Monday, July 12, 2010

What Businesses Can Learn About Success from the World Cup

Now that the World Cup has come and gone, I noticed that teams’ success characteristics are similar to company success traits. Here are a few:

– The teams that went far in the World Cup had inspired leaders. Argentina’s Diego Maradona, for instance, has not been coaching for long but his passion, energy and love for the game served as motivational tools for his players. Argentina's players seemed to tap into Maradona's energy and Argentina went far in the tournament. The same is true for leadership in business. A successful company is usually accompanied by an inspired and passionate leader who sets a positive tone for his employees.

Desire to Win & Never Give Up – Many of the World Cup teams were similar in ability. Many times, what made one team win was the “fire from the inside”. The U.S. team had this quality. Landon Donavon and the rest of the team had a "never say never" attitude that helped propel the U.S. to the next round. Businesses must also have a similar unwavering drive to succeed. Many companies recently have re-emerged from bankruptcy with good leadership to fight another day. The desire to win is necessary for long term company success.

Confidence & Enthusiasm – Ghana is a team that had the confidence to go far in the tournament. In many games, they were playing a country with technically better players and better overall records; however, they managed to level the playing fields with a collective belief that they could win. And despite the odds, they managed to advance almost to the quarterfinals. The same is true for small businesses. A business must believe in the idea that it can succeed in order to succeed. When facing any opportunity and/or problem it's the "I CAN" attitude that will help get a business to the next level.

Timing – The best teams knew when to strike and when to pull back and guard their leads. Germany is an example of a team that “went for it” when the timing was right (and scored sizeable leads), and retracted when necessary. Businesses that succeed know when to strike and when to be conservative. It's key for a company to understand good timing in order to maximize opportunities when available, but then guard its assets and retract when times are not so good.

Skill – The teams that went to the final rounds ultimately had some of the most skilled players (and the above characteristics). It is also important for businesses to have and deliver the best products in the most professional manner possible. For professional services businesses, the skills of the professionals should be refined regularly and new skills learned in order to stay competitive. Prior to this year's World Cup, only six countries had ever won this title. This year, a new country ( Spain ) has been entered among those prestigious ranks and added to the record books as a World Cup champion. Similarly, with the proper guidance, passion and expertise, there is always room for a new company to advance to the top.