leadership lesson from kids playing soccer

Photo copyright pixeljones via Flickr.


Watching six-year-olds play soccer (or football for our friends outside the USA) is more than just entertaining – it’s informative. They’re enthusiasm for the game, and contributing to success, reveals itself in an interesting (and humorous) way: They all group and crowd around the ball, kicking endlessly and randomly, hoping that someone will – by chance – make a connection and send the ball towards the goal.


They’re committed to winning.


A senior leader at a well-known engineering company shared the above soccer example as a metaphor. “The same thing – bunching around the ball – can happen in the workplace,” he said. “But you can’t have it. We’re only one-person deep at each position. Everybody has to play their role and stay in their space if we’re going to be effective.”


What’s necessary to ensure a person’s commitment to success doesn’t hurt results – but advances the ball? (You won’t see the soccer teams in the Olympics this summer bunching around the ball.)


“Being a committed employee doesn’t mean you are willing to work 80 hours a week,” the leader added. “It means you are willing and able to continuously improve how you fulfill your role, your effectiveness and contributing to team success.”


If we aren’t aligned on what commitment means, it means we can work hard, but actually go slow. And slow is poison.


Your team is working hard. What does commitment mean? How this value is defined may determine how quickly the ball goes in the goal.




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