FIFA world cup fever is on, filled with flying goals, penalty, corner shots and even bites marks. Not to mention it also teaches a lot of leadership lessons that helps connects and inspire your team. The topic of leadership from sports world is common and has been used in many books, articles and studies.

An event like FIFA world cup draws a lot of attention across the globe, as it captures a large scale of audiences from various cultures.

As we all enjoy the matches and the nail biting goals, here are my observations on some of the inspiring leadership lessons that every leader should take away from the sport.


  1. Survival of the Fittest  - Each team is striving hard to be on the top rank in each group, with average running of 7-8 km for each player in every match shows the physical strength and endurance they need to strike and make the golden move for the ball to be in the goal post, the same is required in today’s competitive corporate world, I am sure your organization does not want you to run every day but the proactive approach is required in every role where the follow-up is reduced, leaders shall always be proactive, energized, positive, should be aware of every move in their business.


  1. Agile vs. Aggressive / Short Pass vs. Long Pass – If you follow the game closely, earlier the game was more of “Long Passes” and now every game mostly shows “Short Passes”, both are right and required for the game similarly for leaders in their business. It’s the same way in business. If you attempt to go from 20-yard line to the opponent’s goal line in one go, it almost never succeeds. But adopting a strategy of short, consistent gains will greatly increase the odds of getting there. Leaders should always see the big picture, the business of today and business of tomorrow.

The process I recommend for implementing such a strategy is called “breakthrough modeling.” It involves setting a transformational goal (the destination) for the organization, one that will add value to your customers in ways that put you in a market leadership position. Then create a framework of measured action steps to get there, mapping out every month or quarter by quarter to see what it will take to achieve that goal (the destination) along the way.


As a leader as yourself:

  • What will happen in the next three months to make progress?
  • What operating goals and strategies can we achieve in that timeframe?
  • What capabilities or resources must be in place to get there?


When you win, you don't get carried away. But if you go step by step, with confidence, you can go far”.

Diego Maradona


  1. Showing Fake Pain – Probably the most habitually aspect of the game is the theatrics that players choose to in order to try and influence referees to call a foul in their favor. Yet without waving your hands or flying dramatically through the air, sometimes a referee may miss the call. There is undoubtedly a thin line between being truly fouled and faking it ... but in a game of survival of fittest where goals are the key, you may need to slant the playing field in your favor. Keeping an inflexible approach or keeping upper lip may be the age old advice given to leaders, but in today's business world… ask yourself? Are you doing enough to be human and share your pain to build trust in your company? 

  2. Kick high- Hit in Open Space – In one of the most quoted pieces of sports “You miss 100% of the shots you don't take”. The slightly amended lesson from the game is that the key to having "vision" on the field is knowing how to kick the ball into the right open spaces to create opportunities for your teammates. As a leader, creating a vision often falls to you - but are you doing enough to kick the ball into the right spaces so your people can work hard to follow it?
  3. Half Time – Football is a continuous sport and different from other sports where you have various stops. As a result, it's not that easy to instruct players who are in the center playing for every minute of 45 minutes. So leaders should make their adjustments during halftime and need to use that time wisely. Visualize a similar challenge of choosing specific moments where you needed to provide guidance to your team without pouncing over them every second. Could coaching less frequently inspire your people to solve more challenges on their own?


I am true football fan like many others and my corporate mind forced me to think and connect the leadership aspect to the game!!


* The opinions and/or views expressed on this social media platform(s) regarding the topic is given in my own personal capacity and may not be applicable to all.

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