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It's All in the Game for Millennials in Business


Thu Jun 16 2016

It's All in the Game for Millennials in Business

Forbes recently reported that in North America soccer is now viewed as the “sport of choice” for Millennials. The article mentions that 65 percent of Major League Soccer’s (MLS’s) audience is in the 18-34 age demographic, with approximately 17.3 million viewers out of a gross viewership of 30 million. When compared with other sports, it’s “clearly the growth segment that most marketers are looking for,” said Gary Stevenson, the president and managing director of MLS. 

What accounts for the increase in interest? We know that Millennials view teamwork as a key work value. We also know they’re accustomed to collaborating online and like to learn through collaboration. As I’ve said in earlier posts, soccer represents the best example of what the interdependent nature of the team experience looks like. The best soccer teams in the world succeed by recognizing a mutual dependency between players, allowing them to practice genuine teamwork.


 Millennials also are very interested in innovation, whether it’s with a current or potential employer. Genuine teamwork leads to innovation. In soccer, moving the ball on the field equates to operating in a dynamic fashion under constantly changing conditions, causing existing plays, or ideas, to be combined in new ways for the purpose of scoring goals, or innovating. This position is supported by the Center for Creative Leadership’s 2014 Future Trends in Leadership Report, which says that “innovation is a result of large numbers of connection points in a network that cause existing ideas to be combined in new ways.”  

What’s more, Millennials may think of soccer players on the field as leaders managing constant change. This viewpoint aligns with the argument made by management guru Gary Hamel in a 2013 interview, in which he explains the need to “‘syndicate the work of leadership’ across the organization.” 

Leveraging Soccer’s Model in the Age of Collaboration 

Soccer’s model can be leveraged in today’s global workplace for improving team effectiveness. Because Millennials typically bring a global, inclusive perspective and prefer flatter operational structures, they are primed to learn, develop, and practice genuine teamwork on the job using soccer’s model. This also includes understanding what it takes to lead teams. 

This spring, I am launching a new training program, The Collaboration Game, for developing Millennials (and others) who work on teams. The program is offered as a one-day, team-based training simulation modeled on the game of soccer. You can learn more about the program at www.winsorjenkins.com.

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