Stuart Lancaster and the Pyramid of Leadership
Having worked on Wolf Blass wines and their sponsorship of Sky's coverage of SANZAR, Southern Hemisphere rugby sponsorship I have had the pleasure of meeting Stuart Lancaster a couple of times.
So to see him talk about his leadership of the England Rugby team was a chance not to be missed. With his contract already renewed until 2020 I can understand why the RFU has let Stuart lead and here are his views on teamwork and leadership.
Firstly I have found Stuart to be the most humble and yet the most sharply focused, passionate, determined and intelligent leader I have met. And also the most balanced and self controlled. He comes across as though he is the guardian of England Rugby - the game and the national teams - not the owner.
Some sound-bites that really struck home for me were -
“Leadership is not a right it has to be earned; as does Trust”
“It’s not just about results but how you go about your work”
“The core values of rugby – Sportsmanship and Respect”
CULTURE IS THE FOUNDATION OF SUCCESS
So many modern businesses talk about culture, a "winning mindset", “high performing teams” etc. and yet so few actually live the values. Given the fact that Stuart Lancaster has the highest win record for any
coach in the last 10 years
he obviously leads and inspires the team to success. England
His aim is to create a specific environment for success with culture, behaviours, standards of performance, a winning mindset. He has set those standards and boundaries and empowered the coaches and the players
Within this Culture foundation, the team is king. If individuals don’t meet the mark, no matter how important, whether they play abroad or in the UK, they are not more important than the team.
He also credited the team’s success on the coaching staff, in particular citing Andy Farrell as key – "Andy is an amazing coach and extrovert"; plus he compliments Stuart Lancaster’s leadership style.
THE IDENTITY OF BEING ENGLISH
Stuart recounted the story that the
team created a video around what it means to be English – not an easy task he
said, but the team succeeded. Likewise in business living the brand is so
important, but so is explaining it to consumers / fans. Stuart spoke a great deal about the media, as well as stakeholder management. England
He told the audience about asking each player’s family to write a letter to their sons to explain what it means to play for
and to get 5 close family friends to do the same. He then handed these letters
to each player to read at a team session, which he said was both powerful and emotional to witness. England
The higher purpose he speaks about is the
shirt on the player’s back
….not just the Autumn Internationals, Six Nations or even the 2015 Rugby World
Cup. It is also about performance being crucial, not winning; a point driven
home by the late coach of the England 49ers, Bill Walsh and his book “The Score
takes Care of Itself”. Identify and create standards of performance and the
winning will happen. San
Stuart spoke about subconscious relaxation and being in the zone for optimal performance; and as per Bill Walsh how to focus on performance over results.
He also spoke about how learning is key or as Bill Walsh put is “Teaching is
BEHAVIOURS AND STANDARDS
Trust is a word that
mentioned several times. TRUST = actions consistent with words = CREDIBILITY Lancaster
He has explained to the players after the
debacle about the responsibility they have as players and as role models
with responsibility. England
This involves the players taking responsibility for themselves, their performance and their teammates – but more than the buddy system spoken about by Will Greenwood and instilled by Sir Clive Woodward.
Stuart spoke about the All Black Team being more player than coach led in a player:coach 60:40 ratio. He believes
are currently 70:30 coach to player led but developing. England
He spoke about the players having ideas or opinions and voicing them during meetings – this was the road to being player led.
In summary some key lessons are:
1. Create the culture for success
2. Set the parameters and standards of performance
3. Build the brand
4. Surround yourself with the right team
5. Work to the higher purpose - think and act long term
6. Focus on performance over results
7. The team is king
8. Empower a team of leaders
9. Create a learning environment
For a man who spoke about the power of authenticity Stuart lives by his own high standards. His actions are wholly consistent with his words. But he is a man with heart too, speaking about the sacrifices he makes with regards to his family and the sacrifices they are making for him especially the pressure on his wife and 2 children bringing them up whilst he is not around, travelling, coaching, dealing with the media.
I congratulate you Stuart Lancaster and sincerely hope there will be more congratulations in 2015.