Waistcoats & Winning!

What can we learn from the 2018 England World Cup team?!

Love it or not, it’s estimated by Fifa that a whopping 46% of the global population watched this year’s World Cup.

Forget whether they won or lost, there has still been lots to learn from the England team over the last few weeks about what makes a winning team.
Despite losing the semi-final this week, the unanimous response to the team’s overall World Cup performance has been positive – at last a team to be proud of.  There has been many UK media columns dedicated to analysing the apparent cultural and performance turnaround of the England team.  Much of it credited to Manager Gareth Southgate, described in the UK press as; emotionally intelligent, humble and even a national treasure, his reputation boosted when he took time to empathise and comfort a Colombian player who missed a penalty against England.  The hero worship has gone far and wide, not only of his team management but also his style in waistcoats, now reportedly sold out in M&S, and no doubt fuelled by “#waistcoatwednesday”!

An article in the Guardian this week talked about the team’s training, having had an emphasis on mental performance along with physical performance, an approach that, according to Gareth Southgate, has created a team “….transformed from previous incarnations.… it now comes across as a hungry, humble team, playing with lightness and joy.’’  Also backed up with one player, Dele Alli, claiming beforehand that he was “excited, not nervous,” about playing in England’s first World Cup semi-final in 28 years.  A great example of re-framing a situation in a positive way.
It seems, and many commentators are making this link, that the England team are more free and unburdened from fear….of failure, of the expectation of others, of the wrath of the manager.

Despite  the semi-final loss, the team has achieved more than any other England team in over a quarter of a century.  The most common words used about the team’s performance the day after the semi-final, along with pride in their achievement, have been:  decent, respectful, humble, no egos, calm, “a polite Englishman” – Southgate – and a “bunch of ordinary modern lads”.
All of this feedback is great and positive, and is a refreshing change on how the UK media have previously judged the English team.  However should there also be some words of caution along with the praise? Amid all of this calmness, there still needs to be a team collective fire in the belly to win, high energy, risk taking and persistence, the ability to really step up when up against it.

Here are our winning tips on what can be learnt from the ‘winning’ England team:

  • Really get to know your team mates, what matters to them, what drives them, what has shaped them in the past, iAM values can help, or encourage team conversations and simple socials.
  • Embrace failure – as an opportunity to learn and develop rather than beating yourself up about what went wrong, dwelling on what is wrong with you, and not moving on.  Failure proves that you, or a member of your team are trying.
  • Don’t take things personally – stay open to new ideas, think about the greater good rather than hanging onto your idea or what you want and not being able to see past it.
  • Be like Southgate, don’t conform to how you think you should be or behave – do it your way. A nation has taken Gareth Southgate to its heart due to his authenticity.
  • Avoid negativity – either in yourself or others, negativity breeds powerlessness.
  • Make friends with fear, re-frame it as an energy and excitement and don’t let it hold you back. 
  • Be prepared to take risks
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