If I asked you which team would win in a soccer game between two teams ‒ one worth $247 million and the other worth $27 million, which team would you choose as the victor? The odds would seem to be astronomically in favor of the $247-million-dollar team. After all, a team with that many expensive superstars must be the better team! As Leicester City proved this year in the British Premier League, teamwork in the end can lead to greater victory than individual talent.
At the beginning of the year, Leicester was at 5000-1 odds to win the Premier League. To give you some perspective about how much of a longshot Leicester was at winning the title, here are five things that were more likely to happen:
- Barack Obama to play cricket for England: 5000-1
- Elvis Presley being found alive: 5000-1
- Hitting a hole-in-one in golf: 3632-1
- Loch Ness monster existing: 500-1
- Writing a best-selling novel: 220-1
A person would have been more likely to find the Loch Ness monster alive than for Leicester to win the title. How could they defy those odds? They did it by working consistently as a team. Leicester was beating teams that should have pummeled them left and right. One of these teams was Manchester City, whose roster includes superstars like Raheem Sterling (bought for $56 million) and Sergio Aguero (transferred for $40 million). In contrast, on Leicester’s side, their main striker, Jamie Vardy, had been bought for $1 million and Riyad Mahrez, another of their big stars, had been bought for $400,000. The value of those two teams is not even comparable.
Yet, Manchester City lost 3-1 at home against Leicester. When you compare the value of the players at the beginning of the season, a majority of teams looked considerably better than Leicester. But because they didn’t just play for themselves and they consistently played together, they won one of the greatest titles in sporting history.
Leicester won continually throughout their season because each player committed to working as a team and putting in equal effort. For example, even though their main striker was unable to play a key game against another team, the remaining members of Leicester were able to pull together as a team and come out with a 4-0 win. They didn’t only depend on talented, individual members to win games but the entire team worked together as one unit to achieve success.
In an organization, each person should commit to carrying his own weight instead of depending more heavily on any individual team member.
Here are three real-life applications that your ministry or organizational team can learn from Leicester’s example on the field:
- Set smaller, achievable goals but don’t rule out the impossible. Leicester’s coach, Claudio Ranieri, continually said during the season that their goal at the time was not to win the league but avoid being in the bottom three and being relegated to a lower league. This allowed the team to make small steps toward staying at the top of the pack while not being buried by the pressure of having to be the best all of the time. Don’t expect the impossible out of your team but don’t rule out the goals that seem impossible. Give your team small goals to strive toward and encourage them to achieve those goals with high quality and to the best of their ability.
- Consistently work toward your team’s strengths and don’t dwell on their weaknesses. During their games, Leicester played to their strengths. Their main strategy included taking their time, playing good defense, and conducting a quick counter-attack as the opportunity arose. They used this tactic in every game and this method became a major strength for the team. They didn’t put as much emphasis on possession of the ball which is what most teams tend to do. Instead, they focused all of their energy on quickly and masterfully passing the ball forward and shooting goals in short windows of time. Focus your team on what you believe are your shared strengths and don’t waste energy worrying about what seems to work well for other teams. Don’t dwell on your weaknesses – be consistent in your strengths.
- Believe in your team. Coach Ranieri continued to depend on and believe in each team member in the starting line-up even if some of them made mistakes. He had the least amount of changes in the starting line-up in the entire league. Because of this, each player knew his position well and was comfortable with the other players’ positions. Don’t punish or dismiss a team member immediately because of a mistake. Everyone will make mistakes but long-term success can be tied in with learning from those errors and becoming better people and closer team members.
Whether you are a part of a sports team or a ministry team, remember that setting small, achievable goals, working consistently toward your strengths, and believing in your team members can bring amazing results. You can beat the odds!