If you’ve been following the 2014 FIFA World Cup, you’re already aware of the rollercoaster of surprises, victories and early exits that have speckled the games so far. Neither England nor the reigning champion of the 2010 games, Spain, made it to the semi-finals – a surprise for soccer fans around the world. However, the truly exciting and inspiring team to watch has been our own Team USA.

Already a long-developing underdog story, Team USA has continued to show its potential in each World Cup. This year, the made an impressive showing, too, reaching the Round of 16. USA’s final game against Belgium ended 2-0, knocking us out, but this disappointment did not dishearten the team or its fans. Goalkeeper Tim Howard made an unheard-of 16 saves during the game – a record in World Cup history. His efforts sparked major social media buzz from fans, other professional sports players, and government officials including an invitation from the U.S. Secretary of Defense to visit the Pentagon. He made hero status and furthered solidified Team USA’s reputation and standing as a real contender in professional soccer around the world.

Now that Team USA is out of the running for the 2014 games, the team already has its sights set on the next goal: the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. This next, long-term goal will be planned for and executed just like any strategic goal set in your firm. The process you would follow to set your firm’s employees up for success follows a number of parallels to Team USA's pursuit of success, including:

  • Assessing the entity’s current state and establishing priorities and benchmarks. Team USA’s coach has already been discussing the changes that need to be made as they embark on the next four years. They will be looking at what worked and didn’t work in the years of practice and games leading up to the 2014 World Cup and the factors that ended up making or breaking their performance in Brazil. The team will work together to agree on top priorities for making it to the 2018 games and playing to win. They will practice and execute during their matches, working to perfect a team strategy that breeds success. When something isn’t working, the team will regroup to decide how to improve.
  • Developing team members and key players. Team USA will work with individual players to develop the skills best suited to each individual and their role in the team and on the field. The same occurs in your firm when you encourage fitting your people’s roles and responsibilities with their goals and interests and understand the importance of developing their abilities to enhance their functionality and contributions. Working with up-and-coming leaders to further exhibit leadership characteristics and the ability to mentor and motivate others happens on the field and in the office.
  • Appreciating individual and team contributions. Team USA’s fan base grew exponentially during the 2014 World Cup and the effort the players exhibited throughout the journey. Despite Tim Howard’s awesome defense performance in the last game, he demonstrated his leadership and great character when he continued to tout the cohesiveness and playing abilities of his entire team. Transformational leaders in the profession work to motivate their team members and show appreciation for the contributions each individual makes toward the success of the group and the organization.
  • Maintaining a unified vision. The recurring chant heard from USA players and fans during the 2014 World Cup had been “I believe that we will win.” The mantra was repeated over and over and made the energy palpable even through the TV screen. USA’s coach mentioned the plan to rework the team’s mental approach as it heads back to the practice field to one that will inspire and drive the team toward its goals. In any organization, establishing a vision of what the team wants to achieve and working to reiterate that vision keeps team members on the same page and motivated.

It’s encouraging when a team of people identifies a new goal to pursue and creates a strategy for achieving that goal. Just like a sports team, there are wins and losses that help shape the process and allow the members to re-assess and improve upon capabilities. How is your team motivated to win? How do you play to each other’s strengths and weaknesses to create a collaborative and high-functioning team working toward the same goals and vision? Please share with us in the comment box below, we love to hear your feedback!

Warm regards,