Legacy, by James Kerr

1st October 2019 by Mike Reid, Senior Partner

A business book founded on the success of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team. Not a bad way to set yourself apart. And it’s more than Hakas and inspirational ‘win at all costs’ stereotypes. Legacy maps out how the All Blacks failed, then rebuilt their values and principles to return to a phenomenal run of success. Ultimately it’s all about people, with some punchy gems that are absolutely relevant for Scale-Up tech leaders.

Purpose driven

At their low point, the coaching & leadership re-orientated from a top down approach to focusing on the players. Winning was not about imposing with fitness, competitiveness and technique, it was about selecting players who were bought into the purpose. Players who are bought into a genuine purpose perform better.

CHALLENGE 1:

Do you accentuate the genuine purpose of your Scale-Up? What’s it all about? And how is this inspirational to your team, both long-timers and new joiners?

People first

Transference of leadership (and therefore responsibility) from coaches to players was a major and fundamental shift in approach to turn things around for the All Blacks. This was more than just delegation. This was changing the role of the coaches to support the players in developing themselves to achieve their best. AND setting the expectation that it was the players that must own their own self-development.

CHALLENGE 2:

How many in your team proactively own their personal development, and genuinely feel ownership for their share of the team’s targets?

Personalised development

But purpose and accountability was just one element of the change, and it needed to come with the best support. ‘You can’t fire a canon out of a canoe’. Winning leaders invest in the best support for their teams. There is no silver bullet. The difference between a top class team and the winning team is the acceptance that it is about doing 100 things 1% better. Sometimes it is the key non-essentials that set the critical tone for the extra gear when it comes to performance.

CHALLENGE 3:

Are you providing first class training for your team? Is this drawing out the extra effort to outperform?

Culture code

‘No Dickheads’. Select on character. It’s better to have thousand enemies outside the tent, than one inside. A little water seeping through a small hole may swamp a canoe. In short, don’t endure any ‘dickheads’ in your team.

CHALLENGE 4:

… you get the message.

Bold ambition

Embrace very high expectations. Be bold and state that you are the best. Then thrive off the fear of failing to live up to that expectation. I found this element the most interesting. ‘Aim for the highest cloud, so that if you miss it, you will hit a lofty mountain’. It’s not about boasting. Or arrogance. Being afraid to state you will be the best at what you do gives you an easy way out when things get tough.

CHALLENGE 5:

Are you setting stretch goals over and above your smart goals?

Under pressure

Expectation, scrutiny and consequence. It can be the curtain coming down, the shutters closing, the red mist rising. It leads to tightening, panic, over-aggression, choking and poor decision making under pressure. Legacy talks through how teams can use professional tools and training to perform under constant pressure.

CHALLENGE 6:

Are you providing enough support for your team to help them thrive at peak performance?

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Overall this was a great read. You wouldn’t expect anything else from the All Black journey. The final take-away was the importance of authenticity and integrity.

Mike Reid

Article by Mike Reid, Senior Partner

Mike launched Frog in 2009, after seven years in industry and 12 years at 3i. As Managing Partner, he represents Frog on the boards of Rated People, and Dynamic Action.