The All Whites – a team of individual champions or a champion team?

Great team work and leadership - All Whites 2010The All Whites performance at FIFA has been remarkable; a demonstration of great leadership and excellent team work. With the World Cup they have –  rather suddenly, sprouted in our sporting consciousness and totally captured the nation’s imagination. After being an insignificant seventy eight in the world rankings, who would have expected them to do as well as they did? Here’s a team that did not have the support, backing and resources such as the All Blacks and yet they made every Kiwi feel proud by remaining unbeaten and scoring the goals they did – firstly with Slovakia and then against the World Cup holders, Italy! And we could go on here….

It would have been easy for the team to stay behind the following excuses – that they were not from a big country, that soccer isn’t a major in New Zealand, that they are only “part-timers.” But they didn’t. Under the great leadership and guidance of both Coach Ricki Herbert and Captain Ryan Nelsen, the players were instilled with a sense of discipline, hard work and the belief that they could do anything. They demonstrated that they need not be cowered by multi-million dollar superstars on the world stage. And whatever technical limitations they had, if they worked hard, played with all their conviction and gave it all they had, they could achieve greatness. They took full responsibility and pride and did exactly that!

Ricki Herbert as coach exhibited tremendous leadership courage in picking team members such as Winston Reid and Tommy Smith who were literally unknown to the other members of the team before the actual campaign began; yet they all pulled together. Contrast this with the efforts of France with multi-million dollar resources and players at the peak of their game who regularly played in top competitions around the world. This really reinforced the point that a team of individual champions is never as effective as a champion team.

It’s a testament to the excellent leadership of the All Whites and team culture that whatever individual egos might have been present, the players ably demonstrated that they have to work in with others and it’s not all about them. Within this cultural context, players like Simon Elliot and Mark Paston who had up till now, had fairly average careers, and were able to lift their game to unprecedented levels.

If All Whites had listened to the conventional wisdom from the pundits, it would have been hardly worth their while going out on the field. And yet with determination, a clear game plan that encapsulated their strengths and shrewd on-field management all led to the results we have seen. I am left questioning – how many times in business and even in our personal lives, we over analyze things and don’t give it a lash?

The All Whites “can do” attitude – making the best of resources they had, their engaging performance and inspiring leadership at FIFA reflects much of what goes on in NZ business every day. According to CapabilityNZ SME’s make up 97% of enterprise in NZ, accounting for 40% of the economy’s total output with 30% of all employees.

We have many hard working, committed people and champion teams giving their all to make their business a success for their families and the nation. We hear a lot about charismatic leaders. But there are also many quiet and or behind- the- scene leaders going about achieving positive results. We don’t hear about them in the media but are known by their family, employees and local community. They too can draw a lot from the All Whites example and feel proud of their efforts and results they create daily with their teams to make a difference.

As a business psychologist and executive coach, over the last two decades, Jasbindar has helped countless individuals and teams in organizations become even more effective.  Contact Jasbindar to discuss how she can be of best service to you.

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