Human Resource Management

Which World Cup Team Best Describes Your Style As A Finance Leader?

As a football – err…soccer fan tuning into ESPN’s coverage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, I’m particularly delighted by two things.

  1. The sheer volume of coverage, which is enough to test any fan’s capacity to ignore social and work obligations.
  2. The diversity of play. Each match delivers two new characters with their own take on the world’s game – the inventive Brazilians, ‘total football’ from the Dutch, the ever-disappointing English, etc.

And so, as I sit at my desk “ALT-tabbing” between PowerPoint and ESPN’s streaming World Cup coverage, while also fending off the occasional, “Is that work related?”, I can’t help but try a few of these footballing zeitgeists on for size. Which team [of millionaire, ridiculously athletic, 20-something footballers] best reflects our finance organization? Are we a finely-tuned machine collaborating effectively [Spain until a week ago]? A bunch of in-fighting starlets [France 2010]? A Cinderella story [Cameroon 1990]?

Can you find a World Cup squad that best describes your finance leadership style? Here are five candidates to choose from.

Team of One (Portugal) – Portugal has some talented players, but there’s really only one that matters [FIFA Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo]. Face it: If Ronaldo took the field with 10 cones as teammates, you’d probably still be a little worried.

Is your finance organization a team of one? Are you, or is someone on your team, the one superstar that your team would simply be lost without?

Note: “Team of One” honorable mention goes to Italy’s Mario Balotelli for his selfie stickerbook album.

Debutants (Bosnia & Herzegovina) – These guys had the unenviable task of facing Argentina in what was their country’s first World Cup appearance. They lost 2-1 and weren’t able to escape group play. Still, they had a respectable showing as a newcomer on the national stage, and even closed out their World Cup play with a win in their final match vs. Iran.

Are you running a young, growing organization encountering new challenges along the way, or are the obstacles in the field of finance ‘old hat’ for you? Are you the type of finance leader who is prepared to navigate through business uncertainties, or are you still fine-tuning your team’s ability to quickly re-plan and re-forecast to solve business problems or capitalize on new opportunities?

Get it Done Early, Get to the Finish Line (USA) – Just 30 seconds into their opening match vs. Ghana, Clint Dempsey put the US up 1-0 with the 5th fastest goal in World Cup history. The Americans managed to hang on to win, securing a vital 3 points. The road to escaping the World Cup’s “Group of Death” didn’t get any smoother for team USA, with a shockingly disappointing tie vs. Portugal and a 1-0 loss to Germany (we’ll get to Germany in a moment). It wasn’t pretty, but with a little help from Portugal the U.S. narrowly escaped the “Group of Death” [Hurray!!!].

Are you the type of finance leader who gets an early start to stay ahead of plans and forecasts, meet deadlines, and do whatever it takes to close the books and produce the reports needed? Are you all about results, even if the means of achieving them are a little ugly?

Save it ‘til the last minute (Greece) – A late effort from the Greeks produced a winning goal in stoppage time over Ivory Coast, seeing them through to the round of 16.

How does your organization handle the dreaded end-of-the-quarter crunch? Do you constantly work down to the last minute, but still produce top results?

The Machine (Germany) – Got to hand it to the Germans. They always seem to show up to play, and this World Cup is no exception. They had no trouble dispatching FIFA #4 ranked Portugal 4-0 in their opening match, coming back to earn a draw vs. Ghana, and then finishing group play with a 1-0 win over the U.S.

Does your finance organization run like a well-oiled machine, with precision and accuracy? Is your team always a step ahead of the competition, rarely leaving outcomes in doubt?

I’m not sure I’ve pegged our organization just yet, but I’m certainly going to keep an eye out as the World Cup elimination rounds play out over the coming weeks. And next time a colleague peaks over my shoulder and inquires, “Is that work related?” my reply will be, “Why yes, of course. I’m seeking to discover our inner nature as a Finance team.”

Or perhaps not. I think Conference Room F is free and has blinds.


Tom Peff is Director of Financial Strategy and Analytics at Adaptive Insights


« IT Skills Crisis South Africa: Jack of all Trades?


Metadata: More Important Than We Ever Thought »
IDG Connect

IDG Connect tackles the tech stories that matter to you

  • Mail