When we talk about teams, we often forget about what it actually takes to put a successful team together. For me, with the 2018 FIFA Soccer World Cup in full swing, it’s so amazing to watch these teams from all across the world and to witness how they work, interact and come together as individual parts of something bigger.
What we’ve seen a lot in this tournament is the rise of the underdog. Take, for example, the group stage match between the reigning world cup champions, Germany, and underdogs, Mexico. Throughout the game, we saw the Mexican team playing their hearts out against one of the tournament favourites. I’ve honestly never seen a team play like that. There was such beautiful harmony between the players. At all times, they knew where their teammates were and they worked together so seamlessly and effortlessly to win the game.
So, how can we as business leaders translate these examples of teamwork into our organisations? Here are a few tips:
Find the right fit: It’s all very well to hire the top employees, or to put the best players in your team, but if they don’t work well with everyone else, there are bound to be some problems. When putting your team together, you need to identify how different individuals complement each other. This also applies to different departments in your business – think of it as being like the broader coaching and medical staff – who form part of the broader team and must collaborate effectively to ensure that everyone performs at their best.
Communicate: Rules are important. With these in place, everyone in the team knows what is expected of them at all times. If you miss a meeting or a training session, there should be consequences, which must be understood by all members of the team. Getting this right comes down to having open channels of communication. If you’ve ever watched a football game, you’ll see that the players know who to pass to because their peers are signalling for the ball. If this doesn’t happen, the players run the risk of passing to the wrong person and losing possession. Modern businesses must establish a shared vision and strategy and use these goals and game plans to frame the planning stages, and, ultimately, execution.
Identify and develop leaders within your team: Why do sports teams have captains? Because when things aren’t going as planned and the opposition is ahead on the scoreboard, there needs to be a leader on the field who can rally the team, make sure that everyone keeps fighting and remind them of their game plan. The coach may be the team leader during practise, but on the field it’s the captain’s job to keep everyone going. These principles are the same in business.
Don’t be afraid to change things up: In sport, and in business, your team members are only as good as their last performance. This is where I come back to the rules. These are what you can use to gauge the quality of someone’s performance. Unfortunately, if someone isn’t performing as they should, they can really pull the whole team down. Here, a good leader needs to spend time advising and mentoring the person. And if this doesn’t work, it might be time to find a replacement.
Learn from your experiences: I’m sure the German football team walked off the field after losing to Mexico and spent a fair amount of time analysing the game. They probably sat together and watched a recording of the game, identifying where things went wrong and highlighting where they did well. These post-match reviews provide the team with an opportunity to reflect on the game and ensure they don’t make the same mistakes.
I am such a firm believer in the fact that nothing in this world is achieved by a single individual. Sure, an individual with the right amount of drive and a solid idea can achieve greatness. But at some point they’ve had the support of a team. Be it their parents, a friend, a teacher, a boss or colleague – when people work together, they can achieve great things.
I’m passionate about leadership and have written about it extensively on the Nebula blog. To access more of my insights about business strategy, teamwork and leadership, head to the blog by clicking here. Or you can subscribe to our monthly newsletter and have tips like these delivered straight to your inbox.