I recently attended a Carolina Dynamo soccer match. I am not a big fan of soccer. I don’t get it. Maybe I’m a snob (wouldn’t be the first time that was told to me). Here are some things I learned:

1) What we Americans call soccer, the rest of the world calls football.

2) The score is not zero, it is nil.

3) The “offsides” rule is difficult to understand, but not as difficult as icing in hockey.

4) They don’t play on a field, they play on a pitch.

And, I saw a pretty cool connection with leadership.

As the players were on the pitch, I saw in action, what we at CCL call DAC: Direction, Alignment, Commitment right before my eyes.

  • Direction – They all knew what the objective was: score a goal, and don’t let anyone from the other team score. That would be success.
  • Alignment – Each player knew his position and responsibility, from the goalie to the defender, to the midfielder to the forward. Each player knew what his role was, and how that in fact contributed to success.
  • Commitment – Each player was giving 100% on the field…I mean pitch…and was dedicated to doing his part for the team to attain success.

(image source: http://thinkeringstudio.wikis.birmingham.k12.mi.us/Soccer+skills+and+techniques)

When effective leadership happens, you see DAC. A great metaphor for DAC played out on the pitch (yes, got it right that time, pitch).

Where have you seen DAC? Would you mind sharing your thoughts?

4 thoughts on “Leadership Lessons from the Pitch

  1. Tim Hill says:

    Thanks Bill

    Enjoy your articles and blogs for their clarity.

    Yes – sports teams are a great example of DAC, and also that it is possible to be aligned but not committed. It is not unknown for players to sulk or give up (!), but remain in position, most obviously remaining onside. I seriously doubt the commitment of many England players to the team in international tournaments for example! This is borne out by reading interviews and auto-biographies with former players.

    (BTW, the word ‘soccer’ is used in a lot of countries outside the US (e.g. Australia and New Zealand) and was a synonym for football in the UK from the late 19th century until the 1980s, after which it steadily came to be seen as an American word. It is short for ‘association’ as in Association Football! )

  2. Tim Hill says:

    Thanks Bill

    Enjoy your articles and blogs for their clarity.

    Yes – sports teams are a great example of DAC, and also that it is possible to be aligned but not committed. It is not unknown for players to sulk or give up (!), but remain in position, most obviously remaining onside. I seriously doubt the commitment of many England players to the team in international tournaments for example! This is borne out by reading interviews and auto-biographies with former players.

    (BTW, the word ‘soccer’ is used in a lot of countries outside the US (e.g. Australia and New Zealand) and was a synonym for football in the UK from the late 19th century until the 1980s, after which it steadily came to be seen as an American word. It is short for ‘association’ as in Association Football! )

  3. Thanks Tim for your thoughts. I think there are many times leaders have to deal with people who are aligned, but not committed. That is why leadership is so tough – they have to understand how to get each individual committed and motivated in that person’s unique way, which may be totally different than other people the leader has to lead. And also, thanks for the note about the origins of the word soccer – we learn something everyday!

  4. Thanks Tim for your thoughts. I think there are many times leaders have to deal with people who are aligned, but not committed. That is why leadership is so tough – they have to understand how to get each individual committed and motivated in that person’s unique way, which may be totally different than other people the leader has to lead. And also, thanks for the note about the origins of the word soccer – we learn something everyday!

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