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No Dickheads

One of the most successful and famous rugby teams in the history of rugby, is the New Zealand “All Blacks”. They are famed for being the most skillful and most powerful team on the pitch with modern giants playing with the skills of a smaller faster player, and a small faster player playing with the power of a giant. This all comes from great individual skills and great coaching, but there is another key factor in the mix that is overlooked during an 80-minute game; the team culture.




The team is not just constructed of players with raw talent and great rugby ability, but built with players who are aligned with the culture and uphold the core values of the team and culture.


The team follows a principle of “Whanau” which translates to “Our Family, Our Friends, Our Tribe”. The principle ensures that the team culture and team ethos is not lost to highly talented diva players who are not willing to be a part of this ethos or culture. “No Dickheads”. The spiritual history of the Maori ancestors is very important to the All Blacks and this deep spiritual connection with not just the country, but its ancestor is what drives the team to be the best.


The All Blacks follow 15 principles in order to build and sustain the greatest rugby team in the world. Below are some of the principles that I think stand out that can help any culture become great and lead to success for everyone.


  1. Authenticity: Know thyself and keeping it real. In All Black culture, they believe that the development of the authentic self is critical for high performance. A common saying amongst All Blacks is “better people lead to better All Blacks”.


  1. Responsibility: The onboarding of a new All Black is put upon the senior All Blacks in the squad, monitoring them, telling them what to expect, enforcing standards, and leading by example. This responsibility is afforded to them by the coaching staff as the All Blacks believe that these lessons are more powerful coming from their peers. Leaders create leaders.


  1. Character: Sweep the Sheds. No one is ever too big or too small to do the things that need to be done. After games, the All Blacks are always ready to do what needs to be done. Many times, senior players have been seen with brooms sweeping the locker room and returning it to how they received it.


  1. Adaption: When you're on top it is time for change. According to the All Blacks, there are four keys to organizational change. A case for change, a compelling picture of the future, a sustained capability to change, and a plan to execute.


  1. Whanau: “No Dickheads”, the no dickhead philosophy is a deep belief that no one is bigger than the team, individual brilliance does not lead to success, and that one selfish mind can infect the culture.


This philosophy or belief system can be used for any team or environment that has a culture that is important to the success of that environment.

So ask yourself “Am I a Dickhead?”


Author: Stephen Duff


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