We’re deep into rugby season and, just as the first All Blacks team of 2021 was announced, I had the good fortune to find myself sitting with legendary former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry. He was in town to speak with the team at PCL Contracting and, before he shared his wisdom with us all, I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about team culture and motivation.
I shared with him a description of a slide I’ve used for many years when I talk with businesses and peer board members about culture. It is a picture of Wayne Smith with the caption ‘Vision Driven, Values Led’ – very much the All Blacks approach and one that aligns closely with the business world.
He elaborated on this, telling me that in a values led organisation, success is driven by the team – not the coach. Culture has to come from the top down with the leaders in the team upholding the agreed values. When behaviours reinforce those values they need to be acknowledged but when behaviours are at odds with values, that’s when the difficult conversations have to happen. If no action is taken and bad behaviours are ignored, those bad behaviours become the norm by default. He also said that one of his most empowering moments was the realisation that success is down to the team, not the coach. The coach harnesses the collective knowledge of the team – knowledge that exceeds that of a single coach.
We do know that what works for sport often works well for business and harnessing collective wisdom is very much the business of The Alternative Board. Our board members are drawn from all types of businesses and together they address – and find solutions for – the challenges and opportunities they face. We can take the team approach back to our our own enterprises too – as business owners if we constantly take full responsibility for everything we will be permanently exhausted and our employees will not achieve their potential.
The message then is let the team lead. As a business owner – and coach – you facilitate the harnessing of collective wisdom, monitor behaviours and their alignment to your values. You encourage the team to be guardians of the vision and values that have been agreed and in doing so, you’ll give them great opportunities to develop – and be the best that they can be.