30 days of world cup in South Africa are over now. We have watched many of the games, and followed the stories around the games, and the teams. One of the more interesting facts, now also talked about in the media, is that it was a “teams” world cup rather than a “stars” one. Seems that teams won games, and not individuals. We thought we could learn a few lessons from this, and from a few other observations we’ve made during the games.

Think of your company, project and team and you’ll see it applies nicely.

Built right

Teams that are built right, have more success. Germany, Spain, Netherlands are teams that come from countries with a tradition of working right with players, starting at a very young age. Nothing is left to luck or dependent on talent. hard work, teaching the basics and long term plans brought them to the top.

  • Hard work – working with kids, taking them all the way, step by step, until they are ready and old enough to join the “real thing”. There are no compromises about training, more than once a day for many years.
  • No room for luck – starting with little kids, all the training, diet instructions, psychological aspects and physical conditions are all designed and monitored by the best experts. Plans are made carefully and trainers, coaches, doctors and others are following each step making sure everything is done as it should be.
  • Talent is not enough – a team can’t rely on one or even a few talents. A team has to be a team, each one contributing his part in the total effort to achieve the team goals. Building the right mixture of roles, and making sure all are in social harmony is important as much as each individual talent (and take Argentina as an example for talents vs. team work and achievement).

Work Gradually

Many teams try to skip the work and time of gradual and right process. They spend money (lots of it) on bringing the best players in an effort to win NOW. In most cases it doesn’t work. The examples are many – take Real Madrid football club and its failures to win the championship in the Spanish league, although bought all available expensive players. On the other hand, Barcelona has one of the best youth football academic clubs and they enjoy the products of it every year in the shape of 1-2 great new players (so many examples here, best known is Lionel Messi who grew in the Barcelona football club academy).

  • Don’t just bring the best there are out there. Make sure your environment and culture encourage learning, professional growth and get yourself better “home players”.
  • Make sure your “players” can work together. Sometimes 1+1 is more than 2 and sometimes it might be less. A good team is built slowly, making sure each of its members is the right fit, not only for his role, but in the greater picture of the team as well.

Team, Team

We’ve mentioned above already the need to work as a team. France was kicked our early because they were not a team, had many internal issues between players and between players and management. Same happened to the Netherlands in a few previous tournaments, were although had many talents and great opportunity failed to win.

Your team is a group of individuals who work together. They have to be synchronized, pull the wagon to the same direction. Each one has to know what is his part of the overall work, where can he contribute mostly and how. They must be able to help each other, overcome mistakes together and take advantage of good ideas and opportunities.

They also must trust their team leader and have confidence he leads them on the right direction. You know what happens if the coach says one thing and players do something else, each one what he thinks best.

Were would we be without Passion

It was obvious during the games that teams with less talents can try to close this gap with a passionate game. Have you see the South Korean running? Did you watch Uruguay “burning” the field or the USA squad giving it all?

Now imagine you have an A team with a few great talents, with this kind of passion….

Make sure your team is passionate about their work. Involve them, give them good example, make them believe – and they’ll bring their best act.

See you in Rio in 4 years :-)