Lessons On Managing A Team

So, the World Cup is over, and most people would say the best team won the final. Whatever your viewpoint, we can see from the amount of interest in the finals over the last month that many people follow it all with a passion. As managers, is there anything we can learn from the World Cup that can be applied in our workplaces?

Well, here are a few ideas:

1) Situational leadership will always win through: Managing a team in the World Cup is like leading a short-term project, run by remote teams in a matrix format, not having worked that much with each other before. The roles and responsibilities need to be aligned, and the strengths and skills have to be utilised in the best way.

This obviously didn’t happen with all teams in the tournament. Even Spain didn’t have the best players in all positions, but the spine of the team was skilled and talented enough to compensate for any weaknesses the opposition might expose.

Spain stuck to their game plan, even after they lost their very first game of the tournament. There were no panic buttons pressed, as they knew their strengths would win through.

So, analyse the situation before you make decisions about change and sticking to the game-plan might be more effective than making change for change sake.

2) Variety and adaptability creates winning formulae: This sounds contrary to point 1, but stick with me. If you only have Plan A and no plan B (did I hear someone mention England?) it will only work if you are sure and have proof that this plan is the most effective. If not, and the results will bear you out, you have to have some kind of varied and proactive plan of action to change the situation. Without it, you are stuck up the creek without the proverbial paddle.

3) Commitment and belief drives performance: Watching the style that teams played in the tournament proved that the manager has a key influence on how they perform. You can imagine the dressing room before they go out onto the field, and how the manager is convincing them they have the ability, the will and the confidence to go and do the job. Without this belief in the team, any manager will lose respect and, eventually, the passion from the team.

Whatever your feelings toward sport, it’s plain that we can often pick up good analogies that we can use within a management context. Learn from the successes and failures of the World Cup and you can expand your awareness of how teams can be lead in business.

Well done, Spain! The best team won! Probably!

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 14 July, 2010

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