If you watched the Women’s World Cup Final Sunday, you may have been blown away by the over-powering effort the U.S. team displayed in winning. It was evident in the first few minutes – with multiple goals – that the U.S. women would win. At the start of the game, I had memories of the team losing to Japan 4 years ago in the finals and now here we are again – déjà vu – with the same teams competing for the World Cup. This time it was different.
In my role as a student of leadership, I observed three main traits that leaders and the U.S. team lived and breathed throughout the games. They radiated leadership during the finals from the very first second of play. I could feel the energy coming right through the TV screen.
The first leadership trait is focus. The team was totally focused on its primary goal – to win the World Cup. Their total preparation – mind, body and spirit – was focused on that goal. So many of us find ourselves spread too thin. We often work on many tasks without an understanding on how those tasks contribute to our goal. When we focus on the end goal – the ultimate result of all our work, – we are more effective. The patch on the World Cup players’ sleeves said “Live Your Goals”. When we focus on our goal(s), we can hit the bullseye. When we lose sight of what our goals are – we have no focus. The results are scattered. We may hit them or we may not. FOCUS is everything.
Confidence is the second trait that leaders possess. There is no doubt that the U.S. team was confident. Focus clearly contributes to confidence. What else? Here are a few factors contributing to confidence: (1) Know you are prepared – that you have practiced. (2) Have the necessary knowledge. You don’t need to know everything, but you need to know the key ingredients of your job, your sport, your business. (3) Acknowledgement by others of your skills and achievements. Believe them. Your managers rarely lie and if they do, believe them anyway. (4) Believe you deserve to succeed. Own it. (5) Take risks. No risk, no reward is true. (6) Hold your body like you are a winner. Stand tall, shoulders back, arms wide and you will feel like a winner. Feeling is believing. All of the above was true for members of the U.S. team. Why not you?
The third trait is collaboration. The Nike slogan for the Women’s World Cup victory is “ Strong Alone, Champions Together”. Nike copywriters have a way with words. This slogan speaks the truth. We need focus and confidence, but we can’t do it alone. We need to collaborate with others. We need an entourage – an internal entourage (inside your organization) and an external entourage (influencers outside your organization). We need people who think differently, who are willing to speak the truth and will be there for us no matter what happens, when times are tough or when we leave the organization. When we collaborate by contributing to others and them contributing to us – we win BIG. When we listen to others with attention and our ears wide open, our eyes will open too. So will our world. Great leaders do NOT succeed alone. Attempt success alone at your own risk. When we collaborate in trusted relationships, our confidence quotient is high and it enables us to focus on the goals. Then we are all winners like the U.S. Women’s Soccer team!