What Will They Say When You Leave (Jurgen Klopp Edition)

Jurgen Klopp announced 2024 will be his last season as head coach of Liverpool FC. He’s brought the club league titles, championships, and a sense of identity that was sorely missing before he arrived in 2015. And despite the ache of seeing him go, the leadership lessons from his time are priceless. 

The one I’m stuck on right now is from his first public appearance as coach. 

He said something really special. Remember, this is before the accomplishments. This happened at a time when Liverpool had been ok but not great for… let’s just say a LONG time. 

On Klopp’s Day One, he said, 

It’s not so important what people think when you come in. It’s much more important what people think when you leave. 

He was joining a storied club with a troubled history. He was entering a league famous for coaches who barely make it a fraction of a season. He had all the hope in front of him and all the realism to remind the crowd of fans and savage English football reporters salivating to execute him. 

And he faced them all. And, in setting this course, he also let everybody know what really matters:

It’s much more important what people think when you leave.

There’s a lot of ways a leader can go out. And to have this idea in the front of your mind every day, it’s powerful. Not because you need to control the world, but because the players, fans, and your relationships will ultimately define not just your success, but the value of your time. 

Whatever the critics are going to say. This isn’t so much about them. They can debate the trophies now. But the players and the fans he’s touched. He got them here by following his northstar. 

It’s much more important what people think when you leave.

I am moved. He never walks alone. Klopp will be missed. 

Ps. More Liverpool stuff here (so much of this is directly linked to Klopp now that I think about it)