My beloved Springboks have played against the mighty All Blacks for decades. I can testify to the hurt of those heartbreaking final scores going back to my early childhood. My father forced me to get up in the middle of the night to watch the games with him (there were no PVR’s and time shifting in those days, heck it was even before VCR’s!). From as early as 7 years old, I was offered coffee to keep me awake.

Yet for all the rivalry on the field, I must admit that the All Blacks are incredibly talented. The players and coaching staff consistently hold the top spot in the rugby world. They have conquered the top of the mountain. And quite frankly, I see no sign of them ever giving that territory up. When everything seems lost they somehow manage to work together. No matter what the odds are against them they pull victory from the clutches of defeat.

Here are some interesting lessons from the All Blacks that are as valuable in the world of rugby as in the boardrooms and open offices of our businesses.

I have underlined the parts I find most valuable:

The All Blacks are a ‘whanau’.

Enoka, as mental skills coach, places special emphasis on building belief and belonging. The team are considered a whanau – the Maori word for family – with an ethos that focuses on connection, contribution, candid communication and clarity of action. Most importantly, players are encouraged to take ‘ownership’. In assistant coach Wayne Smith’s words, “people will rise to a challenge if it is their challenge“. Rather than an autocratic coaching style, this coaching group seek to become a ‘resource’ for the players. After all, in the end it is the team who must play. Former head coach Henry even had to give up his stirring team talks. By that point, it is the team’s team.

Performance = capability x behaviour. The emphasis is on creating the environment – physical and psychological – for high performance to happen, which is captured by the equation ‘Performance = Capability x Behaviour’. That is, the level of the team’s performance is equivalent to their talent, which is multiplied by the way they behave: the way they prepare, the way they connect, the way they communicate, commit, and contribute. Top teams focus on creating the right culture to shape winning behaviours. The All Blacks just seem to do it better than anyone else.”

Source: British & Irish Lions third Test: What makes the All Blacks great? – BBC Sport

Here are three ways you can apply the lessons from the All Blacks in your own company:
  • Actively create an environment where everyone can safely bring their very best to your game of business.
  • No passengers allowed. Everyone is there for a reason and needs to fill their role to their utmost ability.
  • People execute the game plan, not the leaders. Leaders, are you creating that kind of environment in your company?