MANAGEMENT LESSONS FROM SOCCER

By Augustino Mbogella MBA, BCOM, CPA (T)
Acting Chief Internal Auditor
National Microfinance Bank
 
ABSTRACT
This paper looks at some of the management lessons that managers can learn from soccer, which is arguably the most popular sport in the world. The paper shows that soccer managers do use a set of principles to get results from their teams. These principles, the paper argues, could also be applied by business leaders in not only building strong teams but also getting results from them.
 
Introduction
Soccer is arguably the most popular sport in the world. It attracts millions of fans in and out of stadia. In some countries like Brazil soccer is part and parcel of every day life. During the world cup the atmosphere of the world changes to reflect what is happening at this major sports event. When you look deep into the economics of soccer you will realize that soccer is not only a game but a big economic activity. Economists estimate that soccer is an industry worth billions of US dollars. To developing countries such as Tanzania soccer can play a big role in efforts to eradicate poverty. A government that makes adequate investments in this game will have a right to wait for huge exports earnings from this new-non-traditional export.
Besides these interesting facts about soccer, the game can provide learning lessons to business managers.
 
Team work
Soccer is a team work game. A soccer team is made of managers (read leaders) and players who depend on each other to achieve the objectives of the team i.e. to win games. A soccer team comprises strikers, midfielders and defenders all of whom are equally important to the team. A soccer team cannot win games with strikers alone neither can it win with midfielders or defenders alone. Soccer philosophy is telling managers that unless they work as a team they will not be able to achieve their strategic objectives. Soccer also tells managers that no one department in an organization is more important than the other. The wrong perception that certain departments in the organization are more important than others is defeated by the soccer philosophy. Just like a soccer team organizations need strikers, midfielders and defenders. It is important therefore that managers are team players and take necessary steps to cultivate the team work culture in their organizations.
 
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