Leadership inspiration from the Womens World Cup 2015

Those of you who know me well, know I am not a great follower of football (soccer).  However this year is the Womens World Cup.

Initially I started to follow because it was being played in Canada with both Canada and England playing in the tournament.  However, as the tournament has progressed, my familiarity with the teams has improved, excitement of the games increased and now I am hooked.

Performance on the pitch aside (yes I admit last Sunday’s game was tough to watch) the English coach, Mark Sampson, has demonstrated impressive leadership qualities consistently after every game.  His style and approach is equally applicable outside the world of sport in business.

  • His background is not as a player, but a professional coach.  Technically he may not be able to take the best free kick, or save a penalty.  But as a manager he clearly has been able to identify the right people, with the right skills and put them in the right job so they can perform.
  • He has ‘let the past wash under the bridge’ bringing back great players, previously de-selected.  His focus has been building the best team, one that is cohesive and performs.
  • Pre-match; he has steadfastly refused to speculate on performance expectation.  His message has been understated and fully respectful of the competitor team performance.  He has carefully built team spirit by publically stating his belief in the team and the hard work they will put in to try to win.
  • During the match; he has appeared calm and cool.  This has minimised distraction for the team, no need to worry about the manager reaction, just focus on the task at hand.
  • Post match; when asked about performance he always talks about how proud he is of the team.  Pressed on individual performance he acknowledges however also mentions how great the rest of the team were.  There is no star performer, just a team unit optimising performance.

I am obviously not privy to any of the conversations behind closed doors, and I am sure some of these are tough.  From what the public sees, the leadership qualities have been impressive and clearly delivered some excellent results.

Each of these observations are equally applicable in the office for great leadership.  Even if you are not a football fan, this is one to watch and follow for inspiration.

(btw if you are a football fan, the semi-finals are today and tomorrow.  With Canada out I will be supporting England, as will these three people I expect 1 2 3)

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