The New Zealand All Blacks are the ultimate committee

Since 1905, the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team have won an extraordinary 77% of all the games they’ve played. “Ranked world number one for twice as long as the rest of the world combined, they have only ever been as low as number two,” James Kerr writes for the BBC.

Fear of failure used to be driving force for them. However, since 2004 they shifted their coaching philosophy in a more positive way towards “embracing expectations”, “walking towards the pressure”, and developing “gratitude” for the opportunity and “expressing themselves”.

A cornerstone of their new philosophy is that “Better People Make Better All Blacks.” “It’s not just about winning,” coach Steve Hansen told the Guardian, “It’s about maximising the talent and making sure that in the rest of his life, he has the tools to be a decent person.”

“It worked,” Brian Kerr writes. From 2004 to 2014, the All Blacks went from a 75% win ratio – already the world’s best in any sport – to an extraordinary victory rate of almost 95%. Better people, it seems, finish first.”

“Rather than an autocratic coaching style,” Kerr explains, “this coaching group seek to become a ‘resource’ for the players. After all, in the end it is the team who must play. Former head coach Henry even had to give up his stirring team talks. By that point, it is the team’s team.”

Just like the German team that won the last World Cup, the All Blacks do not depend on or encourage stars. There is no room for egos. Head coach Steve Hansen once said: “Take a bucket of water, put your hand in it, now take it out. That’s how long it takes to replace you.”

The All Blacks are the ultimate proof that multiracial collaboration works. They are the coming together of native Maoris and European emigrants. The All Blacks are the ultimate committee. They show just how powerful teams can be when they are focused, cohesive and unified.

The committee has suffered constant, unrelenting negative propaganda throughout history. Yet in this complex, unpredictable world, it is the multicultural, multidiscipline, multi-perspective cumbersome, consensus-driven committees and teams that are our true hope of solving the problems we face.

Today, as we watch the rise of crude, megalomaniacal, corrupt Great Leaders, it is important to know that there are other more powerful and successful models of leadership and organization that don’t depend on the Great Leader syndrome.

Any good student of history will know how much misery and waste Great Leaders have wrought on the world. How for each single act of genius they perform, they commit 10 acts of stupidity and cruelty. We must overcome our societal obsession of waiting for the next Great Leader to solve our problems. They won’t. Their iceberg-size egos will submerge all our futures.

The Web is the greatest network ever invented. It gives us the potential to create the greatest teams and committees ever invented. But it’s just potential. It’s up to us to make it happen.

British and Irish Lions third Test: What makes the All Blacks great?

One thought on “The New Zealand All Blacks are the ultimate committee

  1. PR Smith

    Superb piece. I believe the ABs also clean their own dressing rooms after matches – to keep them all grounded. Congratulations to the ABs & the Lions for an amazing test series.
    However, I think there WAS a ‘win at all costs’ culture previously as demonstrated by Andy Haden (he dived out of a line-out to win a penalty which beat Wales 13-12 and still has ‘no regrets’ & would do it again). Plus the spear tackling twins attack on Lions captain O’Driscoll – in the first minute of the first test match – off the ball – instantly ending the captain’s tour & losing the Lions best player in 2005. See for more. Perhaps this stopped them winning World Cups – the new regime seem more balanced. Congrats to them on their superb performances (& back to back World Cup wins).


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