THE World Cup 2014 has ended, and the victorious German players are being feted as heroes at home Other teams will be doing some soul-searching.

But it is not just in the footballing world where many lessons have been learned — the “beautiful game” offers some insights on leadership as well: 


Focus on the team

One of the reasons why Germany won the World Cup is because for every player who was injured or not playing well, there was another who could step into his shoes.

Other teams often relied on a single star player to raise the performance of the whole team.

For example, Brazil relied so heavily on its star player Neymar that after he was injured in the quarter-final match against Colombia and ruled out for the rest of the tournament, the team fell apart and was humiliated 1-7 by Germany in the semi-finals. The hosts also lost to the Netherlands in the third-place encounter.

Germany had its star players, but it was never about the individuals, it was about the team. If their World Cup record goal scorer Miroslav Klose did not find the net, the likes of Thomas Muller or Mario Goetze did.

As Germany’s captain Philipp Lahm said: “Whether we have the best individual players or whatever does not matter. You have to have the best team.”

It is the same with corporations. Teams that work well together to achieve the organisation’s vision and its goals are ultimately responsible for its success.


Build the team

The German and Argentinian coaches, Joachim Löw and Alejandro Sabella respectively, are rather unassuming and in many people’s opinions, not very charismatic.

This low-key approach may have worked in their favour. When you are a popular or a controversial personality, you tend to spend an enormous time dealing with the press, giving interviews or soundbites.

However, Löw and Sabella were not distracted by media attention and channelled all their attention to building up their teams.


Take your chances

The match between the Netherlands and Costa Rica was evenly matched and stretched to extra time because both sides could not score a goal. Eventually, it had to be decided by a penalty shoot out.

The Netherlands’ coach Louis van Gaal did something unusual. He brought in substitute goal-keeper Tim Krul for the penalty shootout, and Krul became a hero when he saved two penalty kicks to take his country to the semi-finals.

The talking point after the match was not the Netherlands’ hard-fought victory, but about the coach’s tactical substitution.

When interviewed, Van Gaal revealed that Krul’s substitution was planned all along, as he knew Krul had a “bigger reach” and was also known as a “penalty killer”. Van Gaal understood the strengths of each goalkeeper on his team, and knew when to play his trump card when the opportunity arose.


Inspire your people

German coach Löw told 22-year-old Mario Goetze, “Go out there and show the world you are better than Messi”, minutes before he scored the goal that won Germany the World Cup.

There is no way that Goetze could currently come close to the Argentinian superstar Messi at the club level but Löw believed in him and the youngster scored one of the best goals of the tournament.

Leaders believe in the abilities of their team members and inspire them to be the best they can be. It is this confidence that motivates team members to go all out to succeed.

In conclusion, your people are really valuable when they play well in a team and not as individuals. Those who want to move fast, move alone.

If you want your organisation to go far, your people have to move together.

Article by Kenneth Kwan, a high-performance strategist. For more information, visit