Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


Perhaps you leaped on the bandwagon late.

Perhaps you were there all along in spirit. Or at least on Twitter.

Perhaps you haven't gone to bed yet, after many rousing hours of celebration and patriotic fervor.

Whatever your current state (mental or physical), the U.S. Women's World Cup team showed us a thing or two about winning leadership.

1. Secure Your Foundation Before Becoming Too Aggressive.

Critics were saying in the group rounds that the U.S. couldn't score goals. The truth was that few teams could score goals against the U.S. The team understood that the World Cup, not unlike business in general, can be a grind rather than a single glamorous event. In the six games before the final, the team had conceded one goal. It played for 540 minutes before conceding. That's like Congress sitting for 10 years before agreeing on anything. Praise might be heaped on goalkeeper Hope Solo, but no goalkeeper looks good in front of a porous defense. Organize the foundation of your business first and more exciting things might follow.

2. Ignore Obvious Injustice and Adversity.

FIFA, otherwise known as the Church of the Blatter Day Saints, decreed that the whole World Cup would be played on artificial fields. This is the equivalent of playing the World Series in a gym. Oh, the U.S. team fought against this venal insult. But when they knew they couldn't win, the players still played soccer as it should be played, rather than hoofing the ball and hoping for a fortuitous bounce. (There are many fortuitous bounces to be had on plastic fields.) The players could have let the turf warp their perspectives, just as so many businesspeople blame unfair business conditions or plain cheating. The U.S. women could have used the turf as an excuse. Instead, they just played. And just won.

3. Let Talent Do its Thing.

A tempting strategy in both business and soccer is to fill your team with workhorses--efficient players who don't possess too much inspiration or imagination but will get the job done. The U.S. had a lovely balance between the trickery of Alex Morgan and the work rate of Megan Rapinoe. Against both Germany and Japan, when many might have thought the team would play even more defensively, the talent on the team was given the confidence to go forward and create. When you're at the critical juncture that might divide success from failure, let your talent do what your talent can do. That's when those with true ability want to shine most.

4. Don't Make Changes When You're Criticized. Make Them When They Feel Right.

Against Germany in the semi-final, U.S. coach Jill Ellis brought on Tobin Heath and pushed Carli Lloyd further forward. Potato-headed critics on couches make terrible coaches. Yet many suggested far more changes when the team seemed shy in front of the goal. At some point as a leader, you have to accept that yours is a lonely task. It can be even more miserable than having your online date not turn up. You can listen to advice. You might even listen to your critics--which doesn't mean agreeing with them. When it comes down to it, you will be judged by your decisions. Make sure those decisions are yours.

5. When You're Winning, Shoot From Midfield.

Few more glorious goals have ever been scored in any World Cup final--men's or women's--than Carli Lloyd's third. Her effort from somewhere near Edmonton was pure judgment, pure talent. To enjoy that level of confidence is rare. To enjoy that level of confidence in the most important game of your life shows that somewhere in that team was a winning mentality and a leader who encouraged bravado, rather than made like an actuary. Once a business leader can see that she's ahead, there's a certain swinging for fences unimagined that can bring not only more success but true, lasting glory. Every businessperson deserves to enjoy the feeling of glory just once.