Does the culture of a team have an influence on whether the team wins more than it loses?
One needs to look no further than one of the greatest rugby union teams (certainly of my life time), the New Zealand All Blacks. I often wonder what has made this team so powerful over the last decade and possibly since the inception of the game of rugby.
This story has been told by James Kerr in his book “Legacy”, where he outlines the All Blacks principles and guidelines for their players and talks about their culture. This is a must read if you want to see what culture can do to a team.
In Legacy, best-selling author James Kerr goes deep into the heart of the world's most successful sporting team, the legendary All Blacks of New Zealand, to reveal 15 powerful and practical lessons for leadership and business.
A great book review with video: Having read the book and having also played the game at many different levels myself, I have to say that I believe culture plays a huge part in winning and more importantly, in winning consistently.
Here are few take outs from my journey to date, both from the rugby world and from my time in the business world at Green Office.
- Understand Your Reason Why or What Your Purpose Is.
Imagine waking up every day knowing why you are doing something or having a purpose to achieve something? Believe me, it’s a great feeling. Many people never really get to understand the importance of this. Please take the time to read a book called “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. It will help you understand this importance.
The All Blacks purpose and reason for existence was that they believed, “Good people make good All Blacks.”
Simon Sinek, an author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant, has one of the most viewed Ted Talks which is a must watch.
To achieve a desired outcome, knowing why you are doing it will assist you in achieving this result.
I often ask people who join our team, "What is your purpose in life ?" I mostly get a very bemused look back from them - but I then tell them it’s ok, I only really understood what my purpose was at the age of 41 and this was attributed to Viktor Frankl’s book.
My personal purpose is to add value to people in a way that produces results. This is closely aligned to what our purpose at Green Office is “Making business more efficient and sustainable.”
Starting every day, month, year with this in mind, is very motivating.
- Have a Clearly Defined Goal or Target
The All Blacks referred to the "little gold trophy" as what their goal was. In other words, winning the Rugby World Cup. For those who do not know, this event happens every 4 years, so this was their journey and everyone in the team knew what the end goal was.
An example of how determined they were to achieve this goal was when they gave Richie Macaw a full Super Rugby sabbatical so that he would be at the top of his game at the World Cup.
As a young student at Natal Technikon I had a dream of playing rugby for my country, the Springboks, and for my Province, the Natal Sharks. A fellow team mate of mine, after hearing my story said I should read a book called “Slaying the Dragon”, Michael Johnson’s story of how he won two Olympic gold medals in the 1996 Olympics and broke the 400m world record.
This book taught me that it’s important to have a dream and to achieve your dream, you need goals and milestones broken down into the finer details on how you are going to achieve it.
Michael Johnson mentioned writing these down and signing them, as this would become a contract with yourself and that is a contract that you don’t want to break.
Without having something special to aim for, I would suggest, makes achieving your life’s purpose very difficult.
- Have a Value System and Moral Compass to Help You
Having something to fall back on or check in with helps you when you might need it.
There are many things that will shape your values system as you head through life, things like parents, family, friends, work colleagues, circumstance, leaders and many things that cross your path on a daily basis .
The values you uphold are what shape you and make up your DNA. This set of values, in any team, are the guiding principles that one can fall back on when you really feel you are being tested.
Your actions or behaviour is what will determine what people will think of you. This in my opinion shapes your brand as an individual and as a company.
This will become your personality. So think carefully about what your values are and the person you want to be and live by those values. Sometimes doing the unpopular or wrong thing is the right thing to do.
- Have a set of Non Negotiable rules that become a way of life.
These rules are non-negotiables that are designed and bought into by the whole team. These are the actions that you need to take to make sure you achieve your purpose.
I was fortunate enough to have been part of the Sharks team of the nineties and I must say, there wasn't really a set of definied rules that we had to abide by. However, many of the rules adopted by the All Blacks where kind of un-written rules we lived by.
What made our team great was a very clear understanding of Why we were doing what we did, we had clear goals and targets that were in place and our values, roles and responsibilities were defined.
These are the key ingredients to a successful culture and a successful team or business.
To find out more about strengthening current relationships and forging new ones, read If You Are Not Connecting Regularly It Is Difficult to Build a Relationship.
Please download Green Office's Culture Code.
This could help you in designing your own.
I look forward to your opinion on what having a good culture can do for a team.