When All Blacks coach, Graham Henry (later knighted for his services to rugby), took over as coach in 2004 he realized there was a need to change the culture of the organization – the players, coaching staff and administration. They needed to build in collaboration, resilience, innovation and good decision-making under pressure on and off the field. After a review, Henry and his wider team came to the view that “better people make better All Blacks”. He put together a team of support staff whose role was to help all the players not only with their fitness, diet, training and skills, but more importantly to build their character and attitudes as people leaders and understand their commitment to the team and to their fans in New Zealand and around the world.
Henry set about building a collaborative leadership team composed of the senior players and senior staff. These on-field and off-field teams knew their roles and responsibilities and worked as a total team to build a winning culture designed to continue the legacy of the great All Blacks teams of the past.
When the New Zealand All Blacks lost to the French in the quarter final of the Rugby World Cup in 2007 it was a shock to the players, coaches and 4 million New Zealanders – the entire population of the country. Henry realized there was more to do so he hired two outside consultants, one a psychologist, and both Black Belt karate experts, to develop a mental skills program to raise the ability of players to handle pressure on the rugby field. They educated the players on how the brain works and each player had triggers to help keep focused when under pressure and when unexpected things happened in the game. This added to their resilience as players and enabled them to handle extreme pressure in tight games and when things were turning against them.
“Better people make better All Blacks”
This program of development has continued and with consistency of players and coaching staff over time has created a consistent world beating team.
The All Blacks won the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups and with a winning rate of higher than 90% over the last 10 years are regarded by many as the best performing team globally in any sport.
Questions to ponder in your business:
How well do your “on-field customer facing teams” and “off-field support teams” collaborate for the benefit of customers and the community?
How well do you support your leaders as “whole” people, not just in terms of skills, but also in terms of their attitudes and alignment of their personal values and priorities with your business’s mission and vision?
Focus on collaboratively creating and delivering superior value for customers is a galvanizing goal for all people in your business – when embedded as a culture it brings out the best in your people that benefits them, your customers and your business performance.
You can learn more in our best selling book, The Customer Culture Imperative.