It’s Captain Haddock’s!

My team decided last week that we needed some time together to have some fun,  Something away from work that we could all enjoy.  A pub quiz.

I was a little late getting there and the quiz was in full throttle. I had declared that as long as the answer was “Dominique Prieur and Alain Mafart” then I could help the team get a least one answer that others might not. After all it was July.

As it turned out there were some Seinfeld (NOT Senfield for goodness sakes!) related answers that I could help out on.

We know that trust is built by being vulnerable. But it’s also built through shared connections – doing something together – not that complicated.

So when I left a bit later after the Quiz had finished and we’d scooped up second prize it was a real gift to turn around and see the whole table, smiling, waving and enjoying each other’s company. I felt pretty lucky.

iStock-979592168.jpgOh, yes, and who’s butler is this was the question.  As an aside the butler Nestor in Tintin was the butler for the Bird Brothers before he was Captain Haddock’s. Blistering Barnacles!


ps Dominique Prieur and Alain Mafart  were French Secret Service Agents convicted of the manslaughter of Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira during the bombing of the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior 33 years ago this month in Auckland.

A stunning victory!

I’m a bit sad the yachting is over. But what a result!  I’ve missed only one of the 30+ races that ETNZ has competed in.  It’s sweet after writing four years ago too

Winning against Sweden when they got a penalty that the umpires said later they shouldn’t have given; the two defeats to USA in the playoffs; the capsize; and then watching Aotearoa get faster, smoother with such a cool crew. Watching Peter Burling win 7 of 8 starts against all predictions. 

The TV comentators have been great too.  I’ve really warmed to the American yachting legend Ken Read who provided analysis with Alastair Eykyn. Nice work. 

Credit is due to Sir Russell Coutts and Bermuda. What a fantastic event. 

And all the on screen graphics including heart rate monitors, pressure charts. It’s exciting to imagine the technology we’ll see next time around. In Auckland! 

A day of sports

It’s game on again!

Getting up at 5am has had its rewards – exhilarating yacht racing, a capsize, a mistake when winning and then winning by only 1 second – but ultimately success today.

Team New Zealand won the Louis Vuitton Cup today and are official challengers for the America’s Cup again.  Team New Zealand has been there before and it hasn’t always gone well but I reckon we should enjoy the success now.

A few minutes ago the Otago Highlanders beat off the British and Irish Lions 23-22. What a great game.  And there’s more to come – ABs vs Samoa and Maori All Blacks vs Lions.

Not just a day, but a great winter of sport!


Mixing up Reflection and Feedback

When a team is struggling to connect, a bit of courage from everyone involved can make all the difference.

On some recent leadership development work, instead of the participants recording their reflections in private notebooks, everyone put their reflections on flipcharts in the open area.


It took courage and having courage can mean taking a risk. This new process was not without risk and even one team member not being ready could have derailed it.

But this team plainly was ready, and so we took it a step further and had the team members record feedback on each others’ flipcharts.

In doing so, a permanent and meaningful record of a crucible event was created.

I heard after the session that the team has already made great strides.

I’m calling this new process ReflectBackᵗᵐ.  I would welcome the opportunity to use it with your team to cut through challenges you’re having.  Yes, you do need to be brave and I suggest not using it without supervision.


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#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!


A lap for the team

The Taupo Great Lake Relay is a 155 kilometre running relay.  There’s 18 legs (and aching legs at the end) with hills up and down, flats, dangerous cliff runs, heat, exhaustion, pulled muscles and lots of fun. When our work team went over the finish line the DJ said we’d been supporting the event for at least twelve years.

You need a team to get all the way round.
Lake Taupo is big – you need a team to get all the way round.

I don’t think that there was anybody there from that first team – in fact every year the team is different, but for the three years I’ve participated, I’ve felt the same enthusiasm, connection and commitment.

I’ve run plenty of team building and development sessions and one of the issues which always comes up is “what do we do now that Sarah has gone?”, or Lance has joined?

Should we start all over again and do a new charter, vision and values or what? And what of the cynics who say that the team building is artificial anyway and not necessarily relevant to the work?

A event like the relay this weekend teaches us quite a bit about the process of team building.

You need a goal. All members have a role and if you remember the goal, you should find that part to play that suits – no passengers on board. Flexibility is important – a support person took a leg of the relay today on account of an injury – perfect! it doesn’t matter if you haven’t been there before – others have, go with the flow but new ideas are welcome and expected.

I bet if someone from the team twelve years ago had come along and checked us out, it would be much the same experience that they had all those years ago.

They’d be welcome, just like the newbies were today, and we’d find a role no doubt.

So if you’re new to the team, watch, think about the purpose but get in a do something for the team.  Before you know it you’ll realise you are the team. That’s team building.


Tender men

My favourite All Black and one who has usually not failed to provide success for me in the “score a try” bet is Mils Muliaina. It seemed like half the country were concerned about who the number 15 should be and how obvious to everyone that it had to be the new younger Israel Dagg and not the vastly experienced but apparently aging Mils (oh to be 31!). Check him out here on the All Blacks site – his rugby career is truly impressive. You’ll also learn that his real name is Malili.

When All Black coach Graham Henry selected Dagg ahead of Mils he described it as one of the hardest and most emotional decisions of his coaching career.  Henry has been involved through much of Mils’ first class career and in that moment we caught a glimpse of tenderness and compassion in leadership, so often put to one side. After all this is Rugby,

The photo here catches the mood perfectly.  It shows the wonderful leadership relationship between an older mentor and a younger high performing and deeply respectful mentee. I can feel the pain for them both.

Mils for his part (I hope no-one minds me calling him by his first name even though I’ve never met him) said that all he wanted is for the All Blacks to win. He would happily do that from the field, the bench or the stands.  Amazing maturity and team commitment.

Whether he gets to 100 test caps or not, he’s an inspiration for leaders and teams everywhere. And Henry, for showing his tenderness showed why you never ever hear of dissention in the All Blacks these days. Honest, caring and driven. That’s a recipe for success. We saw that all come together with the best rugby skills on the planet on Saturday.

Go the All Blacks!

Go tender men everywhere.