Lahm On Leadership: A Excerpt From a 2009 Interview

It appears that the leadership is a hot topic this week. So, I hope you will not be surprised if my next several posts are on this issue. There is an interview that Lahm gave to 11 Freunde magazine two years ago, published online on February 11, 2009. I do not know if Lahm’s point of view has changed since then. (Something tells me that it is pretty much the same.) I have been wanting to post this one for a while now. I remember reading it for the first time and thinking, “That is exactly what I am trying to prove to people. We all have a different take on what a leader should look/sound like.” I might want to think about posting other excerpts from this interview, since there are some things that seem interesting to me. In the meantime, here we go (keep in mind that it was 2009):

11 Freunde (11FR): If you had a choice, which team would you prefer to lead?

Lahm: At the moment, that is not an issue for me. One will have to consider [it] when it happens. If it ever happens. I have not thought about it since July, as Mark was to become captain. I know that my influence has grown.

11FR: Do you see yourself as a leading player?

Lahm: I don’t like the term.

11FR: Why not?

Lahm: What is a “leading player”? For me, there is no clear definition.


11FR: Stefan Effenberg was a leading player.

Lahm: Why was he a leading player? Because he said what in the open?

Bravo, Philipp. Love the way he turns it around.

11FR: Because he exuded presence on the pitch.

Lahm: If that is the criteria – okay, then, perhaps, I have another idea [a different understanding] of a leading player. Was Effenberg a leading player because he radiated presence or because he had presence? That is the difference. Today it’s not only one player who leads a team. Today, that demand is on many shoulders. Each individual has to take responsibility for the team in his own way. Look at Manchester United, the Champions League winner. There isn’t that leading player, not anymore.

Bravo again.

11FR: Earlier it was Roy Keane…

Lahm: That’s right, but time has changed. Or take Arsenal where you won’t find [just] one player around whom everything is built and [around whom everything] revolves.

(my translation, (c) unavis)


(Wow, he already said it two years ago. It is worth thinking about it. There you go. A small remark.)

I like how Lahm points out a fine difference between exuding presence and having presence. In fact, I do not think the word “to exude” will do, in this case, since its definition does not correspond to what Lahm means, in my humble opinion. I had trouble finding the right word. The reason Lahm distinguishes between the two is because,  – at least, according to this interview, – he believes one can emanate presence due to one’s looks, tone of voice, etc., or one can actually have it without demonstrating it for everyone else to see (for example, fans), whereas those around that person can feel it. In other words, it is like when I know I am not confident, but I try to show that I am, doing everything in my power to project that image; or perhaps, people see me as confident because I speak in a commanding tone of voice. But all of that does not mean I have confidence. That is, in my opinion, what Lahm emphasizes here. I love how he went to the bottom of the question.

With regard to my “precisely” comment, I have noticed that people simply do not want to/cannot realize the fact that each of us has his own definition of a leader, which corresponds to our values and beliefs. (Not to mention circumstances, etc.) I, personally, cannot come up with even occasion on which I said, “I do not think this person [put any name here] should be captain of this [any] team.”


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