THE TEAM IS ONLY AS GOOD AS ITS LEADER: & 14 other strategies for winning

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I’m gripped by the mens’ World Cup 2018 football, so much so that I have not watched any other television since it began. The entertainment, the drama, the skill, the fans, the muscles, the new haircuts for each match… shall I go on? The tournament is definitely designed with the brain in mind 😉 Well, you didn’t really think that I was going to miss an opportunity to write about it, did you?

Sport has much to tell us about leadership and team work and with our birds-eye view on all the action on the pitch and pre and post match media interviews, there is a lot that we can learn and apply, such as:

The leader has to lead (however give autonomy to the team where possible – this helps people to feel in control of their lives which increases life expectancy and happiness)

The leader, team and all support staff have all got to be working towards the same vision – and importantly at the same pace.

The leader needs to focus on team harmony and fostering good relationships within the team: humans are social and need to feel that they are part of the group to avoid unnecessary stress. (E.g. England manager, Gareth Southgate)

Strategy has to be prepared in advance, however flexibility is required when faced with unexpected circumstances and results: e.g. Belgium v Japan

The team’s reputation is everything: e.g. Brazil is feared and enjoys high status. Perceived status reduction in the brain of opponents activates the limbic system which impairs performance.

A team that relies too heavily on one star performer is not a strong team and is likely to crumble. (Insert many examples here!)

Doing an activity in unity before a big performance is good: e.g. singing opens up the lungs and therefore reduces stress.

Belief and a success mindset beats talent every time, when skill is relatively equal: as per other industries there are lots of footballers who could be more talented, however did not take the required action, persistent hard work and dogged determination to get to the top – and stay there!

Resilience is everything: the ability to bounce-back extremely quickly, often during the actual performance determines winners.

Go for the quick win… and then go again: speed is good and enjoying the dopamine and serotonin neuro-cocktail of success and importantly, acknowledging it, fuels future success – fast.

Practice makes almost perfect: planning moves in advance and rehearsing repeatedly means that the brain goes into automatic at the required time which is much more efficient (Commentators love reflecting on the efficacy of “set pieces”)

When someone leaves the team, ensure that their influence has fully left too: comparing to past success is demoralising for the current members (Ahem, Argentina!)

Gamify performance to increase motivation: can you imagine football without goals, potential for fouls, sending off and the dreaded penalties? Making it fun and the outcome uncertain, engages the brain.

Experiment with new ideas to improve performance: novelty holds the brain’s attention and humans are wired to improve and change (surely I can’t be the only one who has noticed that footballers have much more defined back muscles now? As seen in one of my favourite teams, Uruguay).

What do you think? Do you agree or have something to add?