I am half way through the gripping book Legacy which Richard Harries (CEO of Atrium) recommended I read. Written by James Kerr who spent time with the All Blacks to observe how they operate on and off the field and to try and find out what has made them the Greatest Team in the history of sport.
Their sense of pride and respect for being an All Black and what the jersey means stands out. No All Black will swop shirts with the opposition at the end of a match as they believe once you are given the shirt you don't just give it away. No one is too big for the team, Dan Carter and Richie McCaw would still sweep the changing rooms after a match. One of their rules is "No Dickheads" this comes from the team not the management.
Their culture is one of passing the leadership and responsibilities down to the players and giving them ownership of decisions. Dan Carter talks about being out too late and bracing himself for a punishment from the management, when he arrived at the meeting there was no management just the players. He said the punishment of letting his fellow players down and hearing them tear strips off him was far worse than his actual boss.
When they make decisions, they make them at pace and whether that is the right decision or not they move ruthlessly. Dominic Christian (CEO of Aon Benfield) said the same thing to me, make a decision quickly and if it proves to be the wrong decision moving quickly again until it is the right decision. He also talked about wanting to leave a legacy for the people after him at Aon Benfield and that is what makes him keep coming to work. Exactly the same as the All Blacks "Leave the jersey in a better place."
I was lucky enough to be in a coffee shop with Aaron Smith and Dane Coles (two of the world cup winning squad) last winter during the world cup, they were polite, humble and more than happy to spend 30 mins chatting to my friend and I about rugby and putting the world to rights.
Its a brilliant book whether you are a rugby fan or not, finding out some of the secrets to what makes this incredible side tick year after year.
Good luck to the ABs who are going for a world record 18 wins in a row this weekend. No doubt they will be successful as luck doesn't come into their preparation!
The All Blacks have just thumped Wales. Helicopters thunder overhead, gathering final footage. All around the country, Kiwi school kids dream of All Black glory. Job done, the All Blacks get ready to leave. Before they do, two of their most senior players, Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, stand up, grab a broom and begin to 'sweep the sheds'. Tidying up after themselves so that no one else has to.