Loris Karius and the team response

A lot has been written about how the Liverpool football team responded (or didn’t) to goalkeeper Loris Karius at the end of the Champions League final on Saturday after two errors that he made resulted in Real Madrid scoring two goals.

More interesting for me was what happened after his first mistake just after the hour mark. On the one hand the team response from a task point of view was everything the coach could have wanted. Instead of letting their heads go down the Liverpool team attacked and scored an equalising goal within minutes. However their response from a relationship perspective with their goalkeeper may have sowed the seeds for the second error later on which finished their chances of winning the match.

My only data is what I saw on the TV so we have to be careful with the interpretation but there appeared to be minimal interaction between goalkeeper and team mates after his first mistake. In this situation the coach is not in a position to put an arm round the player, offer some appropriate words and help him refocus. He needs his team mates to take a lead in doing this in the moment.

This need for a timely response is as true in business or battle as it is in sport – it is the close colleagues who need to act. Without that intervention what can happen is that we dwell on the mistake we have made and start thinking unhelpful thoughts and experiencing crippling emotions when what we actually need to do is focus on now and carrying out with excellence the skills that we have practiced repeatedly.

The debrief will be fascinating and I would love to be a fly on the wall hearing from all of the players about what happened in those moments and why. 

The take out for all of us is that when a team mate makes a big mistake (and we all will) then the team needs to help the individual regain their focus as quickly as possible. Just trying to rectify the mistake alone isn’t enough.