Lesson from the Women's World Cup Champions
This column is about teamwork.
Last Sunday, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) claimed the 2019 World Cup with a 2-0 win over the Netherlands. It was the team’s fourth World Cup championship and their second consecutive trophy.
And it truly was a team effort. This brilliant and incredible squad of athletes demonstrated once again that the name of the team on the front of their jerseys is far more important the name on the back.
In a fiercely competitive process, a team is assembled from hundreds of talented athletes who seek to compete. Eleven of the team were playing in their first World Cup, while midfielder Carli Lloyd was playing in her fourth as competitors at the highest level of their sport, each member of the team brings talent, skill, and experience with them to the team. But that’s not all. They also bring the qualities of character that help forge a championship team from a talented group of players.
Watch this team play for even five minutes and their shared motivation becomes apparent. This team came to win. In their first game of the series, they racked up a score of 13-0 against Thailand—and they not only kept playing hard after the win was well in hand, they encouraged their opponents to do the same. Not even a lopsided win would deter them from giving the game their best and focusing resolutely on their goal.
A winning team trusts each other. They depend on each other and have confidence that their teammates will be there for them. Imagine the result if they were all playing on the same field but didn’t have the glue of trust binding them together as a team. How quickly would strategy fray if one team member wasn’t confident of support from every other team member? Individual talent alone can’t win games. It requires a team that trusts each other.
And did you see how eagerly this team pursued winning? Their combined enthusiasm seemed to be the fuel for their sustained play over the course of each game and the entire series. Nothing slowed them down. Every celebrated moment—and there were dozens of them—was filled with joy, shared pride, and appreciation for what they were accomplishing together.
Soccer is a team sport, and it requires full attention, full time, from everyone. To succeed, the whole team must be engaged, 100%. Without teamwork, the win we celebrated with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team last Sunday might not have happened. But it did happen. And we are proud of them—each one of them. They amazed us and made us cheer. As an organization, they can help us focus our attention on the role of committed and energetic teamwork in the pursuit of achieving our mission and goals.