r1This sporting life – the All Blacks, Adidas and Arsenal: what they teach us about employee engagement

I’m not a huge fan of sporting analogies in a business context. Most are a bit obvious, a bit trite, with little in the way of genuine relevance or application. However, I became aware of two over the last week which I thought merited broader consideration. Firstly, James Kerr’s ‘What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life’ is fascinating. Three insights point to why this island of just 4.4m can produce a sporting team that has been at the forefront of the game for generations and are the current world champions.  And the book’s insights demonstrate as much about team and organisational alignment as they do about sporting success.

Whoever you are, whatever the success you have attained, the skipper or the rookie, at the end of an All Blacks game, you clean up after yourself. The mud, the bandages, the fragrant socks. You literally sweep the sheds. Humility is a key part of the culture. No one is above sweeping the shed, no one is above the team. And for that reason, everyone in the group has to follow the whanau or spearhead. The All Blacks see themselves as an extended family – character is as important, if not more so, than ability. ‘No dickheads’ is a key mantra – a few high profile British rugby players (let’s call them, say, Gavin or Danny) might struggle then to make this side. Finally, for a sport that, by necessity is about short careers, more important for the All Blacks than personal glory is leaving the jersey in a better place. Or enhancing the legacy of the team.  The reputation or brand of the team is all important.


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December 6, 2013 in Marketing