November 19, 2015

#7 Leadership

When Richie McCaw announced his retirement from Rugby today it was in the same matter of fact and calm way in which he has led the world of rugby for what seems like forever.

I didn’t think I would but I felt quite sad. He’s become so intertwined with the All Blacks that even when he wasn’t on the field, somehow we knew he was there. It feels like a loss.

His leadership has been remarkable – from the front, never giving up, calm and resolute in the face of incredible aggravation, determined – the best role model you could ever hope for.

I said a couple of years ago to someone “you know, we’re in a golden era of Rugby right now”.  And we were, and I hope we still are!

It’s been an amazing ride to be on and I didn’t realise until today quite how important McCaw has been to my own enjoyment of the game. He didn’t just sneak the ball out of the ruck. He sneakily led us all along on a great journey with a climatic end at Twickenham. I was very honoured to see the All Blacks play a few weeks earlier at Olympic Stadium in London. I’m very glad I did, especially now.

Thank you is what to say to Richie McCaw. Every leader can take so much from you, including things we don’t even understand yet, but the results of your leadership are there for us all to revel in. Achievements that will go down in history. And the best Rugby ever!


November 2, 2015

Back on the streets

After a month in Europe it was great to back on the bike to and from work. I don’t cycle every day, but I try for three times a week. It’s 9 kilometres give or take, half or which is on dedicated cycle lanes and half on a bus lane. Cycling on a bus lane is not for the faint-hearted, but I’ve only had good experiences with buses – it’s the cars that cross or enter the lane who create challenges.

Rush hour in Copenhagen

Rush hour in Copenhagen

I had an impression that cycling in Berlin and Copenhagen would be quite special. It was. But not just for the infrastructure – I’ll come back to that shortly – but for the attitude of the residents. A cycle lane means a traffic lane for cycles that you respect as you would another lane of traffic – more so in fact because cyclists are obviously vulnerable – not a nuisance or barrier for ‘real’ traffic (as can often be the local experience). Cyclists are sensible too – not aggressive to each other or other road users – but like most traffic in Europe they move with intent. One of my sisters said that she’d be too timid to cycle on a cycle lane in Copenhagen – too busy she said – and she’s right, it is busy.

Some streets are just made for cycling

Some streets are just made for cycling

I found it invigorating to be cycling with so many like-minded people. And it’s not just the hardy or lycra- wearing (of which there were very little). But parents picking up their children after day care, business people commuting and Seniors getting around doing their shopping. Many apartments appeared not to have car parks in Copenhagen, but there were lots of cycles parked everywhere. A different normal.

Auckland has much to offer cyclists. Just get out there and do it!

Auckland has much to offer cyclists. Just get out there and do it!

Now Auckland is not flat like either of those two cities so there are challenges for cyclists (which e-bikes solve quite easily). Copenhagen was anything but a cycling city in the mid 1960s but decisions made to retrofit cycling infrastructure and prioritise roads for cyclists made it what it is. And there’s lots of signs of on-going improvements and changes to this day.

We’re at a tipping point in Auckland with some fantastic projects completed and underway which have the potential to transform the use of cycling as a viable means of transport. Normalisation and attitude changes to embrace commuters on cycles will hopefully follow. That’s when the tipping point will have been realised.

So why bother? It’s clean, healthy, reduces the need for roads to be built and above all else (if you want to be selfish), it’s so much fun! And being joyful is as good a reason as any to get on that bike. If you haven’t tried it for a while, I bet you’ll be smiling in no time. Chances are it will be faster than the car.

And what’s this got to do with leadership: You’ll start and finish the day in a much better mindset and it feels an authentic and connected way to move around. A virtuious cycle you could almost say!



November 1, 2015

Winning with a story of history

After the All Blacks won today’s Rugby World Cup Final there was the usual (and more) interviews with players and coaching staff. All talked of a great group of men and of playing for each other. The opposition was acknowledged.  Team-mates were acknowledged first: when Ma’a Nonu was asked about his brilliant individual Try his response was that he got a great pass from Sonny (Bill Williams).

In those answers you got a glimpse of the team culture that is about each other and not about individual heroics, although there were plenty today!

What also come through was referencing back to history. Richie McCaw referenced the 2011 tournament and what they had done to build from that. Others including Dan Carter did too.

It was a privilege to be at RWC2015

It was a privilege to be at RWC2015

It seemed to me that to make history, this team planned it from an historical moment in 2011 and drew strength, insights and learnings from that and other experiences in the past. Using Story-telling at its best and most effective I reckon.

You might not make a Rugby-mad public excited as it was today, but what can your stories do for you and your team?

Check out that link for quick tips on developing your own story.



August 15, 2015

142 and counting

Richie McCaw will play his 142nd Rugby test tonight.  A world record. He should get to 147 and if the ABs get through the quarter finals at RWC15 to 148 or 149.  Sir Graham Henry says he’s the most influential player in the history of the game. Only two yellow cards (one this year as I recall). Seems calm, dependable, strong and is held in respect. Looked pretty angry last week when the team failed to fire. But didn’t lose his cool (not that we saw anyway!). All great leadership traits.

The rugby public enjoy and admire him.

I’ve never heard Richie McCaw boo or bad mouth an opponent. Even when he’s been eye-gouged he shrugs it off as part of the game.

Tonight the Wallabies will kick for goal.  AB fans will boo to try and put Quade Cooper (a Kiwi) off.

If it’s good enough for Richie McCaw to swallow any bad play directed at him, it’s good enough for us to respect the opposition. Play hard, hate to lose, but don’t be a bad sport.

The public should follow Richie I reckon.  Then the occasional loss wouldn’t be such a bitter pill. Maybe!


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