Bringing Rugby to the Boardroom - Part 1

Josh Hawkins
August 20, 20184 mins read

What a successful rugby team can teach us about business success.

I have wanted to write this blog for a long time. The idea came when I was on the way to training one evening at Waverley Rugby Club. Being a player of the game and an avid fan, I am intrigued by what makes a successful Rugby team. Also, as a recruitment consultant specialising in Accounting & Finance, I am also intrigued by what makes a successful business, and why finding the right talent is so important to a business's success. I wondered if there were similarities between the two and after reading “Legacy”, by James Kerr, it became apparent there are! 

So I have decided to write a three-part blog on this topic where I will be discussing the key areas I believe to be critical for a team & a business's success. The first part is about Purpose:

Part 1 - Purpose 

“People don’t buy ‘what’ you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it” - Simon Sinek

If you look at some of the most successful teams, such as The All Blacks (Rugby), or Real Madrid (football), or Golden State (basketball), or Aston Villa (just kidding, maybe 20 years ago!) you will find they all have a strong vision & purpose, both collectively and individually. This engages and enables the players to perform to the best of their abilities and outperform their competition. 

Purpose is driven by core values which resonate with each individual. So when you have a team of people all sharing the same values & vision, it becomes a powerful force. I see this most with the All Blacks. I have watched countless matches and even when they are losing a match they seem to find a way to turn it around and secure a win. As a team, the All Blacks have an immense collective purpose to “act like an All Black” on and off the pitch. To create this they first needed to identify and define their beliefs and values so that anyone putting on the famous All Blacks jersey lives and breathes their vision & purpose. You see this evident in their attitude on and off the pitch. The first team players even clean out the changing rooms after their games which is extremely uncommon among many sports teams even at the amateur level let alone elite level.

“Leaders connect personal meaning to a higher purpose to create belief and a sense of direction” 

So how does this all relate to the business world? 

Personal meaning & values are a way of connecting ourselves to a wider team/organisation. If an organisation can align its beliefs and core values to its employees beliefs & values, they will work harder towards its success. If not, our individual motivation and purpose will suffer, and so will the organisation (James Kerr - Legacy).

There are a few companies I think to do this very well, one of which is Johnson & Johnson. They have their “credo” - which is a statement of purpose and outlines their responsibilities as an organisation & employer (please click HERE to read more on this). I think this is incredibly impactful on the motivation of its employees because it shows the organisation takes responsibility for aligning itself with its employees, customers & shareholders needs.

Other companies do this very well also, Linkedin puts it’s “members first”, whilst Campbell Arnott’s are all about “making a difference” and being “innovative & creative”. 

So how can leaders use this to create successful teams? 

Fundamentally speaking, our drive comes from intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivations. So as leaders, if we are able to understand the intrinsic motivations of our team members we will be able to shape a vision that the team can collectively work towards. We do this by asking first; Why? Why are we doing this? Why are we spending our efforts on these tasks? If these questions can be answered and truly believed by everyone, it can unlock unbelievable amounts of potential.

I was fortunate to attend an event hosted by Morgan Mckinley with Gill McLaren - author of Think.Plan.Live and CEO of Syntegrate. She spoke about ‘Life Design’ - a holistic approach that helps you discover and define your strongest values, strengths, passions and gifts in both your career and in your personal life. I believe it is vitally important for individuals and business leaders to identify our ‘why’s and align ourselves with businesses which share these common values. 

If you are interested in attending events such as this, feel free to reach out to me at Next week I will be sharing part 2 on Bringing Rugby to the Boardroom. Please comment below if you have any thoughts or would like to join the discussion on Part 1.

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