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HR Leadership Lessons from the All-Blacks of New Zealand

Dave Stark
Product Marketing Manager, Oracle CX

The importance of strong HR leadership during COVID-19 has been a key theme of late on this blog. The right leadership tactics in today’s environment might mean the difference between a calm workforce and one that wonders what comes next. 

For some inspiration, we recommend—not as an official Oracle endorsement— an inspirational book on leadership, James Kerr’s Legacy, subtitled What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About the Business of Life

In it, Kerr spends 15 chapters discussing the importance of culture creation and leadership, inspired mainly by the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team. Here are some of the lessons that HR leaders can draw upon:

Character – Kerr covers how an effective leader sets the right example when times are good, but also under challenging circumstances. He writes that leaders should never be too big to do the small things that need to be done.  In this case for the All Blacks, it means sweeping the equipment sheds, demonstrating that successful leaders balance pride with humility and know that if the culture is right, positive results will follow. 

Authenticity – The best leaders remain true to their deepest values, and act with consistency and honesty. When leaders do what they say they’ll do, clarity, certainty, productivity and momentum are usually the results. No matter what a company is going through, a great leader helps develop other leaders and fosters the idea of people working as part of a team in the organization, not just a collection of individuals. 

Responsibility – Leaders also develop leaders by passing on responsibility, creating ownership, accountability and trust. An effective leader brings people together toward a common cause, no matter how daunting the times.  

Whãnau (a Māori-language word for extended family) and Sacrifice – Kerr covers how it’s important for employees to look beyond themselves and do things for the good of the team. This concept can be fostered by leaders through empathy and constant communication. Kerr also highlights the benefits when leaders and those they inspire put in just a little extra effort. They do this not because they’re forced to, but because they want to give for themselves and others. This can go a long way towards achieving success for the team or organization. 

Kerr writes an interesting book on how the All Blacks and others cited built strong cultures and illustrates how organizations and the people who lead them can focus on core principles to grow and improve. 

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