What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life.
In 2003, the World Cup went badly for the New Zealand rugby team and, by the start of the following year, senior All Blacks were threatening to leave. Discipline was drunk and disorderly, and to make things worse, the All Blacks were losing.
In response, a new management team under Graham Henry began to rebuild the world’s most successful sporting team from the inside out. They wanted a fresh culture that placed emphasis on individual character and personal leadership. Their mantra became ‘Better People Make Better All Blacks’.
The book outlines 15 points based on the All Blacks principles for their players and team culture. The first in the book, and my possible favourite, is about ‘sweeping the sheds’.
Rugby is a team sport and everyone needs to contribute on and off the field – no one is bigger than the team. Before leaving the dressing room at the end of the game, some of the most famous names in world rugby – including Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Mils Muliana – stop and tidy up after themselves. They literally and figuratively ‘sweep the sheds’. It is an example of personal humility – a cardinal All Blacks value that is at the core of their culture. The All Blacks believe that it’s impossible to achieve stratospheric success without having your feet planted firmly on the ground.
The book not only asks what the secrets to success are, but what are the secrets to sustained success. How do you achieve world-class standards, day after day, week after week, year after year? It looks at handling pressure, performing at the highest level and leaving a legacy.
The result for the All Blacks was a Rugby World Cup and an incredible win-rate of just over 86%. It’s a phenomenal record matched by no other elite team, in any code. The book highlights how reviewing your approach to coaching and playing the game is an ongoing process. It shows the importance of working as a team and understanding a common goal. To be a team at the top of your game, one that is constantly striving to be better both together and as individuals, you have to create a culture that people are proud to be a part of.
The book combines anecdotes from those directly involved in the All Blacks’ success, to quotes and stories from some of the most successful coaches and people involved in sport. It is also scattered throughout with Māori learnings and is a great read whether a rugby fan or not.