The World Cup – how business can learn about motivation from football – Part 1

I will hold my hands up and say that I am not a football fan. I really don’t get the fuss. And the fact that I can’t have a beer whilst I am sat in the ground watching a game means that I am highly unlikely to spend the approx. £90 to go and see a premiership match in the UK.

However it is interesting to watch what is happening in the managerial area of the game, particularly at a national level. It is always going to be hard to motivate a group of people who are (generally) hugely rewarded compared to the rest of the population to put their bodies on the line for their team and country. The recent world cup tournament showed some very different styles and some very different levels of success in motivation.

At the very top of the game – and I am talking top 10 countries in the world – it is likely that fitness levels are likely to be fairly close: certainly within a few percent in any given position. It is also likely that skill levels are broadly similar: ie each footballer puts in a suitable amount of effort in training to hone their skills to the level needed to play internationally. Yes, there are the superstars of the game with exceptional levels of skill, but the majority of the players are good enough to be playing in the tournament.

This means that there are a few areas remaining as variables, pretty much all of which the manager has a big input in to: the team selection, the tactics, the formation to be used and, finally, the motivation he imparts to the players.

Have a think about some of the teams that were at the tournament: who over-achieved? Who under-achieved? Why do you think that was?

In a couple of weeks, I will post another blog with some ideas that I have got.