The World Cup is over, and the parties continue for victorious Germany. What sales career lessons can we learn from a global soccer tournament? Plenty, starting with teamwork and ending with … no biting!
1. It’s all about teamwork: Even non-soccer fans can appreciate a swift series of passes and a successful kick past a lunging goalie. Players set up each other to get the best possible shot, then celebrate a victorious moment together. While dancing and hugging aren’t usually recommended office behavior, this element of teamwork can be. George N. Root III writes about this idea of team support for Demand Media. “There are challenges each day in any workplace, and a strong team environment can act as a support mechanism for staff members,” he says. Team members “can help each other improve their performance and work together toward improving their professional development. Team members also come to rely on each other and trust each other. These bonds can be important when the team faces a particularly difficult challenge or if the group is forced to deal with the loss of a team member while still trying to maintain productivity.”
2. Persistence is key: Yogi Berra’s classic “It ain’t over till it’s over” line was never more evident than in the U.S.-Portugal match. A perfect long pass from star Cristiano Ronaldo led to a game-tying goal in the closing seconds. The lesson learned: Stay persistent. Dorothy Tannahill-Moran writes about this for careerrocketeer.com. “It’s easy to get discouraged when you continually strive to achieve something and it doesn’t work out,” she says. “It gets further complicated when you add in the complexities of other personalities that require you to endure. Yet, if you observe those who are achieving what they set out to do and who are passionate about what they are doing, their persistence is there day and night.”
3. Flopping = drama: Geoff Foster of the Wall Street Journal paints the picture of a soccer flopper perfectly: “Seemingly fit men fall to the ground in agony. They scream, wince, pound the grass with their fists and gesture to the sidelines for a stretcher. Some of them clutch a limb as if it was just freed from the jaws of a wood chipper. But after a few moments, just as the priests arrive to administer last rites, they sit up on the gurney, shake it off, rise to their feet and run back on the field to play some more.” This expert level of overreacting and histrionics could be considered a cousin to the office drama queen or king. As Pierre Battah writes for CBC News, “Drama leads to excessive complaining, people avoiding one another, guarded communication and ineffective meetings. The kind of meetings where everybody walks on eggshells and refrains from dealing with the sensitive issues that effective teams need to debate and resolve. Unchecked drama leads to dysfunctional workplaces that are ripe for low morale and high turnover.”
4. Be the dependable employee: A breakout star during the World Cup was U.S. goalie Tim Howard. His astounding 16 saves against Belgium became the stuff of Internet meme gold. Though the team lost, Howard was the ultimate dependable force, which is something every office needs. Establishing yourself as steady, professional and willing to take on new projects or clients will bode well for your future. As Jonathan Lister writes for Demand Media: “Dependability in the workplace leads to consistency. As a consistent member of the workforce, you begin to build your own niche as an essential element of the larger team. In short, your employer can count on your level of performance because you’re dependable and he doesn’t have to worry about you bringing less than your best effort.”
5. Don’t be the problem employee: There are few moments in sports — or anywhere in life — stranger than when one adult bites another. That brings us to the alarming moment in which Luis Suarez of Uruguay gnawed on the shoulder of Italian opponent Giorgio Chiellini. What’s equally shocking is that it was Suarez’s third biting incident. It’s beyond obvious that such behavior isn’t tolerated anywhere. But it does bring to mind the “problem employee.” Repeated poor behavior or anger management issues can put an employee — even a top performer — on a fast track to unemployment. “Naturally, no one wants to work with difficult people,” writes Dr. David G. Javitch for Entrepreneur. “When dealing with problematic employees, productivity decreases, frustrations rise, morale goes down and customers and vendors get upset.”
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