Accountability in the Face of Defeat

A quote that always inspires me is “A real leader faces the music, even when he doesn’t like the tune.” It reminds me of the time when I saw that Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari took full accountability for the record 1-7 humiliating defeat at the hands of Germany in the World Cup I was very happy because Scolari showed the way a leader should behave.

In an interview, when asked who was responsible, Scolari responded.

Who is responsible? Who is responsible for picking the team? I am. It’s me.

So the catastrophic result can be shared by the whole group, and my players will tell you we will share our responsibilities, but who decided the tactics? I did.

So the person responsible is me.

I did what I thought was best. This was only our third defeat in 28 matches, even if it was a terrible defeat.

Naturally, if I were to think of my life as a player, as a coach, and as a teacher, this was the worst day of my life.

But life goes on. I’ll be remembered probably because I lost 7-1, the worst defeat Brazil has ever had, but that was a risk I knew I was taking when I accepted this position.”

Not only did Scolari accept the blame, but he also refused to make or even accept any excuses when it was mentioned that the absence of his best player might have been a cause for the defeat.

No, no, no. Let’s not try to find an excuse for Neymar,” Scolari said. “I don’t think it would have been different with Neymar. He’s a striker. Germany probably could have done that with Neymar in the side, also. He wouldn’t have known how to defend those moves for the second, third, fourth, and fifth goals.

It would have been so easy for Scolari to accept any of the reasons offered for defeat in order to deflect the blame from himself; he could also have said the players had let him down, especially his captain, David Luiz, who put in a terrible performance.

But no, Scolari chose to accept that, as the leader, the defeat was his responsibility; he was accountable.

What impresses me most is that he did this in the wake of a record defeat for Brazil; not only was it a record, but it happened at home and in a World Cup Semi-Final. A World Cup that many expected Brazil to win.

Scolari said himself that the day of the defeat was the worst day of his life.

Yet he still chose to take it on the chin and accept full accountability for the worst day in Brazilian football history.

So when it comes to facing the music, I doubt that there could be many tunes worse than this.

I disagreed with some of Scolari’s tactics and some of his player selections, but I do agree with his stance here, and my respect for the man has grown immeasurably.

Scolari is a real leader, irrespective of the results.

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