Former England and British Lions rugby star Tim Stimpson is now brand ambassador for Midlands-based Prime Accountants Group and highlights what businesses can learn from Eddie Jones’ squad
How much are you enjoying this Rugby World Cup?! I’m so excited I feel like I’m playing!
After producing some superb rugby in the knockout phases, England will take on South Africa for the right to lift the famous Webb Ellis Cup on Saturday morning.
Who will win? Well, as ever, it will come down to which team makes the best decisions under the most extreme pressure. Each player will need to take responsibility, step up and lead his teammates.
In rugby, we worked hard to develop ourselves as good leaders and foster the right leadership culture in our squads. That’s because we believed this culture would bring us long-term, sustained success – preserving what worked well, stopping what didn’t and supplementing what was missing.
Management involves the controlling of information, which is then aggregated and passed up and down the hierarchy. That takes far too long to work in a rugby match, which is why true leadership is needed.
I’d suggest business is no different. Today, people are no longer paid to make all the good decisions but paid to make sure good decisions are actually made.
It’s better to make fast decisions that are 80 or 90 per cent correct than to spend too long trying to make them perfect. It’s much better to take decisions, implement the strategy and then optimise as you go along. With everyone continually adapting based on the changing realities.
Working hard to develop great leadership makes sense. Studies looking at profitability show a positive link between the two. The better the perceived leadership performance, as felt by the people being led, the greater the profitability.
So, the best leaders inspire employees, inspire customers and deliver the highest customer satisfaction – and generate the highest profit growth.
There is an old management principle that you ‘get what you measure’. So, if you want better leaders then you should measure your leaders’ leadership performance. The ‘what’ short-term business results and the ‘how’ he or she behaves.
But how can we measure leadership behaviour?
It’s been suggested there are three crucial elements to prioritise.
First, make sure your group has clear leadership guidelines, behavioural anchors of what good and bad performance looks like, which is actually ‘lived’ and not just written on the walls!
Second, open ‘360-degree feedback’ is the lifeline of performance and motivation. To reduce subjectivity to a minimum, base conversations on facts and actual events. Try to be patient as it takes time and bravery to change behaviours. Plus remember that good leaders are not born, they are made!
Third, consequences. It’s not enough just to know how someone leads. There needs to be a consistent reaction to both good and bad performance.
Actually, some people hate being leaders and subsequently don’t perform very well at it. So, let them focus on their strengths elsewhere. Or there may be youngsters who are achieving their own performance goals but are also over-delivering on supporting other members of their team.
Promote that person into a higher leadership role!
I hope England win this weekend but because the teams are all so equally balanced in physical ability, it will come down to which team demonstrates the best leadership under pressure.
Richard Branson once said: “You don’t run a business, you run people.”
If we individually want to improve, we need to manage ourselves better. Seek feedback as a way of learning and also ensure we are being brave and leading our teammates when they need it!
Good luck, England!