Teams and Vision
As an avid soccer fan, the last few weeks of the World Cup have been heaven for me. The other day in the midst of cheering for one of my teams and screaming at the screen, I made a connection between local government management and the World Cup. That connection centered on the power of the team compared to the power of the individual as well as the importance of a clear vision.
Team versus Individual:
As a fan of the Portuguese team, I have been disappointed with their performance and am sad that they will almost certainly not make it out of the group stage. But when considering the role of team versus the player, I am not that surprised that they are struggling. This is the second World Cup in which they have been centered on one player, Christiano Ronaldo (Current FIFA Player of the Year). Their entire offensive strategy centers on enabling him to make plays. This strategy can be very successful but falls apart when Ronaldo fails to play at his best, such as during their 4-0 loss to Germany in the opening match.
The same is true in local government. A great manager, alone, will not make a local government perform at the highest levels. A manager needs a great team to make the local government truly successful. One take-a-way that I have learned in my four weeks at Catawba County is that spending the time to create a strong and cohesive team is well worth the time.
On Thursday, the U.S. will likely advance out of the group stage and continue their journey of improvement in the soccer world. The key lesson from the U.S. team is what has caused them to become a contender in soccer at the international stage. It’s not having a particularly amazing players, I doubt their players today are necessarily better than their players in the early 2000’s, but rather having a vision of what the U.S. team should and can be. The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) created a strategic plan to get the U.S. to be a real contender to win the World Cup in 2022 by improving our soccer at every level. The U.S., through implementation of those action plans, is starting to see progress towards World Cup victory in 2022.
In local government, it is easy to get caught in the weeds and forget to see the bigger picture. But that ability to see the bigger picture is what separates award-winning local governments from those struggling to make it through every fiscal year. Managers should work with their councils to step back and create a vision for their local government and community. By creating a vision and accompanying strategies, you can achieve a lot more than by just trudging through every day