Spain’s victory last night in the European Championship final offers us a shed-load of sporting metaphors around teamwork, passion, drive and commitment, but there’s an additional analogy to be found for communicators in the way they kept the ball. Think of the football as a message. You can lump it up the field and hope someone gets on the end of it, or you can pass it neatly from one player to the other, building interaction, craft and purpose along the way. Some of the lesser teams, England included, tend to lose the ball and the pattern breaks down. Lose the message and understanding breaks down. Lose the match and engagement suffers. Possession is key – passing the ball builds trust, insight, skill, understanding, confidence and ultimately success. At work, we ask our people to keep possession of a set of messages, and when it works well, the outcomes are the same. Think of passing the ball as having conversations. What’s more, players who contribute to a goal are recognised for their ‘assist’, just as we seek leaders, managers and role models to ‘assist’ the understanding of messages. Some players are artists and innovators, whilst others are more direct and functional, just like some business communicators are great orators and others are better in small groups. But we rely on them equally as part of an eco-system (team) to use their individual skills and styles for the common good. Many sporting metaphors are over-used and cheesy, but you can’t deny the parallels are there.