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Champion Leadership Blog

Leadership Communication Lessons for Small Business from the World Cup Champions

The U.S. Women’s national soccer team captured its third World Cup last weekend with a dominating 5-2 win over Japan.

A New York Times feature on coach Jill Ellis described her coaching style as “connecting on a personal level with her players to build trust, though not at the expense of honesty or the collective needs of the team.”

Ellis was quoted as saying, “At my very first meeting I said I will connect with you, but I will always make decisions based on what I think is best for the team,’ ” Ellis said.

The story also noted “Ellis held one-on-one meetings with team leaders during the tournament, asking their opinions.”

Quotes from players in the article mentioned she actually incorporated some of the players suggestions.

A key change some of the players asked for was to play a more aggressive, offensive style as the tournament moved into the Knockout Round after getting their with a very successful, tight defensive approach.

Two keys any small business leader can take from Coach Ellis’ approach to create a championship workplace culture:

  • Ask employees for their opinions
  • Look for ways to incorporate the suggestions

Employees want to feel as if they are contributing to company success and are not just a cog in a machine.

Employees are human beings with a perspective much different from the company leaders. They see, feel and think differently.

Embrace those differences.

Use the ideas, insights, suggestions that are in the best interests of the company.

Doing so will help create championship employee performance because they will be able to see their contribution being incorporated and they will take more initiative looking for more ways to contribute.

Next time, we’ll explore some reasons why business leaders don’t take this approach.

’til next time, to add to the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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There are 3 comments. Add yours.

  1. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who get the credit.

    I think women do a better job of keeping their egos out of the collaboration and decision making process and thereby make better decisions for their teams and their companies.

    • Skip Weisman

      Thanks for stopping by and being inspired to contribute to the conversation.
      I definitely agree with your first statement.

      I also agree for the most part with your second statement with the caveat that, as with male led organizations, the stage has to be set at the top so that collaboration is rewarded fairly based on individual contributions to the effort. Because whenever I go into an organization made up of a majority of women, the women tell me “you know how women can be,” as I think sometimes they can get very competitive and cut throat towards each other.

      That’s why I think athletics is the perfect metaphor for business in this regard, not enough companies are focused on creating teamwork towards a higher purpose (The Championship) that provides all participants similar benefits and reasons to contribute. When everyone is comfortable with their role and the rewards it provides, which will be very similar to everyone else’s, it’s much easier to get everyone to buy in.

      I think I’ll write more about that next time, too.

      Thanks for commenting and please do so again.

  2. Sundar Varadarajan

    Very nice and inspiring article Skip. I always enjoy your article and writing. I couldn’t agree with you any more that constant communication and having regular one-one meetings with individuals will lead to better contribution from team and improve the overall morale. Leader should not only be a good communicator, but also a good listener.

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