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A leadership lesson from the World Cup

Colliers REview Singapore blog - ESS leadership lesson from football world cup

Aside from the fancy stepovers, audacious free kicks and neat one-twos, the 64-match tournament offers a masterclass in management and self-motivation all within the span of a month.

World-class footballing talent - as well as leadership qualities - are on display at the FIFA World Cup 2018 which started brightly on June 14 in Russia. Aside from the fancy stepovers, audacious free kicks and neat one-twos, the 64-match tournament offers a masterclass in management and self-motivation all within the span of a month.
Played before a global audience, small nations such as Iceland, Serbia and Croatia have confounded punters by drawing with or beating more illustrious opponents in their opening matches. Iceland, with a population of just 330,000, famously held off the mighty Argentina with its dogged defence and industry all over the pitch, proving that tenacity, teamwork and discipline can make a big difference.
In this special feature, Colliers REview asked business executives at the real estate consultancy firm about their key take-aways and leadership lessons from the World Cup.
“Situations and people have lessons to teach, if we care enough to look or listen. For me, some of the key learnings from the World Cup are around human capital development and having the boldness and focus to stay the course despite encountering adversities.
Corporate leaders can draw useful HR lessons from the tournament, specifically in talent development and youth mentorship. Amid the talent hunt, corporates must not forget that the ‘hire for attitude and train for skills’ approach remains critical in human resource management. Many of the world’s top players would probably not have enjoyed such heightened levels of success if they didn’t also have a positive mindset and a can-do spirit.   I can’t stress enough the importance of teamwork and collective effort. I’ve caught a few World Cup games in Russia and one that stood out was Australia’s opener against France which the Aussies lost. They had a strong game but what impressed me was how the players and coach rallied in front of their fans in a team huddle after the match ended. It demonstrated solidarity and mutual support – all very good attributes in the business world too.”
“My piece of leadership advice is this: do not fake it, and most importantly do not whine. Who likes whiners? Be the kind of person who sees opportunities not issues, be the one who initiates the change not the one who resists it, and be the one who fixes the problems not the one who is pointing at them. Ultimately, if you are faking it and whining like some of the players do on the field, you will lose all credibility and respect from your people no matter how good you are.” 
“Beyond the power of teamwork, the World Cup showcases the players’ commitment towards a shared goal and speaks of the hard work and dedication that went into preparing for the tournament. It goes to show that practice makes perfect and effective collaboration can bring out the best of individuals within the team. As much as we celebrate the big wins, it is also important to develop a culture that celebrates failure as a step towards achieving eventual success. There are always little wins and learnings within each journey which will help us do better next time. It is also about acknowledging and learning from mistakes and cultivating resilience.
While it is important to strive for success, we should not forget to notice our progress. If you look at some of the participating countries, they see it as an achievement just to have qualified for the tournament, playing in front of millions of viewers worldwide. Take some time to observe how far you have come and draw encouragement from it.” 



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