How Collective Leadership Can Save The Blues by Mark Wager

How Collective Leadership Can Save The Blues by Mark Wager

How Collective Leadership Can Save The Blues

By Mark Wager

The Blues are a New Zealand professional rugby team competing in the Super 15 competition. They have a successful history winning the competition three times and the semi-finals three times, yet their recent history is poor, with them coming near the bottom in the last three seasons finishing 12th, 10th, and 10th respectively and this season is no better with the side currently 13th on the ladder. So what is going wrong?

Whether a team is under performing on the sports field or in the office, you can usually isolate the issue down to one of three categories. Resources, ability or leadership. The Blues have the resources. They are a franchise with a catchment area covering Auckland, North Harbour and Northland. Their primary home stadium has a capacity of 50,000, so resources shouldn't be an issue. Then you look at ability. The current Blues squad has eleven players who have played for the New Zealand national side, the All Blacks within recent years and if you include the wider development squad they have another eight players who are part of the current All Blacks under-20 squad. While they could benefit a bit more from quality there's no doubt that the ability of the squad justifies far better results than they have been achieving. This leaves Leadership, the most important aspect of any team. Leadership is what is required to motivate a group of individuals in order for them to become an effective team. Some of the most successful sporting teams in recent years have had strong levels of collective leadership within their group. The German national football team won the Football World Cup, including a semi-final 7-1 victory over host nation Brazil with a squad of highly skilled individuals who operated as a cohesive team. Barcelona arguably the best club side in football over the last few years have managed to forge the personalities of world class players into a championship winning side because they know without the right attitude towards the team they will never achieve glory.

"Without my teammates my game makes no sense." - Xavi Hernandez Barcelona F.C

In order for leadership to influence a team it has to come from more than one individual. Successful teams have a collective leadership, a spirit within the team where each member prioritises the team over personal glory, the rejection of entitlement and superiority in favour of the pursuit of glory greater than themselves. It's incredibly rare for this to occur due to the influence of one individual. Its usually an individual that creates a spark that flows through the team replacing individuals with leaders until the team has a sense of collective leadership. To achieve these ethics takes time through both individual and team coaching but here are a few sample questions that each member of the team has to ask themselves in order to have collective leadership.
Eg: Am I acting in the best interests of the team?

Do I know my teammates well?
It is possible for a team to be successful if the individuals are not good friends but success is impossible if the members do not know each other. In fact some of the most successful sporting partnerships were with people who did not interact socially but they knew each other. They knew their tendencies and how they reacted to situations. Its this understanding that helps form effective working relationships.

Am I a good role model for my teammates?
It's important that each member of the team fully understands how they influence the other team members. I remember a few years ago having a chat with a CEO of a Super 15 franchise who wanted to discuss an issue he had. It seemed one of his players had just broken into the All Blacks and was becoming a star player but he was role modelling poor behaviour for his colleagues by turning up late for training. He never saw himself as a leader so felt he didn't have to act as such. He was unaware that in the best teams all team members are leaders.

Will achieving the team objectives help me with my personal goals?
One of the first things that Jose Mourinho does when he gets to a new club is to discuss with each player the importance of the team and to stress the alignment of personal ambition to ten teams objectives. Widely regarded as one of, if not the best sports Manager in the world Jose Mourinho understands the importance of each player seeing a clear link between team and personal success.

Do I know what the results will be if the team fulfilled its potential?
An essential part of collective leadership is the vision of where the team is heading and its identity which will enable them to reach there. One of the core drivers of human behaviour is the desire to be part of something greater than themselves and one of the drivers of human motivation is the belief that what is urgently out of reach can be obtained. Establish both of these and you will have the basis of an effective team spirit.

I can't say with any certainly what the problems are with the Blues but from a distance it looks like a culture of collective leadership is required. If this can be achieved then the glory days will not be far away.

About the Author:
Mark Wager is an expert in establishing collective leadership within teams. Mark can be contacted via the enquiry form below.

If you enjoyed this article check out the new book by Mark Wager. The Elite Guide To Leadership is available at Amazon for only $2.99USD. Click the image below to purchase 

If you want to become a better leader check out these leadership workshops for only $230NZD per person.

Posted: Tuesday 19 May 2015


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