A Winning Culture

A winning culture

Secondary Sports Awards Gala last night was another wonderful KISU occasion. It was great to reflect on our achievements during the course of the sporting year, winning 14 of 21 ISSAK championships. Even more inspirational was to reflect on how our young people have developed and grown as people through their sports experiences. However, we none of us can rest on our laurels. I based my closing remarks on the philosophy of the most successful sports team of all time, the All Blacks rugby team and I think there is much wisdom here that is applicable far beyond the sports arena…..

1. Sweep the Sheds:Never be too big to do the small things that need to be done. The All Blacks believe that it’s impossible to achieve success without having your feet planted firmly on the ground. Teach yourself humility.

2. Go for the Gap:  When you’re on top of your game, change your game. It is the philosophy and focus on continual improvement and continuous learning environment that is at the core of All Black culture. When you’re on top of your game, change your game. Adaptation is not a reaction, but an everyday action.

3. Play with Purpose:  Ask ‘Why?’ Our fundamental human drive comes from within. The power of purpose galvanises individuals, to the benefit of the team. What is your purpose?

4. Pass the Ball:  Leaders create leaders. Central to the All Blacks belief is the development of leaders and the nurturing of character off the field, to deliver results on it. This involves a literal and metaphorical handing over of responsibility from management to players, so that by game day the team consists of one captain, and 15 leaders. Ownership, accountability and trust are key.

5. Create a Learning Environment:  Leaders are teachers. Mastery, autonomy and purpose are three drivers of All Blacks success, where success is defined as modest improvement, consistently done. For the All Blacks, leaders are both learners and teachers.

6. No loose canons:Follow the spearhead. In Maori, whanau means ‘extended family’. It’s symbolised by the spearhead. Though a spearhead has three tips, to be effective, all of its force must move in one direction. Like all the great teams the All Blacks seek to replace the ‘me’ with the ‘we’. No one is bigger than the team. The team always comes first.

7. Embrace Expectations:  Aim for the highest cloud. Humility allows us ask a simple question: how can we do better? Judge yourself against the best.

8. Train to Win:  Practice under pressure. The All Blacks run on individual integrity. This means total accountability, and by actions not words. No one is ever late for training, players set their watches ten minutes fast. Ultimately character triumphs over talent, and for the All Blacks it is about training to win, practising under intensity to replicate playing conditions.

9. Keep a Blue Head:  Control your attention. Pressure is expectation, scrutiny and consequence. The Blue Head is an optimal state in which you are on task and performing to your best ability, expressive, calm, in the moment.Clear thought, clear talk, clear task” is an All Black mantra.

10. Know Thyself:  Keep it real. Honesty drives better performance for the All Blacks: Honesty=Integrity=Authenticity=Resilience=Performance

11. Sacrifice:  Find something you would die for and give your life to it. Commitment (emotional, mental, physical) is vital for the All Blacks. Play to win, don’t play not to lose. Don’t be a good All Black, be a great All Black.

12. Invent your own language:  Sing your world into existence. “Humility”, “Excellence”, “Respect” are the three words at the core of the All Blacks ethos. Decide on your own language as a team and use it everyday.

13. Ritualise to Actualise:  Create a culture. A key factor in the All Blacks success was the development of the new haka, Kapa o Pango. Rituals remind and reinforce the belief system to create collective identity and purpose. Building a great team requires individuals who enjoy a deep degree of trust in one another.

14. Be a Good Ancestor:  Plant trees you’ll never see. The All Blacks task is to represent all those who have come before them, and all those who will follow. As the sun shines on you for this moment, this is your time, it’s your obligation and responsibility to add to the legacy – to leave the jersey in a better place. Take stewardship of your team as responsibility to add to the legacy. Be a good ancestor, this is your footprint, your brief moment in the sun.

15. Write Your Legacy:  This is your time. When a player makes the All Blacks, they’re given a small black book. The first page shows a jersey from the 1905 Originals, the first tour. On the next page is another jersey, that of the 1924 Invincibles, and thereafter, pages of other jerseys until the present day, and pages with principles, heroes, values, the ethos, the character of the team. And then the rest of the pages are blank, waiting to be filled. By the player. Write your legacy.