They don't hand out gold medals at the Olympics to coaches, but a lot of credit for the USA's success should go to its coach, Pia Sundhage, writes Jena McGregor in the Washington Post's PostLeadership blog. All the former Swedish international has done since taking over as head coach in 2008 is lead the USA to two
gold medals at the Olympics and second place at the 2011 Women's World Cup.
Sundhage, whose first team meeting included her rendition of Bob Dylan’s "The Times They Are A-Changin'," isn't your typical coach. Indeed, some might wonder about her laissez-faire approach.
When goalie Hope Solo ranted about Brandi Chastain on Twitter, Sundhage said she asked her star: “If you look at the women's national team, what do you want [people] to see? What do you want them to hear?”
Sundhage, who added that she doesn't punish people, brought the U.S. women together after Solo's divisive comments following the 4-0 loss to Brazil in the 2007 Women's World Cup semifinals in which she was benched. Sundhage's advice to Solo’s teammates was “not to forget but to forgive.”
Sundhage’s prowess at team-building and calm demeanor was worth its weight in gold to the USA.