Do YOU have the All Blacks?

A mentor of mine once asked me “Do you have the All Blacks?”

Actually, lets back track a little bit. Context. Firstly, the All Blacks.

The All Blacks are the most successful sports team of all time. They have the highest consistent winning average of any team, in any sport, in history. They have a wealth of talent (an embarrassment of riches). Over time they have developed a team where every player is replaceable because there is another waiting to win the spot. The competition for places is fierce and their competition fear them, and rightfully so. You could argue that their bench players could form a team that would rival any other team in the world. Their starting side have been ranked number one in the world for more than 8 years.

Now, secondly, why this matters. I was tasked with turning around a team in a business unit once. The team was inefficient, not profitable and dysfunctional. For months I turned up first every day and left last. Every single day I came in and tried to micro manage the team towards success. The other management staff saw and recognised my efforts. But I could not seem to turn the team into a high performing unit. I put enforced structure and routine around the team and I increased efficiency and profitability for periods of time, but the team kept falling back into slumps.

One day the frustration became too much and I left the building to walk the carpark and grab some fresh air.

I spoke with my mentor – he could sense that I was having trouble reconciling my efforts with a lack of success. All he asked me was “do you have the All Blacks?”

It hit me like a tonne of bricks.

Fact of the matter was no. I didn’t. I had a couple that were ok, but some wouldn’t even make the bench. Nothing wrong with them as people, but for what we were trying to achieve I didn’t have anyone who could hand on heart say they were the starting side – but here’s the kicker – they had no desire to be. They weren’t training like the All Blacks, didn’t desire to wear the jersey and take their place in the starting side. In fact – I got the feeling they were happy sitting on the bench.

Is that the attitude of a team that is going to be world class?

If you don’t have the right team for what you are trying to achieve you won’t do it. Simple as that. You can’t drag a team kicking and screaming into success. They have to want to be there, want to achieve and believe in what you are doing.

Some bench players can be coached to become the best in the team. Some bench players need to be dropped to make way for those who are hungry to do better.

Look at your team – ask yourself if they are capable of being the best in the world?

If not – you may need to re-think the players you need and free the rest up to play for someone else.

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