As a proud New Zealander, last weekend was one of the biggest in this year’s calendar: the final of the Rugby World Cup 2015 in the UK. The contest in the final was immense, as the two best sides in international rugby battled it out for 80 minutes for supremacy in the last game in what was, in my view, one of the best World Cups ever held.
Throughout the seven weeks of the competition, there was so much passion and commitment, huge surprises and just great rugby – all held in an amazing, festival-like atmosphere, watched live by 100,000s of fans, all there to enjoy an inspirational international sporting event.
As I followed the All Blacks’ progress over the last few weeks, I made of point of reading as much as I could about them as a team. Not just about their fitness and game strategies, but also around the incredible team culture that has been fostered by coach, Steve Hansen, and Graham Henry before him.
This now legendary culture is built around building the highest levels of sports performance, as well as absolute personal and team integrity, respect and humility; that in the midst of all the celebrity of international rugby, you still keep your feet firmly on the ground, play for the team, for the whanau (Maori for family), the country and take pride in it all. It’s this mind-set that has helped make the All Blacks, from New Zealand – a country of 4 million people – the most successful sporting team in the world, regardless of code.
I think this philosophy – one no doubt also held by many other teams across sporting worlds – is something we in business could all learn from and employ with much more rigour and commitment in our own work environments. We should create teams that are focused on a common goals, and genuinely strive together to achieve them; believing in each other and helping each other along the way.
The game on Saturday was physically and mentally brutal. But, it was played with respect for the adversary by both sides and this was exemplified by the way they held out their hands and arms to each other afterwards. Sometimes, so much of business seems to be about winning at all costs. But, vigorous competition and the desire to succeed and win, doesn’t mean you need to forfeit respect, integrity and teamwork in the process. In fact, it should be absolutely integral to the process.
I was immensely proud on Saturday evening, and not just because the All Blacks won – that’s really just the ultimate by-product of being the very best you can be. Winning with integrity is the result of being determined but humble; focused but considerate and never letting yourself or your whanau down. Excelling and striving tirelessly to ensure you and your team succeed and then enjoy together the fruits of victory. I for one, am going to work harder at doing this over the coming weeks.