World Cup Succession Planning

Published: June 30, 2014

One of the pleasant surprises of the 2014 World Cup is the artistry coming from unexpected teams and unheralded talent. Odds-makers and media experts have been forced to recalibrate their predictions. Savvy veterans are welcoming their youthful successors with appreciative celebration. The professional sports industry seems to embrace the seasonality of teams more effectively than other business sectors. Perhaps we should take a lesson.

Most businesses enjoy seasonal cycles where predictable windows of opportunity are leveraged to strengthen talent and performance. Highly visible off-season changes frequently overshadow the more subtle in-season adaptations orchestrated by strong leaders. The standard business playbook may have called for the recruitment of a particular type of talent to fill some turnover gap so the leader might field his or her best team. However, the standard playbook is often scrapped when an unforeseen mid-season disruption alters the priorities.

Strategic substitution transforms crisis to opportunity. Sometimes a smart risk stretches the capacity of a team and fuels the momentum of discovery. Finding a way to score when traditional means have failed separates those who play on from those who go home to plan their off-season changes.

In the complexity of predicting team performance, four anchors remain constant:

  • Alignment with a common mission/goal.
  • Accountability to collaborate respectfully.
  • Willingness to stretch beyond the comfort zone.
  • Poise and resilience during transitions and capacity to re-engage in new circumstances.

In the World Cup of business, this foundation will support any in-game maneuvers required when the game plan goes awry.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.