January 30 2014 0Comment

6 Leadership Lessons from the World Cup and US Coach Jürgen Klinsmann

I have World Cup fever! There is nothing I love more than a US sports victory, and Team USA has me hooked.US Coach Jürgen Klinsmann has added me as a personal fan in recent weeks. I’m continually impressed by his enlightened coaching, the way he has breathed new life into the US team, and the ways he has demonstrated that any giant can be slain.


As leaders we must energize our enterprises, and Klinsmann does just that.He’s a model of how we can exponentially magnify our impact by co-creating a vision, attending to peoples’ needs, and encouraging everyone to new heights. Here are six lessons in leadership I have observed.


1 – Hold a proper attitude for learning. It’s been an interesting phenomenon to watch Klinsmann take what he has learned in his decades of German soccer experience, combine it with the American style of play and work to create an entirely new approach to US soccer.The lesson learned is to remain open to, contribute to, and build upon new ideas.Effective leaders constantly seek to learn new things and encounter alternative beliefs, cultures, and values.When leaders stop doing this, their personal development stops too.So, embrace every opportunity you have to learn from others. You’ll also find that maintaining a proper attitude for learning will make you an effective teacher.So, as well as learning from the experiences of others, you may also be in great demand by people who want to learn from you.


2 – Stay focused, and be prepared. Going into the match against Germany, the US came out playing on their heels with a defensive mindset.With time they realized they were on a level playing field, and you could see a visible surge in confidence. Klinsmann refocused his team and showed them they could have success moving down the field.Although the game ended in a loss, the US earned the respect and admiration of German players for a match well played. As leaders we must define and understand what it means to be on purpose and how to remain there.The way to really make things happen and achieve your goals is to clear your mind, pull together the tools you need and fully embrace the situation at hand.Every leader can do little things to ensure that he or she shows up 100% in the moment and that everyone in the organization realizes that they too are expected and encouraged to show up fully engaged.


3 – Use open, honest, and direct communication. Coaches are known for their candid and straightforward communication.Say what you think and feel to the people who you believe will benefit from your message.If a person walks away from a conversation with you and asks, “I wonder what he was trying to tell me?” the whole conversation was a waste of time.As a leader, it’s your job to be a role model for impeccable communication, and others will be influenced to do the same.


4 – Manage all agreements. Klinsmann, with his lifelong commitment to German soccer, embraced his new role as the coach of the US team.These days you won’t find a bigger US fan than Klinsmann. I’m reminded that our cumulative record of adherence to our commitments forms the essence of how others view us.So get clear on your commitments, make fewer of them, and keep the ones that you make. People will notice your behaviors and follow your lead.


5 – Maintain a supportive environment. Klinsmann keeps his team united.He rallies behind his players, loudly defending individuals like Michael Bradley as he’s received criticism for stretching to become a more aggressive player. Klinsmann backs his men’s style of play and shows faith in their abilities.I’m reminded to recognize, encourage, and help people who take risks.If someone wants to try a new way of doing things, give them the chance to try it, and if they succeed, recognize their success.If the new way fails, celebrate the lesson learned and encourage them to keep looking for ways to do things better. Taking actions like these to build a supportive environment will improve your organization’s culture.


6 – Tend to your talent. Leaders inspire, recognize and retain top talent.Employee engagement is at the heart of retaining good people and includes establishing clear goals for the enterprise and communicating them to everybody. Klinsmann not only identified the top soccer talent from the US but also determined how each piece fit together to make a whole. As leaders, we can choose to pay more attention to the human element in our organizations. And when we do, everybody wins.


So, let’s energize our enterprises as we celebrate the success of Team USA and root for them in their ongoing journey!