On July 5, 2015, the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) celebrated winning the country’s third World Cup Championship title in an exhilarating redemption game against Japan. The USWNT consistently exuded synergy and determination in a brilliant performance throughout the tournament, and there are many lessons that can be learned from this talented group of women. Here are five key takeaways from the USWNT that can be applied to your workplace:
1. Flawless teamwork
The USWNT functioned like a well-oiled machine as they seamlessly passed and crossed the ball, defended their end of the turf, and scored 14 beautiful goals throughout the duration of the tournament. The championship title wouldn’t belong to the U.S. if it were not for the constant collaboration and teamwork of the USWNT. For instance, Carli Lloyd couldn’t have scored the fastest hat trick in tournament history without crucial passes from teammates like Megan Rapinoe. Another great display of teamwork came when Abby Wambach, the leader of the team and the face of U.S. women’s soccer, accepted reduced playing time for the good of the team and cheered her hardest from the sidelines in lieu of being on the field.
This is what you should strive to have in your workplace: a diverse team of employees who are committed to a common goal and work together, utilizing various members’ strengths and weaknesses, in order to achieve that goal. As an employee, you must be willing to change roles for the good of your workplace and always do what’s best for your team. Follow the USWNT’s example of rooting for each other and supporting each other, and maybe your team of coworkers will enjoy similar success.
2. Impeccable communication
Communication was key for the USWNT during the tournament, both on and off the field. In order to be successful during games, the players constantly talked to each other and called out plays. Off the field, Coach Jill Ellis offered her advice, praise and constructive criticism to the team as a whole and to individual players.
Just as good communication was necessary for the USWNT to succeed in the World Cup, it is also necessary for workplace environments to thrive. As an employee, be sure to interact with your coworkers and bosses and verbalize your thoughts and concerns. As a boss, try to be as vocal as Coach Ellis by verbally expressing job expectations and providing your employees with regular feedback.
3. Well-planned organization and strategy
No team can function without organization and strategy, and the USWNT found these in Coach Ellis. As the leader of the team, she provided structure for the team and developed different game plans for each team the USWNT faced in the tournament. Coach Ellis knew that the same tactics that worked against the confident German team would not work against the highly technical Japanese team, so she planned and implemented different approaches.
In order to have a successful, smoothly running workplace, employees must be organized and adhere to the same plan of action. As an employer, you should provide this structure to your employees and develop and implement specialized tactics for different objectives.
4. Strong work ethic
No one can deny that the members of the USWNT possess incredible work ethic. Training for the World Cup began months ago, and team members have since participated in countless arduous practices and lengthy training sessions. Throughout the entirety of the training process and tournament, the women continued to push themselves to be their best.
As an employee, try and emulate the hard work and dedication that the USWNT members consistently showed. Fortify your strengths as an employee and improve upon your weaknesses. And, just as the USWNT did, always work hard to get the job done.
5. Properly dealing with defeat
Jason Kilar, founder of Hulu, poetically stated that “adversity strengthens each of us in ways that success cannot.” He continued to say that “the mountain peaks of one’s life may get the headlines and the Facebook posts, but the valleys—believe me—it is your journey through the valleys that will define you.”
The USWNT wholeheartedly understands what it feels like to journey through the valleys. In the 2011 World Cup Final, the team suffered a heartbreaking defeat as Japan trumped the U.S. in a penalty kick shootout. Yet, they didn’t let this crushing loss ruin them as a team; rather, they used the experience as fuel to get better and to prepare themselves for the next tournament. After their painful journey through the valley, the USWNT regrouped, worked hard, and chanted “I believe that we will win”. And four years later, when they found themselves facing Japan once more in the final match, they did win.
Failure is as inevitable in the workplace as it is in the world of sports, but keep in mind that how you deal with defeat is just as important as any successes you enjoy. When faced with challenges and setbacks at work, respond like the USWNT did: as a sturdy team, and with strength and determination.
Sports have the ability to teach many lessons, and throughout the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the USWNT inadvertently provided a great example to follow in the workplace. Through excellent teamwork, communication, organization and strategy, work ethic, and proper handling of defeat, you, too, can enjoy great successes at work. Congratulations to each of the champions on the USWNT!