Sunday, November 1, 2015

Try, try and try again

That is how you win a game.

That, and with a few Daniel Carter kicks.

Saturday’s Rugby World Cup win by New Zealand’s All Blacks is a rich(ie) (I can’t help it!) stomping ground for sports mad metaphors and lessons for leadership and team development.

Here’s a starter for 6.

Creating the right environment:  All Blacks are created by the system and environment, not just when they pull on the jersey”. From the grassroots level at school, through to the provinces and to the top team, development is coordinated, talent is nurtured and coaches consistently share knowledge. 

Leadership:  Captain Richie McCaw and Coach Steve Hansen embody what Good to Great author Jim Collins called Level 5 leaders. Leaders whose extreme personal humility blends paradoxically with intense professional will.  Richie is the most capped test rugby player of all time and since his debut in 2001 he has led by example both on and off the field.  

Strength based:   All shapes and sizes have a place in the game of rugby.  For instance, there is the fast winger who typically scores tries, the tall lock who can rise above them all in the line out, the beefy prop who will power it in the scrum.  Each has their own role to play but equipped with a deep understanding of the game, organisational capacity and the ability to communicate,  All Blacks are extra clever in flexing to intuitively find opportunities.

Simple excellence:  They are constantly perfecting their technical skills and tactics – and they balance this with keeping things simple. 

Body and mind connection:   What gives them the edge is their physical and mental fitness.   They are superbly fit, as rigorous in exercise as they are in mental skills training to stay focused and resilient.

Persistence:  After their World Cup winning debut in 1987, it took them 24 years to win back the Webb Ellis trophy even if they were always mooted as favourites. Watching them play the game as a relentless eighty minutes, moment by moment applying pressure on their opponents reflects their persistence at a larger scale in that they are now the only team to win the World Cup back to back.  In the words of American writer James Whitcomb Riley “continuous, unflagging effort, persistence and determination will win. Let not the man be discouraged who has these”.


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