By: Tony Amato
University of Arizona
Head Women’s Soccer Coach
fan I have been in college coaching for 15 years and have learned many lessons along the way. On my recent trip to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup, I was reminded of one of those lessons that has evolved and become a key component of my coaching philosophy. What leadership lesson could possibly be reinforced in Rio’s crowded streets, packed restaurants, and passion filled stadiums? If you want elite performance, you first must provide a winning environment, a positive experience, and make it enjoyable for everyone connected to it.

Many apprehensions surrounded the preparations leading up to the past two World Cups in South Africa and Brazil. How dangerous is it going to be? Will the stadiums be finished? Is there adequate infrastructure? Yet, with all of these concerns, people by the hundreds of thousands travel the globe to get to the event. They endure crazy travel, spend lots of money, and even sleep in the back of cars (especially the Argentines) to reach the tournament. As I stood at the FanFest on Copacabana beach soaking in the England vs Italy match as my first 2014 World Cup moment, I thought for a brief second that it is crazy how so many people make the journey to get this experience. And that is when the lesson I learned early in my coaching career hit me in the face. The vibe of the World Cup is unexplainable. This event tells a great story: The passion! The pageantry! The cultural spirit! The excitement! It is simply elite. As a result, I will never be able to sit at home during a future World Cup knowing just how great it is to be at one.

So, if you are a coach, the leader of a group, run your own business, or in charge of your department at work, think about the World Cup experience. The reasons people are motivated to go above and beyond to experience it is directly linked to the fact that it is a special event. If you want those you’re leading to go the extra mile, put these three things at the root of your culture:

1. Create an elite environment

2. Make it an elite experience

3. Make it fun

When your team or work environment is built on these components, you will get elite performance from its members and a successful end product.

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