Soccer, at its core, is a very simple game: the players on one team try to kick the ball into a goal while the other team tries to stop them. If you’ve ever had the joyful opportunity to watch little kids play soccer, you understand how maddeningly simple yet frustrating that concept can be. When little kids play soccer, they usually just swarm around the ball, all trying to kick it at the same time. Occasionally the ball will pop out of the throng and the kids will all chase it.
Watching professionals play makes soccer seem like a different game altogether. Same number of people, same two goals and one ball, same simple objective: kick the ball into the other team’s goal. But everything else is different. The players spread out across the field, the ball is passed crisply from player to player, and players are always moving—with or without the ball.
The same comparison can be made of teams in organizations, except age is not the defining characteristic, role clarity is.
In corporate teams, just like in soccer, playing your position on the team makes all the difference. Of course, to play your position, you must know your position. In soccer, there are forwards, midfielders, backs, and goalies. Each position has a unique and critical role to play for the team to win. In organizational teams, knowing what role each member is playing is critical for the team to win.
Unfortunately, too many corporate teams operate just like kids’ soccer teams: swarming around without any clear roles. Make sure each team member has a clearly defined role, knows that role, and understands how to execute that role with excellence.
Question to ponder:
- Do all your team members know their roles, or are they swarming?