This year former All Black, and Coach of Canterbury and the recent champion New Zealand Under 20’s rugby teams, Scott Robertson takes over the helm of the Crusaders Rugby team. I recently facilitated an annual conference for a client. Part of the conference was centred on continuing to develop their team culture. We were extremely fortunate to have Scott come to discuss team strategies with the conference.
I took the opportunity to capture a few of Scott’s key points to share – it is surprising how much if what works in high performance sports teams is the same for any business team.
- The role of leaders. Leaders set the direction, then they must trust everyone else to do their job in making it happen. The leader needs to grow people and other leaders and just be there to guide and support. Secondly, the leader must know and manage the risks or worries so that the team can then focus on successful implementation of their plan without worrying unnecessarily about ‘what if’ scenarios. You need to plan as much as you can and then adapt to the environment. A leader also knows that you can’t be at peak performance every day or week, so the leader has to set the pace. Scott makes the plan, he makes the pace and routine obvious to the members, so that the expectations are clear and predictable along their journey, which then makes it is easier to hold people accountable for performance.
- Fanatical Discipline. It takes fanatical discipline to be a great team (as their championship results would show). The Canterbury team use data and predictive stats to tell them how things are working, where they can improve and if they are hitting their performance targets – but importantly they also use data to see how they can take it to the next level of exceptional performance.
- Celebrate the wins. Everyone in the team needs to own the team’s goal and its achievement. If one fails, they all fail – but conversely they achieve together. You need to plan milestones along the journey, and take the time to still have fun and celebrate the wins, (as Scott’s breakdancing after the Under 20s and Canterbury championship wins is testament to). But it is even as simple as just acknowledging the hardest worker at the training session by giving them the trophy. Interestingly, this is for the player who dug hardest in relation to their normal effort – so not necessarily the biggest effort but for who is upping their personal effort.
- The importance of the core purpose. When establishing the team at the start of the season, the Canterbury coaching staff make sure that they connect the existing members with the new members, and take the time to connect them all back to the core purpose. In doing so, the team members understand the bigger picture of the team’s existence. That is, they believe that the team must know where the team has come from, to know where they are going. The coaching staff have realised that by the team members knowing the team history and their connection to the core purpose, it drives the players’ energy and motivation. This becomes their mental model for driving performance.
- The team is its people. The team takes the time to connect in every week on a Monday morning as the foundation of trust, but also just to connect as people. Scott also ensures they bring in the wider team, ie the families and partners, so that they too understand the plan, the expectations of the guys, the journey and the likely peaks and troughs along the way. As a result that the players know that they have the base support, and the guys can focus on the job at hand and know that they have the support and understanding they need.
- Lastly, Take risks and learn. Know that you have to take risks, try new things and that mistakes will happen, but its equally important to make sure you are learning.
I am sure that the Crusaders are using this thinking this year to chase a championship title.
Greg is a consultant at Advisory.Works