5 leadership lessons to learn from Lionel Messi

There’s a reason the Barcelona star has been able to lead his club to countless victories and is called the greatest footballer in the world. By Satyaki Sarkar

1. See the big picture
We all have personal goals, sometimes they fall in line with the organisation’s goals, sometimes they don’t. But as a leader you need to be able to balance the two, take a step back and look at the larger picture. Lionel Messi displayed his objective awareness of this incredibly during a game between Barcelona and Celta Vigo. He was one goal away from creating his personal record of 300 goals. Instead of selfishly focusing on his personal achievement, he passed the ball to his teammate Suarez, who used the opportunity to score a hattrick, which led to Barcelona’s victory. A few days later, Suarez repaid the favour by passing the ball to Messi, helping him score two goals and achieving the said record, also leading to Barcelona’s victory. The mark of a true leader isn’t in building one’s legacy by robbing others of their chances or without considering the primary goal of the organisation, but knowing and being able to make the necessary hard decisions when needed.

2. Constant self-improvment
No matter how great one is or how many awards you’ve won, there is always room for improvement, personally and professionally. A good leader keeps challenging himself/herself, without letting success go to his/her head. Messi has already won five FIFA Ballon d’Or awards, which is the most that any player has ever won in soccer, but in spite of that he never gives himself a chance to slack off, continuously gunning to create more records as well as break those of others, such as Pele’s and Gerd Muller’s. Leaders need to have a high standard for themselves and for others, and always strive to exceed those standards, trying to be the best version of a leader.

3. Teamwork is crucial
This one is obvious, but it has to be said. Some managers don’t understand that they too are a part of the team, and that working in tandem with those he/she commands is an important part of the role. After all it’s the team that will help the leader deliver results. Similarly, one of the things Messi is most famous for is his incredible footwork and dribbling skills, which he uses to seamlessly partner up with the likes of Suarez and Neymar, and whiz past defenders from the opposing team before either scoring a goal himself or creating opportunities for his teammates to. Messi has consistently been good at breaking through obstacles and changing the tide of the game, having given as many as 231 assists during his career till now.

4. Never give up
A good leader knows that complaining about a difficult situation does not good; you need to buckle down, focus on staying in the game, and push yourself to find a solution. This is because they know that what matters is the goal at hand, and they need to get the job done however possible. Messi for example has been the victim of countless vicious fouls, some of which, one might argue, were probably intentional. But he always makes sure to always get back up and get in the game without complaining. From torn ligaments and hamstrings to fractures, Messi has been through it all. But just like a true player, he keeps coming back, stronger than ever, earning him the respect and admiration of not only his own teammates but even his opponents.

5. Unflinching loyalty
Loyalty is something expected of all employees, especially of leaders. They’re expected to make decisions that are for the good of the team/company. Messi demonstrated his unquestionable loyalty to the FC Barcelona team and his teammates when he was offered a sum of $40 million by a Russian outfit to leave. Without any consideration, Messi chose to completely ignore the offer, intending fully to stick with the team that brought him to Europe, and gave him the opportunity to become who he is today. 

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