to prove it. Pele said he’s better than Messi. Even Alex Ferguson took a short break from chewing his gum and looking like he’d licked piss off nettle to mumble something complimentary about him.


That’s what really bugs people about Ronaldo. He’s arrogant… and he’s right.


Ronaldo himself once said “maybe they hate me because I’m too good”. Like almost everything about him, it’s infuriating and true.


It’s a cocktail of envy and frustration that Ronaldo’s arrogance is consistently proved to be justified that makes people find him so repellent. And both of those emotions are powerful ones in the workplace – particularly in an industry as competition-driven and ego-reliant as Sales. The higher people climb and the better they know they are the more people want to knock them down.


As a sales leader, you need to recognise and manage those emotions. Reactions to envy can range from dismissal of a person or their achievements to a complete refusal to engage with the people, processes or systems that made that person successful. In a fast-paced sales environment, that can quickly cause interpersonal tensions, distancing from peers and a lack of rep engagement.


The good news is that those reactions are often simply the result of the one person feeling like another has been given unfair advantages or more than their share of luck, resulting in numbers and rewards that are undeserved and unattainable to others.


The key to maintaining healthy competition then is to have a system of training, account allocation and progression that everyone feels engaged with and invested in. Transparent quotas and rewards systems help, as does open communication and airing of grievances. Build regular reviews and meetings with reps into your process, and look out for reps disparaging each other’s achievements, refusing to engage in healthy competition and collaboration, or falling short in communication with team leaders and peers.


Otherwise you’ll have a Cristiano Ronaldo situation on your hands. And everyone wants to punch Cristiano Ronaldo in the face.



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– Tom @WSL