The World is watching

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Over the next month 3.5 million fans from Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas will be intensely focused on the action and results of 32 national soccer teams during the World Cup in Brazil. The goal for each team is to raise the tournament trophy and run the victory lap at the end.

With so many skilled players around the world the question to ask while you're watching is, "who is responsible for the team's key to success?" The coach. It is the coach that invests a significant amount of time to evaluate the skills of individuals to field a team with the best players. It is the coach that takes individuals with diverse backgrounds and manages their talents to utilize their skills effectively. It is the coach that cultivates a winning mindset and gets 23 players on the roster to buy in that each has a role and responsibility even though only 11 will be on the field. As soccer coaches unveil their line-up of starters for the World Cup, the world is watching to see how good players are transformed into a great team.

Team Vandenberg is also watching as the 30th Space Wing Commander Col. Keith Balts starts to unveil the wing's new line-up of commanders. Our wing is undergoing a leadership changeover with eight of 14 squadron commanders and two of four group commanders coming off the bench to have their turn at a starting position in the 30th Space Wing. Each will coach their own team and is expected to give 100 percent to lead their people and the mission.

As these new commanders take charge, it's important for them to understand that leadership is a contact sport and requires establishing trust from the start. A way to establish trust and evaluate the members of your team is get out there and make contact with those you lead, build relationships with peers and teammates, and drive the "we" mentality firmly across the organization. When team members know their leader cares about them as individuals and helps secure the resources the team needs to succeed, they will grasp vision and reach for the team goals.

Notice during the World Cup how the coach provides little to no play calling or directs the players on the field during a match. He trusts and is able to confirm the team is responding to the challenge on the field to utilize their knowledge, skills, creativity, and understanding of the leader's intent to score goals, while not letting anyone from the other team score. As leaders it's important for you to provide direction during practice and give feedback so each person becomes competent in their skills and understands the bigger picture to execute their role on the team.

Great teams win with a whole group of talented contributors instead of depending on a single superstar to carry the workload. Soccer requires every player to transition between offense and defense during the entire game without taking a play off because it isn't a developed specialty or because they are tired. Therefore, a good team has to have well-rounded players that can fill various roles. This requires leaders to continue to develop the top 20 percent of your high-performing Airmen and identifying those next top 20 percent-ers that have that winning mindset.

The passion, enthusiasm and pride coaches and commanders put into their players is similar in order to unleash the full potential of the team to achieve victory.