15 Mantras to Become A Winning Team

Published:
August 4, 2022

The New Zealand All-Blacks are the most winning rugby team of all time. How do they do it? Well, it's not the budget, nor a single rockstar player, in fact, it's their culture. Here are 15 mantras surrounding their success from James Kerr's book Legacy.

The All Blacks 15 Mantras:

Mantra #1. Sweep the Sheds “Never be too big to do the small things that need to be done.”

It would be easy for the All Blacks to develop out-sized egos. After all, they now dominate their code, and have millions of adoring fans.

Pride in performance; total humility before the magnitude of the task.

Mantra #2. Go for the Gap “When you’re on top of your game, change your game.”

Mantra #3. Play with Purpose “Ask ‘Why?’”

The sense of direction is needed to create belief and personal meaning in each player.

Mantra #4. Pass the Ball “Leaders create leaders.”

Liz Wiseman fleshes out this “pass the ball” in her concept Multiplier leadership, where leaders encourage those around them to realise their true potential.

“Leaders rooted in the logic of multiplication believe: 1. Most people in organisations are under utilised; 2. All capability can be leveraged with the right kind of leadership; 3. Therefore, intelligence and capability can be multiplied without requiring a bigger investment.”

Leaders are not just the captains of the team (or industry); every person on a team should take responsibility and ownership for team improvement.

Mantra #5. Create a Learning Environment “Leaders are teachers.”

Patrick Lencioni, author of The Ideal Team Player says a pillar of high performing cultures is that team members in any organisation should be humble, hungry and smart.

“Leaders who can identify, hire, and cultivate employees who are humble, hungry, and smart will have a serious advantage over those who cannot.”

Coaches especially want hungry players.

Players who want to learn and develop their game, who constantly strive to improve.

Mantra #6. No Dickheads “Follow the whanau (spearhead).”

One selfish mindset will infect a collective culture.

Mantra #7. Embrace Expectations “Aim for the highest cloud.”

Dream big is the message behind this lesson. Successful leaders set their expectations high, and try to exceed them. Of course, the higher the goal, the greater the risk of failure.

Fear of failure can be both motivating and debilitating.

Mantra #8. Train to Win “Practice under pressure.”

This is the secret to the All Blacks’ famous ability to perform under pressure — they have literally conditioned their brains and bodies to do so. They train under pressured conditions, and they train to develop their skills.

As James Kerr says in Legacy, most people have the will to win; few have the will to prepare to win.

Mantra #9. Keep a Blue Head “Control your attention.”

A blue head is the opposite of a hot head. It’s a cool, controlled, pattern-seeing state, when you retain your awareness and your decision-making power. Bad decisions are not made through a lack of skill or innate judgement: they are made because of an inability to handle pressure at the pivotal moment.

Mantra #10. Know Thyself “Keep it real.”

Self-awareness is the catch-cry of many of the world’s most admired thought leaders — from Brené Brown ( Dare to Lead) to Patrick Lencioni ( The Ideal Team Player). It is also one of the most critical components to a healthy team culture.

Mantra #11. Invent Your Own Language “Sing your world into existence.”

Shared understanding of what the All Blacks stand for, and why they stand for it, is how the bonds are strengthened that make them so invincible.

Mantra #12. Sacrifice “Find something you would die for and give your life to it.”

Champions do Extra. Bleed on the field and know that your teammates will do the same for you. Be the first to arrive at the gym, be the last to leave.

Mantra #13. Ritualise to Actualise “Create a culture.” Mantra #14. Be a Good Ancestor “Plant trees you’ll never see.”

Character is highlighted here. And character takes a higher place in the All Blacks than reputation, because “your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

Mantra #15. Write Your Legacy “This is your time.”

But pages of the book are blank, for you, the new player, to fill in. You know what the All Blacks stand for, you know what makes a great All Blacks team member.

Better people make better All Blacks, writes Kerr.

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