Some things that football can teach us

I love football and read a lot of interviews with players because I’m interested in the psychology of competing and of team dynamics. And, I’m interested to hear of strategies, tactics and behaviour that can be transferred and used in a business context. Recently, two things have struck me that can easily be used to benefits all teams and all team members.

When we are a team member and things don’t go well, if we make a mistake or just don’t perform to our best ability, then we need to take responsibility for our short-comings. That’s pretty obvious! But I recently read about a way of taking this one stage further: if a colleague makes a mistake we can ask ourselves if there was anything we did that contributed, or we can ask ourselves if there was anything else we could have done that would have helped to avoid the mistake.

For example, in the context of football, if a teammate delivers a bad pass, fumbles the reception of the ball, or doesn’t react quickly enough, we might ask ourselves ‘could I have been in a better position?’, ‘could I have passed earlier?, ‘could I have passed better?’. It would be easy to find similar situations at work: ‘was I clear in my instructions?’, ‘would it have been better if I’d delivered the report earlier?’, ‘have I played a part in letting standards drop?’

People perform better when they feel confident and motivated. If a teammate performs badly the chances are they know it. The last thing they need is to be criticised, shouted at, moaned about, or in some other way made to feel even worse than they are already feeling. On the pitch, in the heat of the game, and if they are working hard and endeavouring to play their best, then encourage and support them.

You need your teammates to play their best game: what are you doing to help them?

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