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5 teamwork lessons from the World Cup

teamwork lessons from the World Cup

We’re reaching the semifinals stages of the World Cup, and boy has it been a tournament of surprises. The previous world champions, Germany, saw a shock elimination in the group stage, while star players Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi were sent packing after Portugal and Argentina’s defeat in the knockout phase.

As the action unfolds and tension heightens nearer to the finals, it becomes clear that great teamwork is what brings winning teams that far.

Whether you’re on the pitch or in the office, here are some lessons the matches can teach you about teamwork.

  1. Play up your individual strengths

    Every member brings different skill sets to the team. Some might think that success is guaranteed when you have a wonderful player like Messi, but his efforts alone cannot carry his team to the trophy. Great teams do not depend solely on a few star players – they develop a strategy based on a sum of the team’s core strengths.

    The secret to effective teamwork in the office is understanding your members’ individual skills, and integrating them into the team in the best way. When working on a team project, involve each member as much as possible, and get their help when needed. Don’t try to take on more than you can – focus on your strengths, and ask for help from other members when needed. One person cannot do it all, and over-reliance on individuals will backfire, just like how it failed for Argentina, Egypt, and Portugal.

  2. Clear communication

    Football is a collaborative sport, and every team comprises of players with their individual experiences and knowledge coming together to score a goal. Players understand their own roles and responsibilities, whether as a fullback to stop the opposing team from scoring, or as a winger to support their team’s attack.

    When assembling a team in the workplace, clear communication about the project’s goals and requirements will be the first step to achieving success. It’s best to lay all your cards on the table, and not hesitate to ask questions or set expectations. Every project requires a large variety of talent, and the role of each team member has to be clearly defined for each individual to contribute conductively and prevent misunderstandings.

  3. Celebrate milestones as a team

    In order to win the World Cup, teams have to go through a few qualifying rounds to advance into the next stage, and ultimately into the finals. Although the end goal is firmly on the minds of the players, they are focused on the present, celebrating every match won as it paves their path to victory.

    When you’re on a long-term project, seeing the end might seem like a distant dream when you’re fighting against deadlines, endless requests and hard-to-please clients. However, it is important to celebrate every milestone along the way to remind yourself that you’re a step closer to your goal.

  4. Positive team spirit

    The path to success is never smooth, and the same applies to those on the field. Even though Belgium was down two goals in their match with Japan, they kept their spirits up. What happened next was one of the greatest comebacks in World Cup history, as a trailing Belgium bounced back to score the winning goal in the final minutes.

    It’s normal to feel disheartened when your team receives negative feedback, especially after everyone has done your best. However, don’t let the failure get to you. Stay composed, and take it as an opportunity to bond with your team by tackling the problem together, and objectively analyse what worked and what did not.

  5. Learning to deal with difficult people

    Some teams may have the best starting XI they can have, but still can’t win a match. Often, it can boil down to a lack of cohesiveness in the team when not everyone is on the same page.

    In the workplace, you won’t always be working with people you get along well with, but you’ll have to learn to put your differences aside. Keep your frustration in check, and do not respond to bad behaviour. Be respectful, and act professionally at all times.

It’s important to remember that being on the same team does not make you a team. Teamwork makes the dream work, and working in sync towards the same goal is what good teamwork is about.

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