A recent post on our LinkedIn feed mentioned the Maori spirit of ‘Whanau’ as an inspiration behind our business core values. It seems to have struck a chord with many people, so we thought we might elaborate a little on its meaning and why it inspires us.To start off, and to put this in context, we’re talking about the culture behind the most successful sporting team in human history, the All Blacks rugby team.
(If you’re going to aspire to something, the best of the best is where you should aim for.)
James Kerr wrote an illuminating article for the Telegraph, where he discusses the leadership principles behind their enduring success on and off the field. He grouped the insights under five headings.
- Sweep the sheds
- Follow the spearhead
- Champions do extra
- Keep the blue head
- Leave the jersey in a better place
So how can these principles apply to our core values here at Roomex, or indeed at any business?
Let’s clear up something straight off the bat - rugby, like all professional sports, is a business. A multi million revenue generating business at that, where every tiny flaw is exposed on a global stage. It’s all or nothing, there is no room for error and to the victors the spoils of war.
Business is equally unemotional about winners and losers.
So if Dan Carter is humble enough to sweep the sheds and clean up his own locker after a heavy loss to the Aussies, then we can all learn lessons here. Nobody is above rolling up their sleeves and pitching in. Lead with strength for sure, but be humble at all times.
The spearhead refers to the three pronged arrow head that merges to a point. This signifies the unified direction and impetus of movement. It also gives rise to the spirit of Whanau, which is Maori for ‘extended family’. All work colleagues are kind of like an extended family and we all must pull in the same direction to get anywhere. The Aussies in their own inimitable way coined a lovely phrase that best sums up the character traits to avoid, “No d***heads”.
Inspiring leaders do the hard yards. It’s not always the glamorous big moves that demonstrate greatness, it’s often the little things. Talent never compensates for lack of effort and those who hone their skills constantly (be it on the pitch or in the boardroom) tend to outlast and outshine the rest.
Leaders also keep their calm while others rage. Mental exercises help with focus for many e.g. meditation or visualisation techniques to halt the onset of panic. Richie McCaw stamped his feet, literally grounding himself, while Kieran Read stared out at the farthest point of the stadium, searching for the bigger picture. True leaders find a way to keep their heads clear and focused on the challenges at hand.
Lastly, the All Blacks to this day wear their jerseys with pride. Not just the players, but the public too. They know that it represents the legends of yesteryear. From Colin Meads, Sean Fitzpatrick and David Kirk to the sadly missed Jonah Lomu, and all the other greats, the jersey is passed down with great responsibility. The lesson here is to be the role model you once sought.
These principles have formed the backbone to the most successful sports team in history. But they also lay the foundations of our own core values here in Roomex and would surely apply to any boardroom in any industry the world over.