How to achieve a high performance culture

all blacks

When working within an expanding business, such as Total Assist Group, it is essential to inspire a high performance culture, to really drive the company forward and propel it on towards future success. As one of the directors, I take a keen interest in innovative ways to motivate my team, and I was fascinated when I recently came across some of the core values of New Zealand’s rugby superstars the All Black’s.

Undoubtedly, no team has dominated a sport so fully as the All Blacks have consumed the world of rugby, winning an unbeaten record of 75% of their games over 107 years of test match rugby. Under their current coach, they have even managed to bump this up to 87%. On average, they also score twice as many points as their opponents, saying the leadership philosophy of key coaches adds an extra 30% to their performance. The All Blacks value-based culture is so unique that author James Kerr has even written a book about the 15 main lessons of maintaining the All Black ethos. Entitled ‘Legacy’, the book is aimed at business leaders as so many of the ideas can be utilised to forge a stronger and more succinct team, hard wired to generate success.

Here is my summary of how using an All Black mentality can boost business…

1) Engage people behind a cause or challenge – To create a high performance culture, switch people on by getting them engaged with the purpose, goal or challenge you are seeking to achieve. You want to excite your team, give everyday tasks meaning and challenge them to grow and develop personally and professionally. For the All Blacks, their goal is to maintain their impressive legacy, with every individual knuckling down to to ensure team success at being the best.

2) Set very high standards in key performance areas – With regards to the All Blacks, a key difference between them and other teams is that they take basic skills and game principles and ramp them up to an incredibly high level of skill and intensity. This can easily translate into business – define what areas success depends upon, set the highest possible standards to kick start progress and always keep thinking of innovative ways to raise your business game. Challenge yourself to be the best.

3) Grow responsibility and leadership – Generating individual responsibility for performance at every level of the business is a good idea and one that is mirrored in the All Blacks, with each team member considered a leader. If employees take ownership of what is required or expected of them then they will be more productive and need less pushing. There are a few key ways to build this distinctive style of responsibility, firstly by asking your colleagues questions to gain industry insights and advice, making use of the experience available to you. Secondly, give employees responsibility for their own development, giving them a benchmark to strive for to hit the next level. Lastly, use the initiative and trust the instincts of yourself or your colleagues, grasping new opportunities that may come your way.


4) Feedback encourages learning – One of the most important predictors of success for any business or team, is how fast they learn. There must be that insatiable hunger for improvement, and desire to the be the best, paired with good quality feedback so that employees know what areas to work on. An element of discipline is also needed to action the feedback and apply the learning.

5) The team is most important – The most defining feature of the All Blacks is their focus on the team as a whole – something every business should aspire to achieve. Although individual wins are great, bear in mind that team wins are the bigger picture and will help achieve the end goal. Winning as a team is often more important, and includes everyone, generating a positive atmosphere. The team is completely nurtured in All Black environments, with equality and respectfulness promoted, with everyone made to feel welcome and valued no matter what their role. Working as a unit is a vital way of improving productivity.

Quickfire lessons from ‘Legacy’:

  • Sweep the sheds – never be too big to do the small things that need to be done
  • Go for the gap – when you reach the top, change and regenerate
  • Train to win – practice under pressure and make training a priority
  • Keep a blue head – use triggers to regain focus when working under pressure to avoid bad decisions

[testimonial name=”Mark Silverman” who=”Commercial Director” imagelinks=”” vertical=”no”]”I have been working for Total Assist Group since the business started back in 1999, providing support to key areas of the business to ensure we stay profitable and running smoothly.”[/testimonial]