By: Chris Teague

Better People Make Better All Blacks

Our culture is our USP and our number one priority – as we grow we want to maintain this and embed it as the way we do business: we lead rather than follow, we strive to be better than before and we respect one another.

So with this in mind several of us have been reading two key books in this area and I’d like to share some of the key insights.

The first book is ‘Better than Before’ by Gretchen Rubin. ‘Progress, not perfection’ is the ultimate goal and what was really useful/insightful is that we all fall into one of ‘Four Tendencies’ and these affect habits. In a nutshell, it distinguishes how people tend to respond to expectations: outer expectations & inner expectations. This is Gretchen’s quick overview of the 4:

  • Upholders: respond readily to outer and inner expectations (I’m an Upholder, 100% both my colleagues & I immediately recognised that)

  • Questioners: question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense–essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations

  • Obligers: meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves

  • Rebels: resist all expectations, outer and inner alike

Understanding that we each have different tendencies and knowing what they are helps improve your team interactions and helps play to people’s strengths. Knowing our own tendencies enables us to create new habits that will stick so rather than starting a routine that goes against our natural tendencies you can come up with habits that play to your natural tendencies. This has been eye opening for several of us.

To discover which of the 4 you fall into you can do the test yourself: http://tinyurl.com/z4z5jqr

The second book is ‘Legacy’ By James Kerr: What are the secrets of success – sustained success? How do you achieve world-class standards, day after day, week after week, year after year? I devoured this book in a day & I have never highlighted so many relevant quotes/insights on team culture before – the book was well and truly red-inked and dog-eared.

“Better People Make Better All Blacks” this was the quote that stood out most for me. The route of this is education; each and every person must be committed to becoming a better version of themselves. There are so many quotes that stood out – these are just some I thought I’d share:

  • The challenge is to always improve, to always get better, even when you are the best. Especially when you are the best.

  • ‘Sweep the sheds.' Never be too big to do the small things that need to be done.

  • All Blacks tidy up after themselves. Sweeping the sheds. Doing it properly. So no one else has to. Because no one looks after the All Blacks. The All Blacks look after themselves.

  • ‘It’s not expecting somebody else to do your job for you. It teaches you not to expect things to be handed to you.'

  • Collective character is vital to success. Focus on getting the culture right; the results will follow.

  • It is the identity of the team that matters – not so much what the All Blacks do, but who they are, what they stand for, and why they exist.

  • To become an All Black means becoming a steward of a cultural legacy. Your role is to leave the jersey in a better place.

  • To enhance the jersey and pass it on in a better state than what it was when you got it.

  • For the Strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

  • High-performing teams promote a culture of honesty, authenticity and safe conflict.

We’ve been doing a lot of work on the latter and it’s not easy to do. It involves everyone saying what they truly feel about things, sharing our personal stories so we each understand what shapes our opinions on business and life.

We’ve had tears and undoubtedly times of great discomfort; however having done the task we all feel closer and we better understand why we behave in certain ways and in certain environments or circumstances. I would encourage any team aiming to be an elite team to do it.

Categories: Thought Leadership