The German Sommermaerchen Changes our Country & International Soccer. Some Lessons for Managers & Politicians

Summer finally arrived in Germany and with it the enthusiasm about the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The Germans had a very hard time dealing with their national identity. The Nazi history neccessarily lead to a high ambivalence towards national pride, not just one’s own, but anyone’s.

Yet, the globalization of the economies changed many German companies and their cultures. Nowadays a much broader group of employees work in nationally and culturally mixed teams and contexts than 15 or 20 years ago. German politicians no longer deny the fact that Germany is a country of immigration; they even slowly understand that we are a country in definite need of it.

With the 2006 world cup in Germany, many took a new approach to national identity; viewing it as much more diverse and allowing for multiple identities. We witnessed many young people living in Germany with other cultural backgrounds, also passports, supporting the German national team.

The success was welcomed, yet many hoped that Germany should do well, but not win.

In 2010, everyone first worried, when Joachim Löw announced that Michael Ballack will not be able to play. Reorganization, change was needed. They adapted to the new situation very well. To most people the success of the German National league is a big surprise.

An exception to this is Amir Kassaei’s world cup blog, one which you should definitely read from beginning to the end.

In 2010, migrants not only support the German team by wearing flags over their shoulders on parades; they even defend the German flag on their shops against some German left activists.

Others, like Baktat, the Mannheim founded international food maker and retailer and Metropol Hayat, Mannheim local Turkish Magazine, support the German national team even with poster prints!

Baktat and Metropol Hayat Support the German Team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa

Very similar to the discussion in international business about the new global requirements with respect to competition, innovation and strategy, we now witness an intense discussion of the changing success factors of today’s globalized soccer game.

Today’s German team is much younger, much more multicultural and plays with a very fresh, new style.

The new German national team has surprised the world. Now, we want the “Sommermärchen”  to go on and win the world cup.

All this “dreaming” and adoration does however have some basis in substantial strategy, know how, potential and performance. Joachim Löw had a clear vision of how he wanted to succeed and what kind of systematic training he needed for these great talents.

Some of Jogi Löw’s success factor are:

  1. Understanding the change of the game by systematically studying recent developments in international soccer
  2. The change of the game is a paradigm change: Today a team of individual stars only will lose: Best performance means best team
  3. Best Teams means using the potentials of the diversity of the team
  4. Linking diversity to vision, strategy and implementation
  5. Systematic training and hard work
  6. And last but not least:

  7. He managed to create an exuberant team spirit
  8. He practices a mindful leadership communication: knowing what to say when and how to say more with less

For managers and politicians alike, this new German national team is a lesson on implementing best practice – on teamwork, on motivation, on diversity and integrating, on talent development, well, on leadership.

They are not simply imitating some former soccer stars like e.g. Brazil or the Netherlands. Rather, they are creating something new, some kind of synthesis of international impulses and influences and retaining some of the strengths of German soccer, something of their own. The result is a team that plays soccer differently.

The most moving scene for me personally, however, was, when Miroslav Klose and Jerôme Boateng hugged.

On South African soil.

Sixteen years after the end of Apartheid.

Congratulations, South Africa!

Congratulations, Jogi Löw & Team!

No matter how the world cup ends, for me, you have won already.

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