What makes one team of 11 men superior to another team of 11 in the field of play? Many ardent football watchers have always wondered. Is the coach a differentiating factor on the field of play considering he or she is stuck on the sidelines when the game starts? What makes a team like Barcelona or Real Mardrid able to exhibit superior performance from year to year?
Source: Daily News
 Football is a team game where at the beginning of every game, each team seems to be equally matched. Each side has 11 men with a referee in the middle. The referee’s job is to ensure fair play and make sure no team has an unfair edge or even cheats.

Despite the equal platform given to all teams, some teams have consistently over the years excelled, while other teams haven't. This has raised the question of what makes a team perform better than the other.

A good example is the German team that won the last World Cup in Brazil.  To emerge champions, they won all its matches though, none of the players in the German team won the golden ball or golden boot they went home with the most important trophy in the competition-The World Cup.

Also, Germany’s winning coach, Joachim Löw was not the highest paid coach in Brazil in 2014. The honour went to Russian Coach, Fabio Capello; who earns $11,235,210 (763 times more than an average wage in Russia). Fabio's team however exited the World Cup in the group stages despite his huge salary.  What characteristics did Joachim Löw put in his team to turn them into a winning team? Did the players have any special traits that made them stand out?

The word “team” is always associated with the slogan “Together Everyone Achieves More”. This is true if the team does more than having it as a slogan. It is the level of collaboration in a team that makes it successful.
Team Work

Every business or non-business establishment is a team, though with sub-teams. Every team has a leader who is not necessarily the highest ranked officer in the team. Some studies have revealed some of the characteristics that can make any team excel. These characteristics include:

Team Leadership:  A leader in a team is someone who fixes his eyes on the team’s objective or goals. He or she is someone who is driven by the achievement of the team’s goals and steers the team towards those goals. The appointed leader must therefore be a coach who understands the individual team members. The ultimate leader must be emotionally intelligent to lead and maximize the potentials of the team.  

Communication: A team must have seamless communication within the team. There must not be information gap within the team, to reduce friction and confusion. One important aspect of communication within the team is giving credit and reward to the team members.
Team Work

Connection: Team connection is both at the personal and professional levels. A team lead must connect with his team- he or she is better off if he touches the heart before asking for the hands. Touching the heart is often a product of mutual respect and treatment of the team members. Team members must also connect with each other, understand each other’s needs and move in to fill it when a gap is noticed.

Value Contributions: Every team has different parts. For a football team, there is the defence, midfield and attack. For a team to perform optimally, the linkages between all the parts must be smooth.  It is the ability of the team lead and members to see the need to be timely contributors into the next phase of the process that determines the outcome. An attack must move smoothly from defence. Every team member must play his or her role effectively to make the team excel.

Emotional intelligence: The ability of the team members to be aware of their emotions, manage their emotions and use their emotions in the best interest of the team is essential. Most often, lack of emotional intelligence in a team leads to indiscipline and disruption of the cohesion in the team. The level of the team’s emotional intelligence is a key factor in setting priorities and reacting to any changes in the external environment.

By Ola Babs-Olugbemi

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