Breakthrough Leadership is Tough

Even for the very best, breakthrough leadership is tough.

A Tough Leader

Steve Hansen is widely regarded as one of the best rugby coaches in the world, possibly the best. All Black teams he has coached have won the world cup twice. His win ratio since becoming Head Coach in 2012 is an astonishing 87%. The ABs had been at the top of rankings for years. However, after a rocky Rugby Championship and a bad loss to Australia, despite winning the Bledisloe Cup, they currently rank 2nd behind Wales. There are rumblings that they are ‘vulnerable’ and they may well be. That’s tough for an organisation with such a stellar record to accept. However, the apparent vulnerability seems to have been created with a purpose, arguably as revealed as they overran Australia in Auckland.

Re-Seeking Breakthrough

Hansen and his crew are continuing to aspire to breakthrough performance. Many teams might have been satisfied with what the ABs had. Yet, Hansen and his team recognised that the world was catching up and that defensive patterns were adjusting to counter the attacking systems the ABs had. Changes were needed to break through this defensive response. That’s the ABs seem to have been at for the last four years. Their new system looked ropey for a while, but there were signs against Australia that it is becoming tuned.

Seeking Breakthroughs: Same, But Different

The AB’s core strategy, counter-attacking rugby based in robust defence, remains the same, with the same objectives, but with the options tweaked. The model of how the squad works is the same. Fanatical attention to detail in process and systems is a hallmark of how they work. People and culture are crucial. The coaching team, the players are all strong characters, and they are mentally tough. They also all learn (the players often very rapidly) from experience highly effectively.

These are all hallmark strategies of breakthrough performance.

Now, the ABs may not win the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but they certainly have in place the strategies that will give them a better chance than many others.

These strategies are equally applicable to businesses seeking breakthrough growth. Breakthrough or high growth is defined as an average 20% annualised growth in turnover, employees or R&D investment over a three year period. That’s tough, and needs breakthrough leadership.

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