World cup leadership and team lessons

brasil 2014So the football world cup is over for another four years. But can we learn any lessons on leadership and the value of the team? I think we can.

Look at the surprise team of the tournament – Costa Rica. Tagged as the whipping boys in a group of death, they surprised everyone by winning the group. They were a model of organisation with everyone in the team playing for each other. The result was a synergy and solidity that England could only marvel at.

Now look at the hosts, Brazil. In their game against Germany leadership was absent and as a result a very average team were exposed for what they are – mediocre. Neymar, their talisman was absent and they missed him as a rallying figure. Silva their leader and organiser was suspended and they sorely missed his organisational and ‘lead by example’ qualities. The lesson is that Silva’s leadership in earlier rounds enabled the team (with a little generous refereeing) to get further than raw ability indicated was achievable. Good leaders achieve synergy.

Their opponents and ultimate winners of the tournament, Germany, showed a mix of organisation and flair. They had all the ingredients of a winning team. Exceptional players doing lots of little things right at the right time. Neuer was the rock in goal who was like having an extra defender as well. His impregnability gave the defence its confidence. Schweinsteiger was constantly busy in midfield putting in endless little crucial tackles. And there was the finishing brilliance of Gotze.

And like all good teams, they were not an accident or created over night. It took years of nurturing, planning and practice. You may not have the luxury of years of preparation or the widest choice of resources. But there are things you can do to assess your team’s strengths and weaknesses. There are things yo can do to compensate for gaps. There are things you can do to motivate, inspire and lead your team. To achieve that synergy

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Leadership was absent in the Brasil team last night and as a result a very average team were exposed for what they are – mediocre. Neymar is not their leader, he was their talisman. Silva was their leader but was suspended and they sorely missed his organisational and ‘lead by example’ qualities. The lesson is that Silva’s leadership in earlier rounds enabled the team (with a little generous refereeing) to get further than raw ability indicated was achievable. Good leaders achieve synergy.

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