image of a ball for football

World Cup Lessons for Leaders

England may not have made it to the final this year but it seems that leaders, teams and fans are all winners when they play together.

Who were the real World Cup winners – leaders, teams or fans?

Well, it appears that after nearly a month of high drama and excitement Football has now gone home. It felt a little bit like the Olympics, a little bit of a buzz around the place and although it was France who walked away with the trophy, I think that Football is the winner here.

Football was able to bring people together from different backgrounds, religions, genders and continents together in one place for 4 weeks. I can’t help but think that’s a good thing at the moment. Who can forget the Japanese fans staying around after the game to help clean the stadium? Panama scoring their first ever goal in a World Cup (against England) and reminding us that pride can just come from being part of it. In Mexico, during the South Korea-Germany game a crowd met with the consul general, Byoung-jin Han (wearing a Mexico shirt) and downed a bottle of tequila – Lad. And one of my stand out moments was Gareth Southgate consoling Colombia’s Mateus Uribe who missed a penalty. Football can be very tribal but in that moment it showed its humanity.

What can those of us with normal jobs learn from all this?

  1. Well, just look at the team dynamic when a manager believes in their potential – Gareth Southgate has spent significant time nurturing the talent of his young players and getting them to connect, communicate and collaborate as one team
  2. Southgate’s style is very authentic – he role-models ‘human leadership’, not afraid to give his players a hug and recognise their emotional experience; and able to balance celebratory feedback with growth feedback
  3. See how focusing on the ‘employee experience’ as much as the result, builds team agility and resilience
  4. Notice how the culture of the England team has shifted and the positive impact on their ‘brand reputation’…
  5. Every player; every fan (almost) is enjoying the productive energy that comes from adopting a growth mindset

It seems that leaders, teams and fans are all winners when they play together.

And to those who are new converts to football and thinking “Ahh, when can I get my next fix of sweet joy and disappointment?” the Premier League starts again in 4 weeks.

Image of the silhouettes goalkeeper catching a football at sunset

Paul Chamberlain