Five Leadership Lessons I Learned from the USA Women’s Soccer Team Captain

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When people would ask me “Did you see that soccer game?” I would always say, “I have never watched a soccer game in my entire life.”

I can say that no longer. I watched the entire final game of USA vs. The Netherlands. USA won 2:0. I watched because I was told about the strength, teamwork and the talent this team displays. Although I have no idea what the rules of the game are or how the heck soccer players can run constantly for 45 minutes at a time and do it twice, I knew I was witnessing a great team play their best. 

I cried when they won. I felt I witnessed an amazing display of individual effort, team playing, and leadership.  

It has been interesting to see the idea transition from the greatest women’s soccer team to the gender-neutral description they are the greatest soccer team ever.  

Megan Rapinoe, the US team captain, must be the most well-known American around the world today.

I have observed her over the years as an amazing sportswoman and have seen her grow and consistently support equal pay for the women’s team.

Here are five areas where I think she shines as a leader: 

  1. She takes advantage of the platform she has to move social issues forward, “I feel a responsibility to do this. I’m privileged…to be who I am and if I remain silent, it’s selfish.”
  2. She is aware of her impact, “(I have an) understanding where my voice goes when I say things. (I) try to use those things for good and try to challenge people and make them think.”
  3. She looks at the bigger picture of what’s next. “Evaluating what we’re doing in the world. Are we doing enough? Are we good enough? Can we be better? I think the answer to those questions is always ‘Yes’.”
  4. She chooses her words carefully and uses both her instinct and heart. When she speaks, “a lot of it comes just from my gut and from my heart.” 
  5. She models what is right. She and 27 of the team players have filed a lawsuit against the Soccer Federation alleging gender discrimination. It alleges female players earn less than their U.S. Men’s National Team peers despite having the same job responsibilities and having had more success on the field.  

No conclusion has been drawn in this case and I know their performance in the World Cup will prove that equal pay should be awarded to each and every one of these players. 

After the game, the crowd shouted “U.S.A!” 

The crowd then began chanting  “Equal Pay! Equal Pay! Equal Pay!”

In support of this team and their efforts and Megan’s amazing leadership, I’m buying a few jerseys for me and a few young girls I know. I am becoming more conscious about supporting our women’s teams by buying game tickets. I'm going to the games. 

Megan Rapinoe said that in order for her to speak her voice from her position, “I keep myself woke.”  

That’s great advice from a leader. 

 

*Image from Time Magazine

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