It’s finally over. The World Cup, soccer’s Super Bowl, is done. Germany wins. Now, back to real sports on television (kidding, kidding…).
Though, obvious by my snide comment, soccer isn't “my thing,” it clearly has a world following. Mostly because other countries don't have baseball, football--the real one :)--or basketball to watch during off-seasons, but no matter… millions watch soccer.
So, what can we learn from watching those games (assuming you did watch them)? Well, aside from “don't bet on the home team” (7-1 Brazil… seriously??), there are some leadership lessons buried within that larger-than-a-football-field arena…
1. Winning is not a one-man game. Soccer has stars, to be sure, but the players don’t have the luxury of quarters or periods. They go flat out for 45 minutes at a time. At any given time, one or more players are “flat-out,” while others are just “running hard,” the soccer version of on-field resting. 11 players on the field for each team, and it takes all 11 to win. The German team wasn't a collection of bought-and-paid-for stars (think Miami Heat), but a well-honed team of players who needed each other (synergy) to succeed.
2. Short-term actions, long-term view. There are 54 total matches played during the World Cup. Germany eventually won the World Cup by beating Argentina (the long-term goal), but had to win six matches (games) before that just for the opportunity. Strategy is necessary, of course, as are long-term goals. But it’s execution of the tactical that takes us to the end. In short, both are necessary for success.
3. Stopping the reverse pony-express. Long-term development of talent leads to long-term business success. A close friend of mine derides organizations for what he calls the “reverse pony-express syndrome,” whereby we ride a horse until it nearly drops, swap riders, and start again on the same horse. Germany is a great example of not doing that. As a true team, they relied on the collective versus one standout player; so much so that the MVP was actually awarded to a losing player. We don't need the best individuals to get the best results, we need folks who play well together and look out for the common good.
So, I may not be a soccer aficionado, and I may have screwed up some jargon above due to my ignorance (forgive me, European colleagues and friends), but the lessons are solid nonetheless, proving that even in the mind-numbingly boring, we can derive pearls of wisdom.
Did I mention I prefer real football?
But that’s just me…