Does your firm play a team sport?

By 6 February 2023 No Comments

From Aristotle to Lionel Messi, great leaders have proven time and time again that teamwork makes the dream work. According to Aristotle “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. While conceptually this is true, in practice many firms that we speak to have a completely different experience, with teams pulling in different directions, making work and life harder rather than easier. So, let’s look at the success of football teams, whether it be on or off the field, to glean powerful insights into what’s needed to turn teamwork into dreamwork and how this manifests in practice.

Power of shared goal and vision

The golden trophy had returned to Argentina thirty-six years after their second World Cup win. Following a tough road to the finals, having faced intense competition in the knockout rounds, their mutual desire to bring the trophy home kept them focused and united. Despite coming from different teams, the national team put their mutual respect and admiration for one another above personal considerations to lift the trophy as one, once again. The golden trophy thus represents the culmination of a dedicated team effort.

How can you put this lesson into practice in your financial planning firm:

✅ Create a vision and define clear goals.

✅ Engage the stakeholders and share this vision, so that everyone on the team knows why the agreed goals are important to the success of the business.

✅ Ensure that every team member knows how they are going to contribute to achieving the goals and vision.

✅ As a team agree realistic deadlines for the tasks set for each team member, so that each individual knows when they have to deliver their tasks and the impact that any delays will have on the rest of the team and the overall success of the project.

✅ Ensure that the team regularly and openly updates each other on progress to date and any challenges, so that everyone knows how everyone else is doing with their tasks.

✅ Celebrates wins.

Learn from mistakes and view them as stepping stones to success

The road to success is not as linear as it seems. Growth and development require some failure and the overcoming of obstacles. Football is a great analogy for how teamwork provides the foundations for an agile and supportive environment in which failure is reimagined as one of the necessary building blocks to success. How a team reacts in the face of adversity can make or break them. Argentina’s team was able to use their losses over the years to fuel and motivate them to come back stronger. In this sense, the coach plays a vital role in shaping a winning mindset based on the values of accountability, trust, and communication. The faith placed in his team empowers them to show up as their best selves. As a result, leaders have an opportunity to foster environments in which mistakes are not met with animosity, but instead embraced for their potential to strengthen the team’s bond. Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia, the second lowest ranked team, in the first match of their World Cup finals campaign. Despite this inauspicious start the team went on to win the World Cup. Great teams, in sport and in business, can take setbacks in their stride and still come out winners.

How can you put this lesson into practice in your financial planning firm:

✅ Encourage your team to openly share their failures without fear of recrimination.  Foster a business culture of openness and transparency by calling out and actively discouraging ‘playing office politics’.

✅ View a failure of any of the team members as a team failure, so that the team is encouraged to work together to resolve the challenge.

✅ Ensure that each team has a safe process to review failure and recalibrate.

✅ Encouraged your team members to develop a growth mindset, setting stretch goals and looking at failure as a pathway to learning how to achieve goals together.

✅ Enable your team to constantly learn and grow.

Teamwork requires trust

The Argentine coach, Scaloni, has equipped his team with the greatest skill of all: the capacity to trust. The final moments of the Qatar 2022 World Cup final between France and Argentina left us on the edge of our seats. But the Argentine footballers maintained their calm composure until Gonzolo Montiel scored the winning penalty. The trust these players had demonstrated in one another’s abilities, not only within the final match but throughout the many losses and near-victories, had ultimately led them to their global success. Similarly, Lionel Messi, the team captain, famously said it took him 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.” The grit, work ethic and humility demonstrated by Messi encapsulates the characteristics of effective leaders: the capacity to lead change by example.

How can you put this lesson into practice in your financial planning firm:

✅ Firstly, you need to recognise that building trust in team(s) is the foundation of a successful business.

✅ Create opportunities and a safe structured spaces for your team to exchange feedback without fear of recrimination.

✅ Encourage team building activities, getting to know each other, and identifying each others’ strengths and weaknesses in a safe way.

✅ Create a psychologically safe working environment where team members can bring their whole self to work.

✅The business celebrates difference and diversity.

✅ Always lead by example.

The characteristics demonstrated by Scaloni and his team tie in with the five dysfunctions of a team outlined by Patrick Lencioni in his New York Times best-selling book. According to Lencioni, the five dysfunctions are lack of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. In football it’s easy to see the score, but, it’s not as easy to pinpoint the changes to be made if the team is underperforming. Lencioni gives a good place to start both in sport and in business by honestly facing up to these five dysfunctions. Looking at your team can you honestly say you have the five dysfunctions nailed down or is there work to be done. When Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia the team responded positively to the challenge and went on to win the tournament. Is your team winning despite adversity?

Watching football may not be as unproductive as it seems. Next time you turn on the match, keep an eye out for the leadership lessons.

Lencioni reveals the key to success in our team-oriented world in his TED talk linked below 👇 👇 👇.

15 mins TED talk 🎥: The ideal team player by Patrick Lencioni


Recorded Ops Webinars

  • Effective Leadership with Dominika Sieradzka-MacCuirc
  • The grass is greener where you water it: growing & nurturing a top team with Anna Butcher
  • How to nurture & maintain a great team with Dominika Sieradzka-MacCuirc
  • Why a Thinking Environment? with Rebecca Timmins
  • How to engage your team in transforming your business with Dominika Sieradzka-MacCuirc
  • Decision making & how to get your ideas across with Dominika Sieradzka-MacCuirc
  • Designing a training program to match your vision with Adam Owen

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