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What position do you play?

I’m a footballer. I love the game, which conveniently provides me with friends, challenges, exercise and therapy all at once, both on and off the pitch. A while ago, talk on the pitch turned to an old teammate, who always gave the defenders hell if her team lost. There was little room for improvement in her own performance, however. As you have probably guessed, she didn’t play defence. As I thought about her, I noticed how different people play different positions in games. One might keep their head down and work hard, while another might be a flamboyant goal-scorer. The game is just a game, but the person is the same – and the same applies at work. Workplaces are like football pitches and the employees are the players. Management are the coaches, who are supposed to get the best possible performance out of their players.

There is only one aim: to win the game. The winner is the team that plays the most skilfully together, plays the best defence, and gets the ball in the back of the net more often than their opponent. Preparing for a game is important and this requires strategy and a coach.

But what about the players? The goalie, a reliable guy that you can pass behind to and know that he’s always got your back. Centre-backs. Have you ever seen a centre-back who walks around patting themselves on the back and bragging about their performance? No, because they aren’t like that. Centre-backs are key defenders who graft for the good of the team but rarely receive special thanks for their work. Wingers run back and forth on the edges of the pitch and build the game. They are quick and skilled, but prefer to remain near the touchlines. The central mid-field is the team’s engine, responsible for keeping the machine going. Midfielders share the opportunity for success with others. What about the forwards? The striker has a special gift for finishing off a goal. It is a true gift that only few players possess. To be in the right place at the right time. The striker’s finishing touches are what wins the game, and for that reason they often receive the most praise, even though they don’t always need to do anything other than put their foot in a slightly different position.

A team requires all of its players to win, and it is in the best interest of the team for everyone to improve their skills on the pitch. The same goes for work – everyone has their own task which, when completed, brings the company closer to its vision. Familiarization and quiet knowledge-sharing make the most skilled employees.

According to an old proverb, a team is only as strong as its weakest player. One excellent example of a strong team is Finland’s successful world championship men’s ice hockey team. The guys on the team, who looked rather unassuming on paper, showed what can be achieved when a team’s players put their heads down and work together towards a clear goal. A good workplace, too, is one where employees support one another and share knowledge and skills with colleagues.

What position do you play, and do you recognise anyone on the pitch?

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