Leandro Benda

Author: Leandro Benda, PMP

“Failure is often part of the journey and learning process, and without disappointments it is impossible to achieve success”

You may be wondering what an article about football has to do with a PMI newsletter? There are perhaps more analogies with project management than one might think as recent history shows.

In football, success is defined as a win. Teams win consistently when the coach is a good leader. In project management, success is defined as full scope, delivered on time, and on budget. Projects succeed when the project manager is a good leader.

Knowledge of basic football techniques and the “Laws of the Game” is essential for the football coach but does not ensure success. Similarly, knowledge of basic project management techniques and the “PMBoK” is essential for the project manager but does not ensure project success. The distinguishing characteristic of both the successful coach and the successful project manager is the ability to lead.

Many analogies can be drawn, and many leadership lessons can be learned from studying the dynamics of a football team. Understanding these lessons and their applicability on a project team can help ensure success for the project manager.


In sports, it is clearly understood that the coach is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the team. The coach has (or should have) everything at his or her disposal to succeed. When the team fails, when the team does not win consistently, there has been a failure in leadership, and we all naturally expect that the owners will fire the coach. It is leadership ability that distinguishes the most successful coaches.


The World Cup Final Match

Argentina won the World Cup in Qatar after a spectacular match against France. The most exciting final that recent generations of fans have seen. 3-3 after extra time and 4-2 for Argentina in penalty kicks. This competition was a good example showing that it is not only the coach who is a leader in a team, there are also some key players like Mbappé (scorer of a hat trick) and Messi (double), both of whom also scored on penalties. But in the end Lionel lifted the cup after a match played better by Argentina, which was in control of the match. Details often make the difference in competitions as well as in projects, the phase of monitoring all the elements of the project, including penalties, was key in this case.


An incredible Leader: Messi

An entire national team and an entire nation taken to the roof of the world at the age of 35, with a one-two punch in one of the most incredible finals in living memory. 

The supreme crowning achievement of an unrepeatable career.

Dozens and dozens of personal records broken in football history, football could not fail to give him a World Cup.


How many times have you dreamed of this moment, this instant? 

Since you started playing, from the Cantera, from the growing pains, after the tears 8 years ago, after the defeats in the Copa America finals with the decision of wanting to leave the national team.

But as the leader that you are, you got up and came back even stronger to plan, execute and monitor every step of your team's success today.  As Messi himself said: “Failure is often part of the journey and learning process, and without disappointments it is impossible to achieve success”. 

8 years ago, you didn't lose, you learned.

Thanks for everything Pulga, now you are finally on the roof of the World.


This World Cup has also highlighted the leadership skills of a great footballer: Kylian Mbappé

You can say that you tried to the last, that you couldn't have done more.

You lifted your team in 10 minutes, you again scored the equalizer when it all seemed over, and you stood in front of the penalty spot on the first penalty and scored it by leading by example

But that can't be enough.

Because you lost a World Cup at the last second.

Because you fought against an entire nation, and it was not enough.

Because in football only one team wins and yours lost today.

But Kylian Mbappé did not lose on Dec 18th, because once again he shone in front of the eyes of the whole World.

These lessons learned will certainly be very useful for future victory projects

Tribute to Pelé

How can we not end this football parenthesis with a tribute to the great Pelé,

Surely one of the most touching is that of Kylian Mbappe:

“The king of football has left us, but his legacy will never be forgotten. RIP KING”