Winning Lessons from US Women’s Soccer

I will do what’s best for my team, no matter what.

I guess I’ve just always thrived in pressure situations.

Abby Wombach – US Women’s World Cup Team – Pre-World Cup Video

Photo: ussoccer.com

Teamwork.  Leadership. Motivation.  Even though these words are sometimes overused, they are nonetheless critically important to the success of any team or organization.

So, today we have to stop and congratulate Abby Wombach and the rest of the US Women’s World Cup team for their incredible quarterfinal victory over Brazil on Sunday.

Playing 10 versus 11 for most of the match, the US team mounted an amazing comeback to tie the score in the waning seconds, and then win on penalty kicks.  If you know anything about soccer, the crossing pass from Megan Rapinoe leading to the header for goal by Abby Wombach was a fantastic sports play (see for yourself here).  But I’ll leave the soccer analysis for the sports pages.  As a former athlete turned businessman, what really stood out to me was the teamwork, mindset and leadership.

Here are three examples.

Face Challenges Head-On

“That kind of adversity affects us in a positive way. It gave us a little bit more ability to focus on the task at hand.” (Abby Wombach – ESPN telephone interview with Sage Steele)

Create an Atmosphere for Winning & Success

Goalkeeper Hope Solo talked about how the team has matured since the 2007 World Cup (post-match ESPN TV interview with Bob Ley):

“We grew up.  We threw our differences out the window and we became a team and we learned to respect one another on and off the field.  That’s really what it’s all about.  You can have your differences but it’s all about respect.”

Step-Up and Lead in Tough Times

Abby Wombach was credited for exhorting her teammates not to give up late in the match.  Here’s how she reflected to ESPN’s Sage Steele:

“I kept saying to the girls.  It just takes one chance.  Once chance.  I really believed it.  The seconds are basically ticking away and we feel like we still can do it.”

“It was a total team effort.”

Headline For Leaders

Great players have success but the best teams become champions.  So, yes, assemble superior talent, but make sure you have leaders at various levels.  Create a common purpose and instill that understanding up and down the organization.  Provide the day-to-day leadership to mesh it all into a cohesive, focused organization committed to and capable of winning.

Harvey Chimoff is a hands-on marketing leader and business-wide collaborator who builds marketing capabilities in B2B/B2C organizations that drive customer success.

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