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Score! World Cup Lessons for Businesses

​​​​​​​​​​​​​16 June 2014

SCORE! World Cup Lessons for Businesses

As the World Cup in kicks off in Brazil, JLL's ​CEO, Colin Dyer, highlights what he's sees as winning strategies, both on the field and in business. 


Football fever will dominate the lives – and work habits – of fans around the world until a new World Cup champion is crowned in Rio de Janeiro on July 13. Every four years, media channels try to quantify business productivity lost to the competition, as people stream games at their desks during the day or wake up groggy from watching late-night matches in time zones far removed from Brazil.

​​"Good business managers live in, anticipate and respond to what is happening in the real world. So if nothing short of a global power outage is likely to take peoples' minds and eyes off the Cup, perhaps we should view the tournament as a month-long management seminar, a series of teaching moments."
  • Organic Growth or M&A? How do you put together a winning team? It's often a combination of organic growth and acquisitions. Home-grown players build depth for a team, while big-name signings and expensive hires can re-vitalize a line-up and pay immediate dividends. The management challenge is to hit the right balance between the two and integrate acquired stars into the team (or company) culture.

  • Training: Failing to practice is practicing to fail. Walk into that new business presentation or penalty-shoot-out under-prepared, and you might not walk away with a win. Teams and companies have responsibilities to equip their players with the skills they need to succeed. Individuals need to put those opportunities to work for themselves, their organizations and their fans or clients.

  • Performance ManagementPoor performers have no place to hide when every move is scrutinized, replayed in ultra-slow motion from multiple angles, and broadcast immediately via social media. It can be hard for a manager to bench a high-priced superstar who doesn't perform in a match situation. But for a team or company to win, it may be a necessary choice.

  • Ethics, Trust and Transparency: Social media and replays also expose and publicize inappropriate or dishonest play. The player who takes a dive may escape a penalty on the field, but his actions won't go unnoticed. Also, in business and in sport, when rules aren't transparent, you can't trust the environment. Soccer field rules are transparent; FIFA is not. Most businesses don't have the benefit of instant replay. But, as the events of recent years have shown all too clearly, companies abandoning the ethical high ground or doing business opaquely can incur huge costs, both economically and, often far worse, in reputation.

  • Local, Regional and Global: Just as many companies strive to operate successfully in local, regional and global markets, so too do football teams: from club leagues, to international matches at the regional level, to global competition at the World Cup and Olympics. Success at all three creates world champions.


  • Globalization and New Markets: Just as globalization takes companies to new markets around the world, football finds emerging markets, too. Africa is on the rise on the world football scene, as it is for multinational companies. One interesting distinction between business and soccer: While the world's two most populous countries, China and India, feature highly in the plans of global companies, neither will take the field in Brazil. (China did qualify in 2002.)

  • Leadership: Teams only win with good leaders. Strong leaders, whether a manager on the sidelines, a leader on the field, or a corporate CEO or line manager, can make the difference between winners and also-rans.

  • Teamwork: Coaches, trainers, nutritionists…It's not just about eleven players on the field. The best teams invest in a range of resources and support structures to make sure they maximise the chance of success. The best companies provide similar levels of support and resources for their top players.

  • Passion: Fans support teams that play with passion. Clients support business partners who work passionately for them. The result? Valuable long-term partnerships. It's far easier, and far more profitable, to retain a satisfied fan or client than it is to create a new relationship.

  • Branding: Soccer stars, like companies, know the value of creating memorable brands. We recently shortened our market name to JLL from Jones Lang LaSalle, and we're very pleased with the result. But candidly, it will take time for our new name to compete with the likes of Ronaldo, Xavi, Chicharito or virtually every Brazilian star from Pele to Neymar. Even Brazil's president during the 2010 World Cup went by a single name: Lula.

  • Luck of the draw: At the end of the day, sometimes a team or company really needs the ball to bounce its way. But by attending to priorities like those summarized above, the best competitors tend to win despite the luck of the draw.

    Enjoy the World Cup! But please multitask: Keep working productively as you cheer your favorite team.

    This article first appeared as a LinkedIn Influencer blog by Colin Dyer, Global CEO of JLL. Click here to view the post