I was listening to an Australian Wallabies Rugby player speak on the radio yesterday, ahead of the Rugby World Cup Final between Australia and New Zealand. I’m not normally a rugby fan, however, something he said really piqued my interest. He was talking about the culture the Wallabies are trying to create within the team and shared that they are seeking to model the culture that the New Zealand All Blacks have created. He specifically went on to describe the example that New Zealand captain, Richie McCaw, sets. He described how Richie is often seen cleaning up the player’s change rooms after a game, picking up towels and discarded tape, and especially focussed on him picking up the New Zealand jersey if it was left on the floor – Richie’s belief is that the New Zealand jersey is sacred and must be protected. And he does this even though the team has support staff and cleaning staff to pick up after the players.
This got me thinking even deeper about leadership and what separates great leaders from the pack. I realised that Richie made a decision – he decided that it was his responsibility to set the example he wanted to see in his team, and in doing so, there was no such thing as any task ‘beneath him’. And I realised that in fact, leadership is a decision. Irrespective of whether you have a ‘leadership title’ or not, it is your decision as to whether you lead or not.
- It is your decision as to whether you set the right example for your team. Are you prepared to do anything to benefit the team, or do you negotiate and compromise and only do the things that feel good or will elevate you? In Richie’s case, he was prepared to do whatever was required to set the right example, as he understands that the team’s culture is set by the leader, and it is the leader’s responsibility to lead the way.
- Setting the standards of behaviour that you want executed is a decision. Are you exceptionally clear on what standards you expect of your team, and more importantly, of yourself? Are you also clear on how to measure performance against these standards? This is a decision.
- Establishing clear objectives and outcomes is a decision and a leaders’ responsibility. The Number 1 success principle is to know your outcome, so make a decision to identify your outcomes and objectives, and then commit to them.
- Standing up and taking responsibility when things go wrong, is a decision. This is often where the leaders character will be tested. Are you prepared to take responsibility for something your team did, even though you may not have been directly involved? And by contrast, are you prepared to give the limelight to your team when things go well, and stand in the background? This is a decision.
- Are you prepared to take the initiative and take some risks, especially when you are unsure of where it may lead? Are you prepared to tackle the unknown, be courageous and lead your team into unchartered waters, not knowing what you may face? This is a decision.
- Are you prepared to make the tough decisions, to have the robust conversations, and manage the potential fallout? Understand that leadership is not easy, and certainly not for the faint hearted. You will be challenged, and at some point, you will have to have a robust conversation with one of your people around performance. Are you willing to do this? This is a decision.
Richie McCaw made a decision – he decided to lead, by doing what was required to uphold the values he believed in and what he stood for as New Zealand Captain. And through his actions, he has established a strong, vibrant and empowering culture. Even if you do not have a leadership title, I believe you still have the responsibility to lead and it is a decision that you make every single day. Even deciding not to lead, is in and of itself, a decision – a decision around leadership. Embrace leadership, make a decision to lead, because ultimately, leadership is a decision.
To your continued leadership success.
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Darren is a Sales Leadership and Sales Performance Coach, Facilitator & Speaker. He is an experienced and committed coach with a background of sales leadership success in large organisations. He applies a genuine focus to coaching and developing high performing sales leaders who are looking to unleash the potential of themselves and their teams.