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The right head gets ahead - lessons from The All Blacks

Veranda Talk columnist  for The Lismore Echo Dr Airdre Grant.
Veranda Talk columnist for The Lismore Echo Dr Airdre Grant.

SINCE you asked, here's more on rugby. I was talking with my friend, a rugby coach, about the strong team spirit and ethos of good behaviour that comes with the All Blacks. For example, after a game they leave the change room clean. Ah, he said, that's the No D#@kheads policy. He then explained it to me along with the 15 All Black principles.

The All Blacks mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka, introduced this policy, which came originally, I am told, from Sydney Swans.

The aim of the policy is to wean out inflated egos and create a cohesive, mutually supportive and respectful team. A d#@khead makes it all about them, he said, they may have a sense of entitlement, along with great talent. But if a great talent puts themselves ahead of the team and expect rules to be different for them, it's a problem. In rugby we pass the ball. No one is bigger than team, the team always comes first.

The All Blacks select on character as well as talent. If you want to be the most brilliant star in the universe, then playing for the All Blacks is not for you. Talent is not more important than being part of a team. They mean it; this is no management course platitude. When it comes to recruitment and line-up - the motto is clear: "if you can't change the people, change the people.”

The 15 All Black principles are pragmatic and simple. Sweeping the shed is one of them. This means you see what needs to be done, and you do it. Like cleaning the dressing rooms after a game.

Everyone. Legendary players like Dan Carter and former All Black captain Richie McCaw would clean up the dressing rooms along with everyone else. You're not too much of a hotshot to pick up after yourself. Leave a place cleaner than you found it. These simple actions keep players grounded and foster humility, integrity and accountability. Culture is really important. In a team you are part of a culture of belonging and acceptance. Many organisations focus on values and vision, when in reality it's the culture within that matters. This is such a good point. A strong culture creates a sense of inclusion, mutual respect, goodwill and desire for the team to win.

I'm inspired now. What better to be part of a culture that is about winning when the team wins, not being so big for your boots that you forget how to clean up after yourself, where people are accountable (they set their watches 10 minutes fast to make sure they are on time) and take responsibility for their actions. A culture that has no place for D#@kheads.

Topics:  all blacks dan carter dr airdre grant


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