As the dust settles on a wonderful football World Cup magnificently hosted by Russia, we have winners and others not quite so successful. Well done France, deserved winners who should feel truly proud of their success. Competitive sport is all about winning. However, this World Cup had more than that for me. Equally important is the manner in which teams win … and lose!
I for one am tired of the prima-donna behaviour of some of the stars who seem to think that they are bigger than the team and the sport. Not surprisingly these highly fancied teams exited the tournament early leaving it to those real teams, tightly connected and with a fierce collective sense of purpose and desire that excelled. Croatia epitomised this for me. The second-smallest country to ever reach a World Cup final, replacing their coach within a year of the finals, dispatching a dissenting player home early in the tournament in the interests of team unity, starting the final with 24 hours less rest and 90 minutes more on the pitch before contributing to a wonderful match against France, losing 4-2 in the highest scoring World Cup final since 1966! Well done coach Zlatco Dalić, captain Luka Modrić and the magnificent Croatian team for demonstrating what a true team looks like.
Japan and England have been exceptional examples of respect and dignity; respecting the host nation, the opposing team and knowing how to lose gracefully. Japan suffered a devastating loss against Belgium in the knock-out round, after leading the game 2-0 with just 25 minutes remaining in the second half. The 3-2 loss meant Japan was out of the competition and headed home. Before they left though, the heartbroken team showed an impressive display of good sportsmanship. On the field, the team respectfully bowed to their opponents. They then filed into the locker room to change. But before they departed, they left the room completely spotless and even left a thank you note in Russian for their hosts. Their fans left their seating area in a similar condition.
The England team were equally dignified when they lost to Croatia in extra time of the semi-final having dominated the first half. Understandably disappointed and dejected after their loss, they picked themselves up off the ground and stood as one applauding their loyal fans who at significant personal expense had come all the way to support them.
Winning will always be important, however the way to win is changing. More and more companies are refocusing from the numbers to people to drive performance. B Corporation certification is becoming widely embraced as companies seek to create a great place to work and unlock the human potential. As demonstrated so well at the World Cup, teamwork and respect are at the centre of this approach. What is your company doing to help people shine and achieve things far greater than ever thought possible?