The greatest footballer of his time or the greatest footballer of all time is a debate many people have about Lionel Messi’s, however there are many things that we can learn on leadership from Lionel Messi. As much as he is a footballer his style of play and his personality teaches us a lot on leadership if we are paying attention during the game of play.
1. Pass the Ball
Perhaps the greatest lesson that we learn from Lionel Messi is passing the ball in leadership. In the game between Barcelona and Celta Vigo, Messi took the penalty by passing it to his team mate to score, of which Suarez took opportunity to score to reach his hat trick mark for the game, it was not about the pass but about the sacrifice. Messi was about to reach a new landmark of 300 goals but instead of selfishly gunning for his record he opted to pass the ball and Suarez got the goal and Messi’s land mark had to wait. Four days later he scored two goals to go past the land mark and one of the person’s that assisted him was Suarez for one of the goals. In leadership, too many times leaders think it’s all about them but leadership is about sacrifice, not serving yourself but by providing service to the teams. Messi’s record for assists is very impressive for a player who breaks records in scoring goals. The true impact of a leader is the number of people you have assisted to progress in their lives.
2. Set excellence as your standard
Leadership matters when excellence is the standard that is used to measure the success of the effort of leadership. As a record holder and breaker it is easy to see that Messi demands excellence of himself and how he relates with the team. Barcelona has achieved so much with Messi included in the team for the past years because they have an excellence creed that demands the very best of them. Hence in excellence, Messi plays his football with absolute skill that is comparable to very few other footballers in the world or the history of football. As a leader you must have a standard that you live by which people will see and that excellence will create records for itself. Messi has 5 FIFA Ballon d’Or awards which is the most by any person in the game of soccer and that is not by incident.
3. Leadership is also a dribble
A leader takes responsibility for making a difference in the game. Messi has in many times dribbled past 3 or 4 opponents in order to create a goal opportunity or to score himself. There are times when a leader is required to make a difference at work, in life, in the family and in a nation. Being able to stand up and create a difference in life is a leader’s mandate. Many people have a claim to leadership but when it comes to dribbling past the obstacles and challenges they stand aside to watch. A leader needs courage in order to succeed past obstacles that will be there. Messi is described as a game changer, and that is what leaders do. Until a leader can be a game changer, their influence on situations is relegated to wish lists. It is one thing to make a speech but it is another to play the game and make the difference and not just a difference.
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4. Get up and continue the game
Without comparing Messi and most players, Messi tends to keep playing and not complain too much. He is fouled in very sinister fouls but he still continues with the game. Leaders are regularly required to demonstrate their resolve by getting up when the situation kicks them down. There are always opponents who will kick you in life, foul you in the worst way , but a leader gets up and continues with the game. Some players will wriggle all over the pitch after a foul or pretend to be in pain but a true leader gets up and gets on with the game. Respect is never earned by lying on the floor it is earned whilst playing the game; hence Messi gets up to play the game. Earn respect in life by being a participant and in time you will earn leadership lessons. How you conduct yourself on the field of play will determine how many people will follow you. The crown does not earn followers by calling on them but by being exemplary on the field of play.
5. Be fit and play
Messi has set records because he plays in the games. You cannot set records until you participate in the opportunity to set records. In order to be able to set records you must be fit, a leader must be fit. Leadership requires different skills which include such qualities as courage, determination and strength but above all you need to stay fit in order to stay on the field. Messi qualifies to play the games that he plays in because he stays fit. A leader must always be in practice because leadership demands effort. Messi has earned the number of records and awards that he has received in his life to date because he keeps fit and keeps playing.
A leader must always stand up and be counted. When you make a stand make sure you are not standing in quick sand, that your skills and your qualities are on point. You must be prepared to dribble when you can because as a leader as they will always be challenges in life that you have to face.
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