All Blacks

Two types of organisations/teams seem to be speaking a lot about culture lately.  They’d be schools and sporting teams.

And while reading a book call ‘Belonging’ by Owen Eastwood recently, in an attempt to improve my own work as a leader, I stubled across a sporting example of culture that has genuine relevance to schools.

Eastwood speaks to the 2011 Rugby World Cup and how both the New Zealand and England teams encountered issues of players severely breaching behavioural standards during the tournament.

The New Zealand team, best known as the All Blacks, chose to bring these players before the senior players to explain themselves.  The outcome of this meeting was that they should address the team to apologise, leaving the team with the option to choose the sanction.

The team concluded that the most severe punishment was the shaming that occurred for failing to reach the standard they all agreed was what it meant to be an All Black.

The English players, however, were formally charged with breaching team rules and summoned to a hearing weeks later in London.  The players were found guilty by a single judge and punished.  Further, they were mobbed by a vicious media throng as they left the hearing.

So, some questions to ponder for we School Leaders and Teachers might be:

  • Which culture is better equipped to robustly handle fallible people falling short?
  • Which team’s players would have learned more from the 2011 World Cup?
  • Which team culture would you prefer to be in … and why?
  • Which team culture has produced the most long-term success … and why?

And finally, given your answers to the above, how is your school reflective of your preferred culture for its fallible people?

Keep fighting that good fight.

PS I wanted to share with you some videos from our Partner Schools that emphasise some of the amazing work they’ve been doing in Real Schools Partnerships. So, here they are:

… and know this.  There’s a lot of All Black about these school cultures.

PPS.  The English Rugby team have also done some fabulous work on their culture since 2011.  Quite seriously!


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