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Reflections on the World Cup

At our house these days, everyone is enjoying watching and talking about the World Cup Soccer tournament. This afternoon finds four teenage boys gathered around the TV and computer, eating pizza, watching the semi-final game, and throwing a miniature ball around the room. Even Ted, our Manx cat, enjoys getting in on the action.

Some random Organization Development observations about the World Cup:

  • Communication. Whether arranging a semi-final game party via text messaging or moving the ball down the field effectively, it won’t happen without engaging each other verbally and non-verbally.
  • Social and emotional intelligence. Being attuned and aware of those around you, building pride in accomplishments, sharing a common goal, coaching others – all come into play during a soccer match.
  • Preparation followed with flexibility and adaptability. Vince Lombardi said, “Only perfect practice makes perfect.” Yet, even with perfect practice, once on the field of play, flexibility and adaptability are what winning teams use to find a way to win.
  • Motivation. It’s not enough for the coach to want to win, each player has to want to win too. I witnessed some of the games where star players clearly weren’t finding the passion within themselves while the lower ranked team had members who gave their best energy and won the game.
  • Celebration. Cheering, shouting, and wearing the team colors are all ways of demonstrating support and providing instant feedback on how things are going. And yes, it’s more fun when you win!

Rosabeth Moss Kanter adds some thoughts on World Cup Leadership Lessons at her HBR blog. Her conclusion:

The lessons for leaders: Your job is to provide resources and support that build the confidence of players in themselves, each other, the team, and the excellence of the surrounding system. Ethics, fair play, mentoring, smooth transitions, continuity, and collaboration should not be luxuries or lip service; they create the margin of victory.

What organization development lessons have you discovered from the World Cup or other sports?

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