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Leadership from a Rugby Union perspective

Leadership from a Rugby Union perspective

Naked Leader Week 844 – 21 October 2019

Time to Read: 80 seconds (not minutes!)



Many of us have been hooked by the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

After watching several games and enjoying the sport, I started to notice and focus on the referees. And I was gobsmacked.

Being more of a football fan, I am used to referees and their assistants spotting fouls, giving off-sides and generally managing the game.

In Rugby Union, I realised, saw and most especially heard a very different approach. Encouraging players when they played well in a tricky situation, giving them a friendly warning of what to do to avoid committing a foul, and generally facilitating the game to be fair and flowing.

Now, of course, Rugby referees have certain advantages – we can hear all they say, only the Captain may speak to them and perhaps above all, as the saying goes, rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen, and women of course.

So instead of comparing the two sports, what if leaders were to adopt the same principles that we all observed in Japan – my top 3:

  • Instead of continuous improvement, continuous coaching, which includes catching people doing specific things right and giving them a specific well done.
  • Ongoing feedback at the time that it matters, rather than storing up evidence for appraisals or letting things get out of hand.
  • Treating each other with trust, value and mutual respect – after all, everyone is a leader..

With my love and best wishes



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