Can World Cup 2018 teach us anything about work?
(Note: This was written before the semi-finals – Let’s hope we’ve brought it home!)
It wasn’t supposed to be this way, this was meant to be Messi’s World Cup, or Ronaldo’s or Neymar’s. Yet, as I sit here writing this one day away from the the World Cup 2018 Semi Finals, those three superstars are left wondering what could have been and there’s a 25% chance that Roberto Martinez and Marouane Fellaini are about to become the most unlikely World Cup winning duo since Russia and Qatar were awarded the rights to host the thing.
For me it’s been an incredible World Cup full of great games, great goals and surprises, it’s also been one were the quote/unquote “best players in the world” haven’t been able to do all the work on their own and the true success stories have been with the teams that actually played as teams.
Take Argentina, despite what the hyperbole of the press might tell you I don’t believe Lionel Messi had a poor individual tournament. He nearly dragged his team back into their Second Round match with France single handedly when they were overmatched and still set up two goals despite being marked by about 3 players the entire game. Ronaldo scored a stunning hat-trick in the opening match and Neymar didn’t look too bad the 50% of the time he wasn’t rolling on the ground, but in the end no one can do everything on their own. Relying too much on one player to come good was an issue that Argentina, Portugal and Brazil faced this year and I think one businesses should remember, you need to work as a team to achieve big goals!
Resting On Your Laurels
I was in Berlin the night Germany won the World Cup in 2014, it was incredible, the city was buzzing and the German team that was only a few days removed from demolishing Brazil with seven goals deserved to win the tournament. Fast forward four years and basically the same team (minus the great Miroslav Klose who even at 40 and retired would probably have nicked a goal or two this year) went out in the Group Stages, embarrassed by the South Koreans and ending up maybe the worst German side in my lifetime. Their performances were pretty listless and I got the feeling that half the team would rather be joining Italy, Holland and Scotland (we’re just warming up for 2022) on their holidays this summer.
Is there a lesson here? Not resting on your laurels sounds about right, whether it’s football or business you take your eye off the ball too long, let a bit of complacency slip in and well, you could be yesterday’s news. Keeping people motivated and excited for the next steps of their journeys isn’t always easy but it can pay off in big ways, whilst an unmotivated team is unlikely to reach their potential.
The Real Golden Generation
If I was playing up to cliche it’d be really easy for me to make the usual “As a Scotsman I support anyone but England” comments, but to be honest it’s been really enjoyable watching an England team play well in the tournament for the first time since 1996 (maybe 1998 at a push).
What I’m really enjoying is that previously unfashionable players like Jordan Pickford and Harry Maguire have played out of their skins and achieved things that the previous generation of England players, aka the “Golden Generation” of Terry/Ferdinand/Gerrard/Lampard et al were never able to. The 2018 edition of England went into the tournament with the lowest of expectations and but have worked hard and have earnt everything coming their way. Little bit trite, but there’s a lesson there. It also warms my heart a little that Gareth Southgate has been able to lead the way and succeed whilst being a total gent in the process.
Many of you will have seen the images of the England team racing inflatable Unicorns as a team building exercise earlier in the tournament and images like these show the good feeling that seems to have encompassed the England squad this year. The atmosphere Southgate cultivates is miles away from the cliche angry football manager and appears to be encouraging fun and mutual respect over fear and negativity. He’s also got the team well drilled and organised, no other team has scored as many goals from set pieces this year and every player looks assured of what their role in the team is.
So, is it coming home?
Well, if you’re putting me on the spot to pick a winner (as I write this the Semi Finals haven’t happened yet) let’s just say I’ve no doubt that a team made up of English Premiership Allstars and managed by one of the nicest guys in football are going to win it. 😉