All Blacks coaching and leadership in elite teams

This is an excellent article on successful coaching techniques for elite teams. There are a lot of parallels between elite sports teams and highly performing technical teams. Some quotes:

As Henry stated: “Better People Make Better All Blacks, came from that meeting after that Tri-nations tour in 2004… It’s evolved, and it’s pretty good now. But … you’re always gonna get better.”

What you do shouts so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying.’

“The best thing about the All Blacks at the moment is that players can contribute so much. Beforehand I think it was dictated to us what our days consisted of. [Being able] to contribute… makes your work a lot easier than if you are being treated like a schoolkid being dictated to”. Byron Kelleher (All Black)

Both coaches (Hendy and Smith) emphasized the importance of transferring responsibility to the players, empowering them, expecting more ownership, and expecting accountability from them for the team’s success, both on and off the field.

Peer-ownership, peer-responsibility, them running the culture, and the environment of the team was hugely important to the success of the side. Because at the end of the day they knew they were totally responsible when they got on that field… They’d been given the responsibility. …We thought that was the best way of developing a rugby side… The more confidence you can give them in leading the team, in making decisions on the field, the better they’re gonna play. Also it makes them feel good, it’s good for their self-esteem.

So a simple way to live that day-by-day is to not spoon-feed players [as a coach]. And that might be [something simple like] not handing out a daily plan every day.” Wayne Smith, All Black Coach

About every seven weeks we would try and freshen the way we were doing things. So that might mean we would review the game differently. Or we’d change the training week… At one point the coaches all changed [roles]… At the end of 2009, I became defence and counterattack coach… Graham became line-out coach. And Steve became the attack coach… Then, in 2010 we changed again… We felt that we’d stopped improving. …It was seen as pretty radical… [one journalist] said it was like shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic. But we had a feeling it would be good for us. Wayne Smith, All Black Coach

We also focused on increasing the enjoyment.