The All Blacks are arguably the most successful International sports team. This year they won all 14 games against the top teams in the world.
The All Blacks culture is the foundation for their success. I teach organisational culture, so I know the theory well and I am always looking for strong examples. They are not easy to find. In yesterdays interview on National Radio, when Kathryn Ryan asked about the team culture, coach Steve Hansen responded:
Well I think culture is a word that is used a lot and I think it should be, because I think it is the key ingredient. If you have got your culture of your business, your sporting team, your school – whatever it is that you are involved in right, and its being lived every day; And that’s the key thing living it every day from the top down to the bottom rather than to bottom to the top. So you can’t have a day off…If your values are x,y, and z, then you have to live those values every day. You don’t have a problem with having someone not fitting in because that’s just the norm. And when something becomes the norm its easy for a young guy to come in and sees what they do – “oh that’s what they do I’ll do that”.
Its when you have the guys at the top doing something different to what your culture is all about that you get people wandering off and losing focus it becomes a rotten culture, then you are doomed to fail. So it’s a matter of living it every day and making sure the people at the top are driving it.
Here is the full interview. Steve Hansen also talks about the teams vision.
Most kiwis are raised on rugby and have a deep love of the game. So we know rugby culture, its stories, its heroes, its powerful visible artefacts. In the performance of our current team, if we look a little deeper we can see the cultural drivers that makes the team what it is. Players such as Ma’a Nonu, who struggle to perform to potential in regional teams, flourish in the All Black environment. When you watch the players in action, you can see their focus and trust – they focus doing their own role and they trust those around them are doing the same. When it comes together it is something beautiful to behold. This video captures some of the highlights of the year. Watch for the final try of the year against the Irish and the fluidity of the relentless attack.
I am always looking for examples of great leaders. I have found one in Steve Hansen. He doesn’t come across as the most articulate of men, but what he says is worth listening to. He’s this year’s IRB Coach of the Year and has probably been the key person driving the cultural development of the team over the last six years. If we can translate his lessons about culture into action, we can have a great year at work, in our families and communities in 2014.
And a “shout out” to Kath Kozel, a former colleague and communication teacher. I was raised on rugby, by Kath migrated her from the U.S. Her and her husband Matt have become great rugby fans. Her ranking in virtual rugby peaked at number 10 in the nation this year. Sometimes we need “outsiders” to reflect the beauty of the culture. Thanks Kath.