Lessons From Football

As a leader, you face the football coach’s perennial dilemma – how to balance the needs of both individual and team interests!

The beauty of teams is that though they are a collective effort, individual uniqueness and expression is not only encouraged and rewarded, it is essential – it is a person’s very uniqueness that makes him valuable to a team.The better the individual performance is the greater the collective effort as long as all eyes are on the same shared goal under sound leadership. Teams are the building blocks of an organization and TRUE teams counteract the negative aspects of Ghanaian/African culture:

Teamwork cuts down on jealousy and Pull Him Down (P.H.D.) Before you can join a team, you must assess your strengths and what you can offer. Dede Ayew deserves a place on the team as much as Richard Kingston. By the time you get to the team, you value yourself and there is little time or energy to spend dragging others down; in fact, you need them to show up the best in you!

Under sound leadership, a team puts people in close proximity in a culture of mutual admiration rather than deep suspicion. Teams bring people together not in competition with each other but in internal competition with themselves to be their best selves for the team. However, the leader needs to ensure this does not mean the team collapses into a series of one-man shows (something the Black Stars have been accused of in the past).

Teamwork kills people-pleasing and dependency. In a team, you must justify your inclusion. You cannot hide behind another team member. Imagine Dede Ayew trying to hide behind Sule Muntari as he played – football may be a team game but an individual who is over depending on the work of other team members is soon found out under good coaching.

Football, like life, requires INTERdependency not OVERdependency or Independency. Someone who is merely putting on a one woman show will soon become redundant – magical dribbling skills may be entertaining, but alone they don’t get results (score goals).

Teamwork produces the most exacting form of accountability of all – this is accountability to your peers rather than to an abstract big boss who may be seen as well off enough already not to notice a few missing millions. Teams foster the idea that this is OUR project, OUR money, OUR goal, OUR materials so if any one person messes it up then he or she is accountable to all of US.

There are many lessons from football that can help the serious African organization to greatly increase its productivity. With true team work, we are like a supercharged Black Star team on the way to true victory – heading for our goal of organizational success, lifting the cup of Ghana high!