Five Management Lessons from the World Cup

Joe Weinlick
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As World Cup fever sweeps the world, many managers are taking note of team and event strategies. By paying attention to the mistakes and successes of the world's best soccer teams, you can take away valuable management lessons to apply to your business.

Observe the Competition

In the months leading up to the World Cup, teams prepare extensively. Managers research heavily, taking into account the strategies and weaknesses of competing teams. They note how opposing players perform in tough games and different situations and devise solutions to compete effectively. As a manager, you can use the same strategy by observing the way competing businesses operate in the market. Note how they handle marketing, product launches, advertising and customer communication — and then find a way to do those things differently and better.

Constant Education

Soccer teams that make it to the World Cup never reach a point of stasis. They continue to learn and adjust in order to stay in top shape. As a manager, it can be difficult to get your teams to do the same thing; many professionals reach a point of comfort and stop growing. By emulating the constant learning and development process of the world's top soccer teams, you can build an agile team that adapts easily to changing market conditions. According to LinkedIn, this often means that you must provide regular training opportunities that help employees stay at the top of the field.

Reward Performance

Professional soccer players aren't paid to try their best — they are paid to win. The culture of the World Cup, and of soccer in general, rewards top performers. One of the most important management lessons you can take from successful teams is to incentivize performance. The reward itself must be something that is valuable enough to motivate employees to work their hardest. In many companies, the most effective reward is money.


No matter how many stars a World Cup team has, success comes down to teamwork. If the members of the team cannot work in concert, they have no chance of winning. The same goes for professional teams, which must work together to achieve a common goal. By helping your employees depend on each other and utilize each person's skills effectively, you can create a strong, productive team. You must also follow the lead of all sports managers and find ways to develop each person's unique talents for the benefit of the team.

Manage the Message

Each world-class soccer team is managed by a coaching staff with expert communication skills. The coaches know how to use language that inspires team members, evokes passion and motivates action. As a manager, you must do the same, creating relationships with your employees and finding ways to communicate effectively. By striking the right balance between inspiration, leadership and approachability in your daily communication, you can establish yourself as a powerful leader.

Only the most successful soccer teams make it to the World Cup finals. By learning from the management strategies of the top teams, you can build a powerful business team of your own.

(Image courtesy of pal2iyawit at


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