Leadership, Team

Why Germany won the World Cup, and what it’s got to do with ants

Any followers of football, and probably most people who aren’t, will be aware that Germany won the World Cup recently.  They won for one simple reason; they were the best team in the competition.  They don’t have Messi or Neymar, they don’t even have Wayne Rooney.  But they are the best team.  They pass and run, pass and run and support each other. Constantly, without interruption..

ants play football

Which brings us to Ants.  Jim Rohn writes about the philosophy of Ants.  I think the term Philosophy is a bit strong when applied to an ant, but maybe we should be kind to them – after all they get paid a lot less than German footballers.

But ants are determined creatures.  If we watch a line of ants collecting  food and returning to the nest, for example, they will collectively maintain that line come what may.  No matter what obstacle is put in their path they will find a way over, under or round it.  There may be a period of confusion while the new route is established, then as soon as it is, the line is re-established.  Every ant is completely focused on the same goal.  Thoughts of failure will not deter them.  They behave like one organism.  In short, they are a highly effective team, and who knows – they may even wear German team colours (red, black and yellow)!

But people, of course, are a lot more sophisticated than ants.  We have our own individual ideas, thoughts, opinions and fears.  We have them in our private lives and we bring them to work.  It just might be worth thinking, though, about what we can learn from the humble ant.  What does it take to get a team working so single-mindedly on the same goal?  How do we get people, with all the richness and complexity of human interactions, to act like that because they want to?

This is the art of Leading a team, of managing those interactions, of creating an environment where people feel inspired to do their very best work.  Just imagine what would happen if every team in every business was working like this!  Just imagine how much wealth would be created in our communities, if every business was like this.

As business leaders it’s our job to pay attention to creating that environment.  No-one else will do it.

So we can all learn some lessons from the German football team (even while gnashing our teeth) and from the humble ant.

If you’d like some help with ant philosophy for your business, I’d love to talk to you about it.

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