This week I have been busy attending the launch events for the RFU Leadership Academy for leaders within Community Rugby Clubs.  It's a programme designed to develop both today's and tomorrow's leaders because, similar to small business, we all know that the quality of an organisation is highly linked to the quality of its leadership.

Even though clubs are run by volunteers they face similar issues to those of small business owner; how to create a vision and strategy for the long term, motivating people and managing change.  Sir Clive Woodward had some twelve useful leadership lessons for rugby teams and it also applies to leaders of clubs and small businesses:

(Adapted from The Sunday Times June 19, 2005)

  1. Good leadership is transferable across disciplines. If you have proved that you can successfully manage a team or an organisation in one industry, the chances are that you would fare equally well in another
  2. Passion is all. No manager will succeed without it.If you’re ambitious, don’t stay in a job just for the money or status. You will never excel unless you do what you want to do rather than what you feel you ought to do
  3. Enjoyment is a business term. While strategy, planning and organisation are all necessary, don’t lose sight of the fact that there are human beings who volunteer with you who won’t perform unless they enjoy their task. Always challenge your people with new ways of doing things, new ideas. Always make them feel that they are progressing as individuals
  4. Only hire those who pass the ‘24-hour plane journey’ test. To maintain your level of enjoyment, you need the right people around you. When you recruit, don’t just look at the CV. Would you want that person with you day in, day out, for years?
  5. Achieve success through setbacks, and build on success. Work hard to learn the lessons of victory and success. Don’t dwell on failure. Focus on the positive.
  6. Remove all ‘energy sappers. Too much nonsense is written about motivation. You need to get the right people, all of them committed to achieve. If there are those who don’t share that commitment, move swiftly to turn them round. If their attitude doesn’t improve, get them out before the entire working atmosphere is tainted irreparably
  7. Establish ‘teamship’ rules at the outset. When you start managing any team of people, sit down with them and thrash out a set of standards and rules by which everyone has to abide. Once you get this buy-in, everyone can concentrate on moving the business forward without fear of disruption
  8. Make use of the creativity of everyone in your organisation. Intelligence and fresh thinking are not the preserve of senior executives and MBA graduates. If you neglect to consult the grass roots, you might lose out on ideas which could change your business
  9. For a fresh view, go outside your industry. People who work in the same industry tend to end up thinking the same. If you genuinely want new ideas, don’t forget to consult people you respect who have never worked in your industry
  10. Never follow tradition for its own sake. ‘That’s the way we do things here.’ You’re not ever going to beat the competition with that sort of complacency. Look at absolutely everything your team or club does and then ask yourself honestly, ‘Should we really still do it this way?’
  11. Don’t neglect any detail. It could make all the difference. Competition can be fierce. What then differentiates the best from the also-rans? It’s those one per cents, the ‘critical non-essentials’
  12. Understand your team, but don’t get too close. Your relationship with your team should be a delicate balancing act. Get to know something about their lives outside work so that you can understand them better and so that they feel part of a team where people care. But never get too close. That might compromise you.