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Soccer Team

3 Powerful Business Lessons from a Colombian Superstar Turned Coach…

Soccer Team

To everyone else, Hugo Galeano (#4) was a Colombian soccer superstar. To my son and our family, he was a defining and positive influence who exemplifies the lasting impact a great coach can make. Hugo’s actions gave me three timeless lessons that I’ve tried to embody when I am coaching other CEOs and their teams.

In Colombia, Hugo was a superstar athlete and national hero. He had it all – skill, speed, money, fame. He eventually left Columbia after the 1998 World Cup – years after the tragic 1994 World Cup in which one of his teammates was murdered for an own goal. When we met him in 2001, he was living in Charlotte far from the notoriety he enjoyed in Colombia. He was still playing soccer at the USL level with the Charlotte Eagles but he was also coaching a group of 12 year-old boys. One of those boys was my son.

1. A great coach isn’t focused on himself – he’s focused on the team he’s coaching.

Hugo was a Colombian hero and his native language wasn’t English. In spite of his fame and difficulties with English, he clearly communicated to all (kids, parents, and other teams) through his HUMILITY and ACTIONS that this gig wasn’t about him. It was about the kids – individually and collectively as a team.

2.  A great coach sees the potential in others and helps THEM see, believe, and achieve it.

At first glance, many of the kids assigned to his team weren’t the top athletes in the league. My son was a goalie initially largely because he could wear cool gear and not have to run as much as the others. In one of the early games, he was scored on unmercifully. Yet, Hugo saw potential. He helped my son see the potential he had within himself. Under Hugo’s mentoring, I saw my son develop a passion and belief that he could become a great goalie. He blossomed into an intensely focused, accomplished athlete who excelled as a goalie throughout high school and college. He is now an active CrossFitter. Hugo was the coach whose wisdom, humility, and encouragement unlocked my son’s potential and positively impacted him, his team, and our entire family by his example.

3. A great coach facilitates daily discipline and short-term milestones to realize the team’s ultimate goal.

Hugo tapped into the individual and collective goals and dreams of the kids. With those goals and dreams set as the destination, he encouraged THEM to find the drive from within to adhere to the daily discipline of the fundamentals so that when it came time to meet their competition, they were ready. They set long-term goals, worked on short-term tasks, and worked together as a championship team because of it.

Does your team have alignment in your long-term goals? How well are they working together on the short-term priorities necessary to reach your long-term goals?

The Most Powerful Word: TOGETHER

“The Best Team Wins.” It’s a common mantra everyone believes — for good reasons. Whether in business or in sports, the organization with the best team, and not necessarily the best players, wins the most.4431896656_56d2908af7_z

But in business today, what does TEAM really mean? In our roles, how do we really work together? Side by side, virtually, not at all? The answer is … the traditional definition of team and how we work may not be what you think.

In “Managers Can Motivate Employees with One Word,” an article published by the Harvard Business Review, author Heidi Grant Halvorson explored the concepts of teams in the workplace. It’s really the FEELING of working together that has been shown to predict motivation — and the highly coveted employee engagement that brings high performance and results.

Research by Priyanka Carr and Greg Walton of Stanford University has proven that when people FEEL LIKE they are working together on a task, (even when in fact they may not be) they worked 48% longer, solved more problems correctly, and had better recall for what they had seen. They also had more energy after the task. … More fuel left over for other things.

Together It Is

Simply saying the word “TOGETHER” could be the new most powerful word a company leader or team leader can say to create a high-performance work environment. More than team, this one powerful word instantly reminds employees that they are connected, not alone and disconnected.

I’ve put this concept into action. As a coach, I have changed my vocabulary on this. I used to say, “Team, let’s work on the annual goals.” Now I say, “Let’s work on creating our annual goals TOGETHER.”

How can you use this powerful social cue to the brain? Take a moment and envision when and where you can integrate this into your daily habits.

(Image: YassIn Hasan / Flickr)