1 September 2023

How could the world’s most successful sports team really help your business?

Real-world solutions to real work problems.

All Blacks rugby player crashing through an officeThe New Zealand All Blacks rugby team are famous all over the world not only for their success, but also for the formidable sight of them performing the ‘Haka’ before every game.

But what most people aren’t aware of is the man-management techniques that have been key to keeping them at the top for decades.


If you’re thinking ‘Does it really matter, it’s only sport?’ you might be surprised to hear that how the All Blacks perform has a direct impact on the whole of the New Zealand economy. Incredibly, this really is a proven fact. A poor performance (even if they still win!) knocks the confidence of the entire nation and the stock market takes a tumble.

So, yes, it might be ‘just sport’ - but it really does matter.


What matters most here though is how you can use what they do to benefit your business.

One of the best techniques that they have - and it’s one that you can easily emulate - is how they deal with accountability.


They have a leadership group made up of senior players in the team which is a perfect example of what a flat leadership hierarchy system should be. They don’t just tell others how to do the job, they do the job themselves - and in an exemplary fashion.

These key players don’t just hold themselves accountable for their own performance, they hold themselves responsible for the rest of the team as well. It’s not the coach and often not even the captain who shoulders this responsibility. It is this experienced and highly capable group that wields enormous influence, both on and off the pitch (they’re often the ones who deal with players if they aren’t behaving as they should).


New players to the squad see how this illustrious group operates and not surprisingly want to emulate them. Certainly, the last thing they want to do is let them down. So, they start to hold themselves accountable - without needing to be asked. And then, over time, as new players arrive the whole cycle of leadership and mentoring repeats. It really is a self-perpetuating, high-performance motivational machine.

And of course, it is this kind of leadership that most people agree is the most effective form of leadership there is. Leading by example.


So, what is the simplest way to introduce this kind of system into your business?

Well, here’s a hypothetical example that most will already be familiar with, but don’t often put into practice:


A junior, we’ll call him John, starts his new job at your business and you ask Chris, an experienced member of your staff, to show John ‘the ropes’.

You instantly make Chris feel good about himself because you show that you recognise his ability.

And John feels hugely relieved that he has someone closer to his level that he can learn from without having to ask the ‘big boss’.

Chris now becomes even more focused on his own performance than he was before. Because he knows he should set a good example for John.

And so, the cycle starts. The better Chris gets, the better John gets.


And you don’t need to be a rugby fan to know that must be good for business.


This article is part of a series about real-world solutions to real work problems - that you don’t need an MBA to understand.

Click here to read: 80% of people fear being accountable at work. But you can 100% fix this.


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