Leadership May Determine Outcome of Germany vs. Spain

If you’ve been following the World Cup so far, you know that the Germany vs. Spain match tomorrow is a big deal. The New York Times’ Rob Hughes has an interesting take on how Spain, possibly the most talented team out there, may be hamstrung by a lack of leadership:

No team in the world has more skill right through its starting 11 than the Spaniards. None has a better recent record than Spain, which has lost only twice in its last 52 matches. And no one who saw the Spanish bewitch the Germans to win the Euro 2008 final in Vienna could doubt Spain’s class.

But Germany has looked stronger, consistently, in this Cup. So what has changed as the two head into their semifinal in Cape Town on Wednesday? Three things lie in Germany’s favor: Die Mannschaft has found newer, fresher, fitter players. Germany is always motivated when it comes to the World Cup. And after losing its captain, Michael Ballack, to injury, it has a dynamic new leader on the field.

…if there is a better leader in the field than Schweinsteiger, he is yet to be seen. He has transformed himself from an enforcer to a man at the center of the action who, through example, energy and skill, makes others give that little bit extra.

“Bastian is a true leader who does a lot of talking,” says (German player Sami) Khedira. “He has a very positive influence on the players around him and is willing to take on the responsibility in critical situations. He always wants to have the ball, even during difficult phases. We complement each other very well on the pitch.” Khedira’s definition of leadership belies his youth. He is 23 and has just 11 full caps to his name. He speaks, Schweinsteiger acts and Germany plays a positive, determined way.

The article goes on to mention that the Spanish players lack conviction, perhaps because its captain and goalie, Iker Cassillas, cannot “lead the play or give it rhythm.”

This same lesson holds true for any business team. In business, you can collect the most talented players available, but without leadership, your company or team won’t make it.

If Spain falters tomorrow, and leadership is the issue, the team will have learned a very poignant lesson.

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