Lessons from a master Rugby Coach

Eddie jones

Lessons from a master Rugby Coach

“There are people who lead and lead inspirationally, and those who don’t”
Eddie Jones – English Rugby Coach

At the time of writing, the English Rugby team had won 18 Test Rugby Matches without a loss, having won the 2016 Six Nations Championship and a 3 nil win against the Wallabies on last year’s tour of Australia. Previously England had only won 3 Tests in 100 years. (Post Script: England lost to Ireland last weekend 13-9 denying them a world record).

What has brought about this amazing run of wins?

The English team is coached by a former coach of the Wallabies, Eddie Jones. In 2015 as the coach of the Japanese side he orchestrated one of the greatest upsets in the history of the sport with Japan defeating the mighty South African Springboks in the Rugby World Cup.  The Japanese culture is very different to that of England. Jones has been able to adjust his style of coaching to match the culture. In Japan as head coach everyone does as you say.  With the old ‘command and control’ style of management there was no room for initiative and self-reliance.

It however was different when Jones took up the position of English Rugby coach. Described by former Wallaby coach, Bob Dwyer:

“He calls a spade a shovel, Eddie. I consider myself a very direct Australian, but Eddie is more so than I am. He takes no prisoners at all.”

Whilst being a strict disciplinarian and setting clear expectations of performance, he adopted a different approach to the one he used when coaching Japan. He created an environment where players were allowed to make decisions.

“You can’t develop leadership qualities if you don’t allow players to make decisions. You can’t develop leadership qualities if you don’t allow people to make mistakes. It is a very difficult balance, but you have to allow it,” says Jones

“You need players who have leadership qualities to make decisions for themselves”

Jones is a former teacher and head master. Perhaps his experience here helped in his coaching.

Jones has demonstrated some of the real characteristics of a leader – developing people, generating enthusiasm, inspiring trust, motivating, challenging the status quo and modifying your leadership approach to match the circumstances.

Can you think of circumstances where you have developed as a leader or developed others while allowing or being allowed to make decisions thereby becoming better leaders?

Life Cycle

Life Cycle

“All product categories have a specific life span called the product life cycle. Brands or products typically go through five stages of growth: development, introduction, growth, maturity and decline”

Yes, we all know about a product life cycles, just look at what car manufacturers do by redesigning car styles. Business leaders and business owners have a life cycle too! The issue is to know where you are in your career or business life cycle and to then plan and act accordingly.

CEOs of family businesses often have great difficulty in “letting go”. The issue is often an emotional one. Many business owners have invested so much time and money working long hours that they see stepping down as being “put out to pasture”. Ego, loss of self-worth, so called RDS (relevance deprivation syndrome – which retiring politicians claim they suffer from!) and perceived lifestyle all play a part.

Great leaders know when it’s time to pass the baton. We saw how John Howard, the former Prime Minister refused to hand over the leadership to Peter Costello. The result was a lost election in 2007, Costello leaving politics, Howard losing his seat (only the second prime minister to do so) and the Liberal party having 3 leaders in 3 years.

All businesses must have a succession plan. There are two types of succession plans; short term or emergency succession plans (the “what happens if you are hit by a bus?” scenario) and long term succession plans which protect your company’s culture, value and future. If you are a family owned business you owe it to your family, employees and customers to have a well planned and executed succession plan.

There is no greater satisfaction than mentoring and training a replacement successfully. If you do not plan for your succession then you have failed as a leader and have failed your business.

So know where you are in your career and business life cycle and start succession planning. It is not a sign of weakness but of strength and you will be recognised for it. I have seen too many companies suffer because there was not a well planned and executed succession plan.

Start planning now…