A Lesson from FIFA 2018: Performance not the only Measure of Success

There was a lesson to be learnt from the recent FIFA World Cup 2018. Japan and Senegal had a tie. When Yerry Mina from Colombia did a second-half header to secure a victory of 1-0 over Senegal, they had needed only a point in their final Group H to reach the next round.

But unfortunately they had a worse disciplinary record. 6 yellow cards v/s Japan’s 4 yellow cards. So Japan moved ahead and Senegal was left behind. Emphasising that if there is a tie, good behaviour can take you ahead of your competition. And proving that good performance alone can’t make you a winner.

Isn’t this story often told in corporations?

You have two executives who are equally good, but at promotion time or for a raise, one of them moves ahead making the other equal feel quite devastated. How often have we heard the statement ” I am as good as him but was overlooked for a promotion”. Often the loser feels the unfairness of it all. And that he has been done an injustice. Because corporations, unlike a football championship, often don’t make clear the soft factors for failure to the candidate in question.

In the corporate world what might be the other soft factors that might take you ahead? One of the fundamental requirements for success in the business world is to build long-term profitable relationships. That is not possible unless you follow business etiquette.

Business Etiquette

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” Peter Drucker

The Art of Listening

It is more important to listen than to talk. Social grace means pay attention, not to interrupt and learn to listen.

Be on time

You can actually make a good impression by being on time. In fact, be at a meeting 5 minutes early. Its a lot better than 5 minutes late.

Remember Names

Paying attention during introductions and remembering people’s names is an important business courtesy. Its better to ask someone to repeat their name rather than call them by some other name in a meeting.

Don’t gossip

In an office culture, there is a tendency to gossip. But it can be dangerous because sometimes you may say the wrong things and unfortunately word does get around. What you think is a harmless comment about your boss might be used by your competitor against you.

Watch your language

Language in the office needs to be different from the language you use with your friends in an informal atmosphere. Be careful with your language. Don’t be casual or informal and use slang for example in a business setting. It doesn’t go well with a professional atmosphere.

Understand Culture

Especially if you are in a global job where you deal with different cultures. Understanding a culture is important. It helps you create pathways to build good relationships. I had to work a lot with Japanese teams. One of the reasons why they liked me was I understood their sensitivities and how they worked.

Social graces and good behaviour are important for success. Not just in a football game but in corporate life. It might do well to remember that performance can only get you that far. The rest needs to be covered by business etiquette.

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Prabhakar Mundkur has spent 40 years in advertising and worked in India, Africa and Asia. He is currently Chief Mentor with HGS Interactive a part of HGS in the Hinduja Group. He is on the advisory board of Sol 's Arc (solsarc.org ) an NGO dedicated to special education for intellectually challenged children. He is also a member of Whiteboard ( whiteboardindia.org ) which supports senior management of NGOs in financial management, PR, Communication and HR through pro bono expertise.

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