The end of the Second World War heralded in a time in Germany where any signs of patriotism became a no-go. Only since 2006, during “ein Sommermärchen,” a summer’s fairy tale, when Germany hosted the FIFA World Cup football finals, are we, slowly but surely, taking pleasure in waving black, red, and golden flags.
This summer, Europe has again been consumed by football fever as France hosted the 24 European nations competing in the 2016 UEFA European Championship. And again we celebrated our team’s success, in reaching the semi-finals, with a passionate display, country-wide, of our nation’s flag.
The German football team is a celebration of the country’s diversity, with nine out of the 23 players having one or both of their parents born outside Germany, in countries including Tunisia, Senegal, Albania, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast. This is similar to the make-up of the 2014 German team that went on to become the FIFA World Cup champions in Brazil.
While it’s diverse in many ways, what also stands out about this team is its cohesion and team spirit. In the past the German team was feared but not liked, sometimes even called the “German Tank,” whereas today’s team is liked and respected.
A diverse team brings its own challenges for its members and their leaders. Different skills are needed to ensure that each individual feels valued and appreciated for his contribution, rather than separate from the group and like an “outsider.”
When I look at our team, I see a lot of Catalyst research in action and particularly the magic formula, i.e., belongingness + uniqueness = inclusiveness. This ensures that team members feel that they belong in the group, but at the same time feel valued for their unique perspectives and qualities.
The German football team is drawing on the talents of players from many backgrounds, and successfully providing them with a sense of Uniqueness together with a sense of Belongingness.
I’m proud to support this team, playing this so-called “beautiful game,” who show that one goal can unite a group of diverse people, and it’s this that matters, not their differences.