Messi showed his focus and intent right from the start of the World Cup. Despite defeat from minnows like Saudi Arabia, Argentina never lost momentum in other matches. And the credit goes to Messi, who led the team from the front when the chips were down.
The highly anticipated World Cup final between Argentina and defending champions France did not disappoint, delivering a thrilling match that will go down in history as one of the greatest of all time. The match ended in a 3-3 draw, with Argentina ultimately triumphing 4-2 in a nail-biting penalty shootout.
Playing his last World Cup, megastar Messi, the biggest soccer player Argentina has produced after the late Diego Maradona recreated the frenzy when the team won the soccer’s biggest extravaganza in 1986 and lived up to the expectations.
Often ridiculed by the media as the king without the crown for his failure to help his team win the title, Messi reinvented himself in the World Cup arena this time.
Lionel Messi’s scintillating display and anchor role helped his team create history, and also demonstrates an array of valuable lessons in leadership skills.
His team also offered some lessons in discipline, dedication and integrity. Like a true leader, Messi delivered the goods by being humble, unfazed by initial failure, and above all, knowing the true value of a team game.
Throughout the tournament, Messi scored seven goals and assisted the team on three others. Most importantly, it was when the stakes were highest that he performed his best.
The soccer star scored one goal and assisted a brilliant goal that changed the complexion of the game against Croatia in the semi-finals. Then in the championship game, the icon scored two goals and had the opening goal in the shootout.
Here’re some leadership lessons that can be learnt from Messi.
1. When the pressure is on, great leaders deliver big
The lesson leaders can take from Messi is the ability to execute under pressure. Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games.
Messi showed his focus and intent right from the start of the World Cup. Despite defeat from minnows like Saudi Arabia, Argentina never lost momentum in other matches. And the credit goes to Messi, who led the team from the front when the chips were down. Performing at the elite level in high-pressure situations is never easy especially when you’re under scrutiny for your every move. Messi displayed perfect leadership skills and raised the bar.
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2. Self-pride and brand loyalty is vital
Messi’s attitude and the way he has handled his fame, pressure, and expectations have an everlasting story to tell.
Shouldering the expectations of 499 million global followers on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and Twitter is not easy. Victory brings wild celebration but one defeat can make a star into a villain overnight. He knew the pressure and handled it with elan.
His stature is awe-inspiring. Soon after the win, soccer legend Pele congratulated the Argentina captain for winning his first World Cup. The former Brazilian star, who was hospitalised for health issues earlier this month, heaped praise on Messi.
“Today football continues to tell its story, as always, in an enthralling way. Messi winning his first World Cup, as his trajectory deserved,” Pele wrote on his Instagram handle.
3. Execution is key, never mind the consequences
When performing at a high level, you must trust your preparation and execution and leave the results to yourself. Argentina marshalled by Messi executed everything with precision. Countering the likes of Kylian Mbappe, who scored four goals in the finals, was not easy. Led by mercurial Messi, the Latin American team rose to the occasion with a close and deadly marking style leaving little way to move the opposition strikers.
4. The power of focus – the key to success
A leader who might have earned glory in the past cannot rest on past laurels. Every day is a new game and he has to perform in the present moment. All the hype and media projection should not distract a leader. Messi scored a few points: he never looked out of focus. No setback or defeat could shift his focus. Playing his last World Cup, he looked determined to help his team win the World Cup.
5. Leading a team demands sacrifice
"You have to fight to reach your dream. You have to sacrifice and work hard for it," Messi earlier said.
Irrespective of the type of dream, no individual or team can taste glory without hard work and sweat. Everyone has dreams and aspirations. Many dream to scale the success ladder in their careers. Whatever the dream may be, hard labour is a means to achieve it. Nothing comes easy and wishful daydreaming leads one to nowhere. Messi and his Argentina team typify the execution of the eternal success formula. Those who consistently make efforts, reap the right benefits.
6. No shortcut to success: Hard work, dedication pay off
In one of his interactions with the media, Messi said, "I start early and I stay late, day after day, year after year. It took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success."
In reality, there is no quick route to success. You need to work hard, day after day, month after month, and year after year to succeed. Leaders and workers must push themselves past their limits, and get out of their comfort zone. Never mind obstacles and failures. Giving up cannot be the way, rather one should keep striving for the desired goal.