I had an interesting morning watching a somewhat dull semi-final in the world cup soccer this morning with the Netherlands and Argentina both playing “Not to Lose” soccer. At the end of the game after extra time, it went down to a penalty shoot out to settle the game with Argentina locking in an eventual victory.

It is a timely reminder for business leaders everywhere how “Playing it safe” or “Playing not to lose” will most often result in not winning. In order to win as a leader, you need to play an offensive game, “Playing to win”. Now, I am not saying that defence is not also important but what I see often happens in business is that that so much focus is put on “Playing it safe”, opportunities to have significant wins are overlooked or passed up.

So, how can you keep a “Playing to win” strategy alive in your organisation?

1. Keep your offensive team up field where they can do their best work

2. Encourage innovation and out of the box thinking. If you are doing everything the same as your competitors, you will never outgrow your competitors

3. Support risk-taking by your team members (when done in support of the team goals). The faster a team can make decisions and react to the changing environment, the more chance you have of winning.

4. Regularly take your team out of their regular and comfortable environment to help change their thinking.

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