Sporting clubs have long been used in analogies to explore how high-performing teams work and what leadership looks like. Michael Jordan’s former coach Phil Jackson shared his tips for balancing team chemistry in Eleven Rings. Vince Lombardi, considered by many to be the greatest American football coach of all time, is featured in several books on leadership, sharing the secrets of his success. And you’ve no doubt heard of Moneyball, which was made into an Oscar-winning film a few years back. While all the baseball talk might have made your eyes glaze over, there are some valuable lessons in there about leadership, perseverance and adaptation.
Well, you can add Legacy to the sport-as-a-metaphor-for-leadership-and-team-building list. In it, 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 mantras that the team live by both on and off the pitch. He turns these into practical lessons for leadership and business, with each chapter focusing on one, like ‘Sweeping the Shed’. For the All Blacks, this means that no individual is bigger than the team and everyone is responsible for the smallest details, including cleaning the locker room. Way to keep those sport-star egos in check!
The book also covers topics like the secrets of sustained success, how to turn vision into action, how to handle pressure, how to train to win at the highest level and how to turn purpose into practice. It ultimately pushes readers to ask themselves: what do you leave behind you after you're gone? What will be your legacy?
Yes, there are some hard-hitting subjects in there, but this is a really easy book to read; you can pick it up and open it to any chapter, depending on what takes your fancy. And it’s full of quotes that stick with you. One of my favourites, from page 81, is that “no one is better than the team”.
I’ve always been fascinated by human potential and high performance, and also what creates trust, focus and connection within teams. Reading this book has changed how I think about what it means to be exceptional. And while it talks about the team, it also had me thinking hard about the personal commitment that’s required at any level of a joint venture and how high-performing individuals are responsible for setting their own benchmarks.
I’d recommend this book to leaders, or anyone who is looking to reenergise their thinking on culture or high performance. Or if you really like sport, the All Blacks, or both.
- Lisa Stephenson
Founder, The Coach place Global.
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