The whole country has been lifted by the heroics of the Matildas - as have I. After winning by a hair in the World Cup opener against Ireland, the Matildas fell, 3-2, in a shock display against Nigeria. Then came the must-win clash against the Olympic champs Canada.
Despite some rocky moments, the 4-0 victory was sealed after the Matildas adapted their approach. This included shuffling the deck in place of star striker Sam Kerr, out from the kick-off due to injury.
Upon watching the Sydney stadium go wild it made me reflect on the richness of the World Cup and its links to agile. The Women's World Cup is not just a celebration of top-tier football talent; it is also an extraordinary display of agile leadership that propels teams towards victory. Agile leadership principles have proven to be a driving force in the world of sports, empowering athletes, coaches, and support staff to adapt, collaborate, and excel in the face of challenges.
Embracing Change and Continuous Improvement
Agile leadership encourages a growth mindset, where adaptability and flexibility are cherished virtues. In the Women's World Cup, teams that have embraced change and prioritised continuous improvement have outshone their competitors. Back to Matildas’ success over Canada and Hayley Raso scored two crucial goals in place of the absent Kerr. The adapting worked. By encouraging players and coaches to learn from every match, identify areas for development, and iterate their strategies, football teams create a culture of relentless improvement - like agile leaders.
Collaboration and Empowerment
In the high-pressure environment of the Women's World Cup, fostering collaboration and empowerment among team members is crucial. It’s win or bust and the journey to the group stages is long and unpredictable. Similarly, agile leaders empower their teams to make decisions, share ideas, and collaborate to find innovative solutions over time. This collaborative atmosphere not only boosts team morale but also enhances creativity on the field, leading to strategic plays and exceptional teamwork.
Iterative Planning and Adaptability
One of the cornerstones of agile leadership is iterative planning, where strategies are refined and adjusted throughout. In the Women's World Cup, this approach ensures teams can adapt to varying opponents and changing circumstances as they navigate through the group stages and beyond. The young Portuguese outfit have shone in this regard and achieved the second round with several U23-aged players.
Agile leaders encourage their teams to analyse stakeholders and learn from previous “matches,” and adjust their tactics accordingly.
Clear and concise communication is essential in any agile environment, and the Women's World Cup is no exception. A lot happens in 90 minutes (with or without VAR). Agile leaders facilitate open lines of communication between their teams, coaches and support staff. This ensures that everyone is aligned with the team's vision and objectives, enabling them to make quick decisions during matches and respond swiftly to challenges.
Building a Resilient Team Culture
Resilience is a fundamental trait in sports, and agile leadership helps build a resilient team culture. In the face of setbacks, agile leaders rally their teams, instilling confidence and fostering a never-give-up attitude. Back to the Matildas’ second fixture, the loss against Nigeria, and the result whipped up considerable adverse media coverage and added pressure.
The team’s unwavering determination (with some help from the roaring Sydney crowd) inspired the remarkable victory over Canada.
The Women's World Cup showcases the power of agile leadership in achieving greatness. The principles of adaptability, collaboration, continuous improvement, and effective communication are indispensable tools for everyone including coaches and players alike. Agile leaders understand the importance of creating a supportive and empowering environment that brings out the best in their teams. As we get ready to witness the thrilling matches in the finals of the World Cup and awe-inspiring performances, let’s celebrate the impact of agile leadership, both on the football field and in various aspects of our lives.
Twenty2 Collective has provided agile leadership training for hundreds of leaders. Read more about our Agility in Leadership course.