Great Leaders Create Winning Cultures
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  • 01 Dec 2015

From the moment Beauden Barrett scored that spectacular kick chase try it was a wrap and for the second time in a row our mighty men in black etched their name into the history books as world champions. But let’s take a step back and have a look at what really got them across the line.

For months building up to the world cup Steve Hansen and the All Black’s management team were bandying about the importance of things like culture, leadership and having a clearly defined direction. They were forever stressing the importance of these factors in their preparation for playing on rugby’s greatest stage. Steve Hansen called the coming together of these and similar factors by the All Blacks inner sanctum the leadership ‘sweet spot’. He has very much taken on the multiple brains are better than one approach and is forthcoming in illustrating the extent to which that model has proven to be of great success.

The evidence of this is crystal clear with not only the Webb Ellis Cup in hand, but a seemingly unsurpassable 90% win record under their belts beneath this leadership regime. The All Blacks culture and leadership model absolutely emphasizes FranklinCovey’s second of 7 habits of highly effective people, being to “begin with the end in mind”. This was highlighted following the successful 2011 rugby world cup campaign, to which the ABs made public their intentions in going back to back and becoming the first nation to win consecutive tournaments.

Since that point on, Hansen has geared the culture and leadership style with that end goal in mind. It is blatantly obvious that Hansen himself possesses the attributes of a great leader in abundance, it is hard to argue this point when considering John C Maxwell’s famous leadership quote; “good leadership isn’t about advancing yourself. It’s about advancing your team”. For any unlikely sceptics to this fact, Hansen brings this exact point to life by making statements like “Fozzy drives the coaching because it’s good for his leadership. I assist him to do that and sit over the top.”

On the surface you may find yourself wondering, well if the coach (Hansen) lets someone else do the coaching and he merely guides that person along, what does Hansen actually do..? To use an old seafaring analogy, Hansen is the captain to the All Blacks ship, with Ian Foster (Fozzy), Darren Shand and Gibert Enoka being his Quartermasters. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Quartermaster’s role, he is an individual to whom the Captain would delegate unusual amounts of authority to, who became almost the Captain’s equal. The general rule was that during times of battle the Captain retained unlimited authority, but at all other times he and the crew were subject to the command of the Quartermaster. Again highlighting the multiple brains are better than one model taken on by Hansen, which ensures everyone’s roles are clearly defined and carried out in perfect synergy. He has identified this style as a must in order to most effectively reach their goal of winning that particular week’s game, to which ultimately would take them one step closer to their overarching, end in mind goal of consecutive World Cup titles.

We believe that culture eats strategy for breakfast, Hansen’s outstanding cultural execution absolutely proves this to be true, given the All Blacks have boasted unmatched success under his rule. As John F Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”, so we say learn from Hansen’s example and build an effective leadership culture within your organisation if you wish to win your World Cup.