Like so many people I have followed the World Cup with great interest and passion. Not least because I actually believed France would go on and win it. Unfortunately they were beaten 1-0 by a very astute and determined German team.
This defeat made me think of the broader role of managers and players in our teams.
Let’s start with the French manager Didier Deschamps.
Personally I feel he was not able to react fast enough and allowed the Germans to keep the ball and effectively “kill the game” once they scored the only goal of the match. Tactical substitutions were long coming, despite the obvious talent and natural flair of the team Deschamps did not manage to find the switch within his players. He failed to unlock the necessary urgency and will to win in his team which was so badly needed to beat the Germans. It seemed as if he had only one game plan!
Holland’s Louis van Gaal showed his class and great genius when his team played Costa Rica.

Substituting the goal keeper for the penalty shoot out was just a masterstroke! By doing so he demonstrated his man management skills, strategic capability and overall adaptability. He not only switched Tim Krul’s confidence on but managed to bring doubts in the opponent and effectively destroyed the trust they had in their own ability.

Prior to that he did not hesitate to substitute one of his best player – Robin van Persie for Klaas Jan Huntelaar.

The reason for it was simple: Van Persie was not performing.

The change delivered the results as Jan Huntelaar scored the winner against Mexico. Clearly Van Gaal is a multi dimensional manager and takes no prisoners. His strategy is clear to me, the team is bigger than any players and he is here to win the World Cup.
Scolari’s and Brazil’s defeat on the 8th July was a clear demolition of a disorganised and disillusioned team who played without discipline and rigour against a merciless and very professional German side.

I will not comment further on the match. The score says it all Germany 7 – Brazil 1.

In a nutshell, football managers must be able to pick the right strategy as well as adapt to a plan B, C or D if and when necessary. Their ability to switch their players ON as well as recognise and deal with speed and urgency those that are OFF is equally important and crucial to winning.

Players on the other hand must know how to man mark. The foundation of good defense is man marking.

The key to great defending in football are:
• Keep your eyes on your man and the ball
• Keep the player in front of you
• Don’t let the player turn when they receive the ball with the back towards goal
• Close down fast when the ball is in the air
• Funnel back towards the goal when chasing down a defender
• Stay compact as a defensive unit with your teammates
• Defend as a team – pressure the opponent when you have numbers
• Don’t dive in
• Wait for support before you go to win the ball
Similarly in service the key to great defending are:
• Keep your eyes on the customers
• See, smile and say hello to the customers before they see, smile or say hello to you
• Be aware of your body language and never be on duty without a smile
• Think customer first, look at customers, see what there is to see, act on what you see
• Engage and connect with customers so that a bond and TRUST can be created
• Only give ONE job at a time to any staff at any given time
• Be obsessed with TOTAL CUSTOMER SATISFACTION – only a score of 9 or 10 out of 10 is good enough
• Show and train staff how to you want the job to be done and keep on practising until it is perfect
• When it is perfect, keep on practising so the performance is always perfect
• The details make all the difference. Be obsessed with details.
Socrates ailed the pursuit of virtue as the meaning of life. Virtue is knowing what is good and bad. Knowing this brings knowledge and therefore goodness which in turns bring happiness.
In service there is no grey, either we deliver or we don’t, so we need to know what makes good service and what makes bad service.
This is the only way to ensure 100% customer satisfaction and happiness.
We must know by heart and instinctively what is good and what is bad!
Therefore we must focus on the details and on every members of our team.
So let’s take some inspiration from the World Cup and football and MAN MARK every players in our teams so that everyone understands the vision, values and objectives of the business. This is the only way to defend effectively and allow the free play necessary to score goals and win. Besides…. Christmas is coming fast and we need to be ready for the business surge.
Make Excellence a Habit!