Career & Management Lessons from the Ronaldo vs Messi Debate

Who is the Greatest of all times ?

Photo by Quentin Kemmel on Unsplash

“Imagine if Albert Einstein had been told, just as he was developing his theory of relativity, that he needed to stop spending so much time alone with his work and instead take on management responsibilities for a team of people. The result would have been a frustrated Einstein, a demoralized and poorly managed team, and a great loss to humanity’s understanding of the universe.”

June 30th is the last day of the first half of the year, a day people often allude to being the final day in the transition to the better half of the year. July isthe 7th month, is also known in some popular circles as the month of Perfection. This year June 30th day marked would be remembered as the day the two world greatest football players — Messi and Ronaldo — left the world cup, finally we got the chance to rest from the constant comparisons — Who is the Greatest Of All Times (GOAT)?

Personally, I think the argument is pointless because I’ve never seen anyone converted in these discussions(If you have please I’d love to hear your story). Allegiance to one party is mostly due to emotional bond and affinity to the personality either because he plays(ed) for your favorite club or you just like him, while we use performance statistics to defend our points, deep inside you know it’s more than the stats. Logic is the explanation we often give for emotional attachment.

On the 9th of July, The world got to know that Ronaldo would move to Juventus after 9 years at Real Madrid, making this his 3 club move - from Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United in 2003, then from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009, then now from Madrid to Juventus in 2018, this resurrected the comparison again because Lionel Messi has spent his entire Career at Barcelona.

It appears a player is marked as being more successful if he proves himself in different clubs in different leagues as opposed to a player who consistently plays well in one club. It kinda makes sense that taking new opportunities/challenges is seen as the stuff of legends but in the end, stars are judged by their results. I’m not here to argue about who is the GOAT, I don’t care, it’s too subjective to worth a discussion but I’d like to talk how this conversation reminds of a lesson I learnt while reading radical candor.

In the book Radical Candor, Kim Scott talks about two types of employees — Rockstars and Superstars.

Rockstars: People who love stability/ gradual growth and are content with being in the same role over time, could be Developers, Accountants, Designers.

Superstars: People who love steep growth, always seeking the next role or opportunity — anyone in any role really.

She makes a point that Managers tend to favour superstars in terms of reward and look down on Rockstars as people merely content with the status quo, calling it a flawed worldview and stating that rising to management level isn’t and shouldn’t be the goal of everyone, some people are meant to just keep doing the same thing.

Note: The title Rockstar and Superstar also isn’t a fixed status, people could take up either title due to changes in life e.g Most people start off their careers as superstars but might choose to be rock stars when expecting a baby or wanting to spend more time with their family.

She also gives advice to managers on how to manage these different kinds of people.

Rock Stars

“What’s the best way to manage rock stars, the people whom you can count on to deliver great results year after year? You need to recognize them to keep them happy. For too many bosses, “recognition” means “promotion.” But in most cases, this is a big mistake. Promotion often puts these people in roles they are not as well-suited for or don’t want. The key is to recognize their contribution in other ways. It may be a bonus or a raise. Or, if they like public speaking, get them to present at your all-hands meetings or other big events. If they like teaching, get them to help new people learn their roles faster. Or if they are shy, make sure that you and others on the team thank them privately for the work they do. Consider, carefully, tenure awards. If your organization gives performance ratings and/or bonuses, make sure they are fair to the rock stars.”


“The best way to keep superstars happy is to challenge them and make sure they are constantly learning. Give them new opportunities, even when it is sometimes more work than seems feasible for one person to do. Figure out what the next job for them will be. Build an intellectual partnership with them. Find them mentors from outside your team or organization — people who have even more to offer than you do.”

Remember Albert Einstein? He was a Rockstar!

Prior to reading this, I always thought Rockstars had shallow aspirations and were just content with the status quo, I realized that even though I tend to lean more on superstar side as an employee, I’d from time to time want to just be a Rockstar 😎

I know the analogy doesn’t really fit the case of Messi and Ronaldo because a move to another club is simply a change of environment and not a change of role per say but maybe it’s okay to have a GOAT that would play well in only one club throughout his career and maybe it’s also okay to have a GOAT that would play in different clubs throughout his career. Maybe there’s no one definition of a GOAT or how a GOAT should behave because we are all different and so are our value systems.

Thanks to Nnedimkpa Nnadi for recommending the book Radical Candor

Thanks for reading, I hope you learned something from my post. You can reach out on any platform @danieltadeyemi and visit my website where you can sign up for my newsletter to get monthly updates on my progress or what I’m learning.

Deliberate Amateur | Interested in business, design, storytelling, psychology, products, economics, technology |Find me @danieltadeyemi or