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COURAGE “You need courage. I talk to teams at Downer about challenging the status quo, challenging the current boundaries, challenging the way we do things and asking whether we can do them better. That’s very important to being successful – challenge the status quo, talk about how you can introduce strategies that will improve what you’re trying to achieve. Once you start talking about changing the way you do things, you need a consensus on the way forward. Not everyone will agree, but enough have to agree in order to support the consensus. It’s important to have the courage to stand up and say, look, I don’t think this is right, particularly when it comes to safety. At Downer, they call it the zero-harm policy. Safety is hugely important to them and I’ve been bloody impressed. For example, they have a ‘back-in’ policy at work. You’ve got to back your car into a parking spot –you can’t park head-on in a Downer property. The reason for that is the terrible statistics of people backing down driveways and into kids or pedestrians.” ‘THE DANGER’ “In the All Blacks, we talked about ‘entering the danger.’ That’s when you enter the danger of getting emotional about things that you might not agree with. You had to have the strength and courage to bring those things up and discuss them, even if you might not be right. It became a line we used often and it was easy for people to use: ‘I want to enter the danger. I’m feeling uncomfortable, I want to discuss this and come to some conclusion’. It was all about the desire to improve as an individual and as a team. Being able to connect with people is very important. Having total connection so that you’re totally honest with each other is hugely important for progress. My experience with Daniel Carter showed that. He is the navigator of the All Blacks, the playmaker, he calls the shots. An outstanding player – the best in the world. Coaches and players have strategies to play the game, but often we’d have a particular strategy that Daniel wouldn’t implement. He’d call the other strategies but not that one, which used to annoy me. He wouldn’t call it because he didn’t believe in it, but he wouldn’t talk to me about it because he didn’t want confrontation. True story. So, in those two years out from the World Cup we talked about it. We made sure that we agreed or disagreed, or put a black line through it or changed it. In the end, we all agreed on what we should do. He bent a little, I bent a lot and we got a common strategy on how to play the game.” COMPROMISE “Initially, as a coach and manager, I was pretty directive. I’m from a different generation and that was the way of the world in those days – you were very directive and authoritarian. That was how young people were treated at home and school – and it just doesn’t work today. Compromise is hugely important. Sometimes, you just have to compromise in the face VALUES “I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking at the values of Downer and have discovered that there’s a big correlation between theirs and mine. It’s a bit different coaching a rugby team of 30 guys and a company of 5,000, but developing people and developing teams so that they function better is very much the same way of thinking. The values at Downer – pulling together as a team, striving for excellence 100 per cent of the time, acting with integrity by doing what you say you’re going to do, and having the courage to make the tough calls – are very relevant to the values that drive a successful sports team. Downer also runs comprehensive individual development programmes, from the apprenticeship and cadet schemes to leadership programmes. There’s a parallel with the All Blacks culture, which is all about self-improvement; it’s a learning environment, which I very much relate to, coming from an educational background. It’s an environment designed to help individuals to improve, not just as players but as people. Brian Lahore had a phrase for it: ‘Better people make better All Blacks’. There was an holistic approach in the team. The players had individual development programmes, which they drove: those programmes, those structures became the daily map for self-improvement. They knew what they individually had to work on and built that into their week. They’re All Blacks because each of them has an X-factor, but they have to keep working on it. For instance, Cory Jane is the best high-ball catcher in the world, that’s his X-factor. But he has to keep working on his skills. It’s about having a plan, a structure that you work within, and developing that into what you do each day to improve yourself.” 6 / DOWNER / IN BLACK & WHITE


Downer_Magazine_Issue_One
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