Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Team leadership: losing builds character

Last weekend was spent on the touchline assisting Coach Mario with my daughter's rep soccer team.
On Saturday we won two games.  Our final game was against a team that had won one and lost one.  Barring a disaster we were guaranteed a spot in the finals.

Well the disaster very nearly occurred.  We were taken to the cleaners 5 - 0 by a team that was not as skillful but were more motivated than us.  We barely kept our spot in the final.  The warm down was muted, from the keeper to the strikers the team knew that individually and collectively they had checked out before the game and so had paid the price.

They had let themselves, their teammates, their coaches, their club and their supporters down on many levels.  Coach Mario knew ranting was neither going to solve anything nor teach anything.  So he left them to their own thoughts.

The team we would be playing in the final?  The one that just beat us 5 nil.

The warm up before the final on Sunday was a subdued affair to say the least.  Before the start of the game Coach Mario got the team together and simple said, "Winning builds confidence.  Loosing builds character.  Put yesterday's game behind you and play our game today."

And, just like any team that is motivated, trained, disciplined and led in a firm but fair way, they did. 

I would like to write that we went on to win; but we didn't. We lost 1 nil. However, it was a loss that I am proud to have been a part of because of what the girls won in terms of individual pride, esprit d'corps, confidence and self-worth.

Coach Mario had the wisdom and experience to know that a rant on Saturday (or Sunday pre-game) was not the way to lead the team.  He demonstrated his belief in them by simply focusing them on their strengths.

For me the lesson is that as a leader you never stop learning now to be a better leader and that sometimes the best way for your team to learn is to let them find their own way out of a mess.

Of course not winning the cup still bites!  Next time.

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