A few weeks ago I finished reading the book ‘Legacy’ by James Kerr. A brilliant read that gave an insight into how the All Blacks changed their culture and have come back to be the worlds strongest and most dominant rugby team once again. A highly recommended read.
I’ve now gone and finished another book, much of the same style about leadership in sports and how that can be transferred into business. Bill Walsh was the coach of the San Francisco 49ers, taking them from the worst team in the competition to winning their first Super Bowl in only 2 years. He then went on to win 3 Super Bowls over the next 8 years during a tremendously successful dynasty that has made the 49ers a household name even to those who aren’t fans of American Football. His book “the score takes care of itself’ gave a much more detailed insight into how he transformed the organisation, not just the team, into a powerhouse as it is written in first person, even though he was interviewed. Nothing is missed in this book.
As for ‘Legacy’ I thought I would summarise my ‘dog-eared’ pages. These are not necessarily the ones I related to most, as there was lots of great information and insight I related to, but maybe things that I hadn’t yet come across or weren’t as familiar, or messages that were unique.
A winning organisation is an environment of personal and professional development, in which each individual takes responsibility and shares ownership.
My take home message (MTHM): EACH individual must take responsibility and be accountable, don’t worry about pointing the finger, change what you can change. Even if you are up the top of the pyramid.
Leaders create leaders.
MTHM: By getting the leaders to actually lead, with their actions and set standards, you are creating a culture that will be passed on and will be beneficial for the next generation of players or employees and people holding the roles of responsibility. I was very fortunate to be led by some of the best leaders in the game. The ones when I was younger shaped the way I held myself for the rest of my career, they were great leaders by example, and I’m very grateful for that.
Page 26: OODA
OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.
MTHM: This is definitely something that I feel as though I have developed throughout my career. More so the Observe and Orient stages of this rather than simply deciding and acting. I get frustrated with indecisive people who can’t make decisions, nothing gets done or achieved. A high ranking army officer said to me once at a couple of days training camp “The wrong decision is to not make a decision, you are then a sitting duck. Be decisive, you can always change course if you see a better way.” Brilliant.
Page 27: Follows on from above. Attack with absolute and ruthless commitment- assess, adjust and repeat.
MTHM: Exactly as it says above. This can be done daily, weekly, monthly, whatever. But when you commit, just go for it.
Page 37: The ‘Hawthorne Effect’. The idea that emotional reward is more important than material compensation. Some research is also cited
“Asked what they considered ‘very important’ to them now, 16% checked ‘making a lot of money’; 78% said their first goal was ‘finding a meaning and purpose to my life”.
MTHM: $$$ DEFINITELY should not be your motivating factor. If that’s the reason you get out of bed, you probably want to search for a new purpose or find a new job, one that is more fulfilling. In saying that, money can buy experiences, that lead to memories, so don’t be ashamed in saying money is not at all a factor.
Page 39: Talking about a TED talk given by Simon Sinek (I haven’t seen it, yet), author of ‘Start with why’, who maintains “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
MTHM: People love to follow people with passion, be open and honest and express that. I love seeing captains, coaches and people in business who are passionate, in the words that they speak and their actions. Passion sells.
Page 56: Enlightened leaders deliberately hand over responsibility… By creating a devolved management structure, leaders create ownership, autonomy and initiative.
MTHM: If you want to get employees or players to shine, give them accountability and input, step back and let them shine. No one likes a stubborn dictator, especially one that never listens to their ‘advisors’.
Page 60: “the best sports people in the world practice more than they play… Business people should go home at night and analyse their day’s performance. They don’t and they need to”.
“Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence, only in constant improvement and constant change.” He argues that success is the result of a long-term commitment to improving excellence- the small steps leading to a mighty leap.
MTHM: People I know, both who are employees and business owners, I think would find it very, very hard to handle being reviewed everyday. Everyday. Every training sessions is reviewed when you’re a professional athlete. I am constantly thinking to myself when working now or walking into shops or businesses how I could improve something, a system, process or a lot of the time, customer service. Businesses, managers and employees should be constantly reassessing what they do and the way they do it. That’s how excellent firms become excellent, and how the best players in the game don’t just get to the top, but stay there. They are always, always trying to improve.
Page 80: Smith (Wayne Smith) proposed to the Leadership Group the idea of a regularly scheduled social night in which players would don their club jerseys and ‘have a quiet drink’ together.
“To be able to work together, communication is the biggest thing” says Smith “And I think that comes from a team that has good links from off the field… a team able to spend time together and talk to one another and be honest with one another… I think the other thing that was really important was the connection between people”
MTHM: I just thought this was a great way to get around the good old bonding sessions (don’t get me wrong I love a good bonding session). Just a quiet drink, implies it was just that, which I definitely think professional players, like anyone, need at times. Even if just a few. The fact that it was organised or suggested by a coach, and therefore was a lot more controlled says a lot about the coaches and realising the benefit of this social aspect and finding a way to incorporate it without going over the top.
I think connection is one of, if not the most important factors in the success of a professional sporting team, any sporting team and businesses, 100%.
Page 81: “No dickheads”. The All Blacks strictly maintain the maxim they borrowed from the Sydney Swans.
No one is bigger than the team and individual brilliance does not automatically lead to outstanding results.
MTHM: Well at least we can proudly say, as Australians, that they learnt one thing from us.
We see too often clubs jeopardising the culture of a club, all for the sake of one player. It might be happening now in a code in Australia, who knows…
But if an individual wants to take credit for the success of the team, they will hopefully soon realise they are nothing without those around them playing well, unless they are still blind to this through their arrogance. As Bill Walsh says in his book “The strength of the wolf, is in the pack”. This is no different in business, especially those in leadership roles, give credit to your team.
Page 93: In Bruce Chatwin’s book, The Songlines, he explores the Koori (Australian Aboriginal) belief that as young men go walkabout, the words they chant ‘sing their world into existence’. With the words they sing come images, new ancient landscapes of their mind’s eye: the dream about becoming the reality, the word made world.
MTHM: This is just intriguing to me. The book doesn’t go into much depth in regards to this, so I’m not exactly totally sure of how to take it, but I feel as though it’s something I might want to investigate further. Another book added to the ‘to read list’.
Page 123: “To know how to win” the saying goes “You first have to know how to lose”.
MTHM: Once you have lost, you realise how hard it can be to win and how you can still put in a great deal of effort and still come up short. I think this happened to us at the Reds when we won in 2011. It all just clicked that year and a lot of people thought or hoped there’d be a dynasty. I had seen at the Waratahs though, in which I was a member of the 2008 Super Rugby final that we lost to the Crusaders how hard we had worked and not come away with the prize. A very, very talented team. Some of those blokes had come so close on numerous occasions. The difference between Champions and finalists over the course of a season, is ridiculously minimal. Don’t take it for granted.
Once you have lost, you will appreciate the win a lot more, in rugby, in business, and in life….