Friday, July 10, 2015

Take a Lesson from USA Women’s Soccer—Don’t Write Off “Problem” Employees

Even if you don’t know a yellow card from a yellow cab, you had to be impressed by the USA Women’s World Cup soccer championship victory on Sunday in Vancouver. Led by midfielder, Carli Lloyd, the USA Women trounced Japan 5-2 to reach the pinnacle of the world’s most popular game for the first time since 1999.

Today, the team will be the first women’s sports team of any kind to be honored with a ticker tape parade through the Canyon of Heroes in New York City.

Lloyd, who was cut from the US national team a few years ago, completed a remarkable physical and attitude turnaround with three breathtaking goals in the World Cup Championship game. Lloyd thanked her trainer James Galanis, the soccer guru who took a young girl just cut from the US Under-21 team — who actually considering quitting the sport — and helped teach her how to be a professional.

“All this from a woman who looked lost and out of sorts all through the [early round games], turning the ball over and uncomfortably shoehorned into a holding midfield role. She had one assist, no goals and no impact,” opined NY Post sportswriter Brian Lewis.
That is, until coach Jill Ellis took Lloyd aside and told her she was going to put another player into her regular midfield spot and push Lloyd up the field and let her lead the attack. Coach Ellis had faith in Lloyd to be the engine of the U.S. offense.
What a difference when the person you report to has faith in you in tough spots. Before this Women’s World Cup started, ex-US coach Pia Sundhage (now coaching Sweden’s national team) told the New York Times, “Carli Lloyd was a challenge to coach, by the way. When she felt that we had faith in her, she could be one of the best players. But if she began to question that faith, she could be one of the worst. It was so delicate, so, so delicate.’’

In addition to Lloyd’s heroics, the USA women did NOT resort to showboating or trash-talking after jumped out to a stunning 4-0 lead in the first 16 minutes of the game—the soccer equivalent of scoring four touchdowns in the first quarter of the NFL Super Bowl. They held their composure as Japan—like Germany and Sweden in earlier games—become frustrated and grabbed, slide-tackled and otherwise got more physical to try to slow down the potent USA offense.

Kudos also to 35 year-old Abby Wambach, longtime team captain and aging veteran, gracefully accepting a substitute role after leading the team for over 10 years or rebuilding and tinkering.
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In sports, as in business and client relationships, chemistry and camaraderie can be more important than technical competency, when it comes to determining the right fit for the team you want to build.
TAGS: USA Women’s Soccer, Carli Lloyd, problem employees, out of the box, ticker tape parade

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