Written by Vanessa Santilli in QSB Insight on May 14
Maybe you can’t take a corner kick or head a ball but you can dribble through sticky work situations with these soccer insights
Matthias Spitzmuller has been playing soccer (football to the non-North American cognoscenti) since he was six years old. In his native Germany, passion for the beautiful game is usually passed down from father to son, he says. Spitzmuller’s recent soccer accolades include his playing in the Cosmoleague for the German All Stars Singapore, considered the best amateur league in that country. While in Singapore, he also worked part-time as a television commentator and studio analyst, covering the German league and German international team. As an assistant professor of Organizational Behaviour at Queen’s School of Business, Spitzmuller’s research focuses on team leadership and on helping and cooperative work behaviours. In this conversation with QSB Insight, he discusses the lessons that can be learned from soccer’s approach to team dynamics, conflict resolution, and strategy.
Search For Team Synergy
Part of my research looks at how you motivate teams and the factors that drive a team’s success. For me as a soccer player, I’ve always found it fascinating to see how a collection of individuals rarely defeats a team that really plays as a unit. There’s a synergy, that little something extra that teams can capitalize on if everybody is on the same page and running for each other on the field.
For me, what is especially interesting is how powerful that little something extra can be. A key question is: what is it that drives teams to go that extra mile, both on the soccer field and within organizations, with the primary intention of benefiting the team and not the self?
Assign Specialized Roles
In soccer, the players’ roles are clear, from being a central defender to a left or right winger. Without these very specialized roles, the team would cease to function. In fact, we know that the most successful teams are those that assign roles to individuals and that develop the specific skills that players need to play certain positions. Continue reading