211 - What Makes The All Blacks So Good - John Laurito

211 – What Makes The All Blacks So Good

It’s all about the team: is one of the key takeaways in this episode. Tune in as host John Laurito shares his new fascination about the New Zealand Men’s National Rugby Team, the All Blacks, and how they work so well as a team. John also shares how leaders can learn a thing or two from the All Blacks to improve their leadership skills further and empower their team more in the process.

[0:00] Intro

[1:00] Rugby, the All Blacks, and what makes them so good

[5:46] There’s accountability amongst the team

[7:25] They train hard to play well under pressure

[9:35] They trust each other

[11:20] How do you apply this in business? Preparation and practice

[12:39] Keep standards high and keep them clear

[16:00] Outro

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John Over the last two decades, I’ve been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good after running companies small and large for the last 20 years. Today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name’s John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic. What makes the best leader so good? Welcome to tomorrow’s leader! 

John All right, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dove deep on all things leader-related to leading yourself and leading others. I’m John Laurito, your host. Welcome to today’s show. If you have not already gotten the chance to do so, please read this show. Review it. Let me know what you think. Send me some comments. I’m always open to suggestions on future topics and guests. 

John So with that said, I want to talk today about an incredible experience I had not too long ago. This was maybe two weeks ago I went with my brother-in-law, Jeff, to add my good buddy Pat to D.C. to visit my friend Jason. And we got an opportunity for those of you rugby fans out there. You know what an unbelievable opportunity this is. We got to see the All Blacks play now. For those of you who don’t know rugby, All Blacks are basically not only the most successful team in rugby, they’re probably the most successful team in all sports, truly. So the All Blacks are a rugby team from New Zealand who are just so far above everybody else historically. 

John They are just in a whole different league now. They played the US. This was rugby traditional rugby 15s. Now I’m just kind of learning about rugby. I didn’t get the benefit of playing at Geoff. My brother-in-law played it grown up, so he’s been my kind of guy to tell me about the sport in the ins and outs and everything like that. But over the last probably six years or so, I’ve gotten into rugby and I have learned about the All Blacks, so to see them play was unbelievable. So we ended up going to DC. We go see, obviously the U.S. team were there to root for the U.S. Team, who, by the way, is a great team. Now the U.S. won the Sevens Sevens for rugby as a whole different game. It’s literally a 15-minute game. 

John You have seven people on the field, seven guys that are playing against seven. It is fast, it is quick, but it’s an entirely different game than 15s, which is what we watch. 15S is more like, you know, more like football. It’s a really, you know, to contact sport. It’s rough, it’s tough. These are big guys. They can move fast, but it’s an incredibly exciting game and it’s fast, fluid, and just really, really cool. So anyway, we’re in the stadium and DC watching this and what was amazing to see and I had heard a lot about the All Blacks and just how great they were now. To put this in perspective, what kind of spoiler alert here. I’m telling you the ending of it. If you follow, yeah, well, you’ve already seen it. If you follow rugby, I’m sure he knows. 

John But the score ended up being 104 to 14. All Blacks won 104 to 14. Now that is not and I mean this that is not a representation of us not playing well, the U.S. Played well. Now, for those of you who don’t know rugby, a try at a max, you get seven points. You, you score, try, which is the equivalent of a touchdown and then you kick and get the extra point or a couple of points and you are the total points of seven. So it’s not like 20 points for a try. So when you hear 104 points versus 14, that is incredible. I mean, it is incredible. I mean, twenty-eight to 14 would have been a significant victory 104 to 14. And again, I want to emphasize this. This is not because the US played poorly. The US played very well, but the All Blacks were just that good. So here’s the stuff that I saw. What was amazing is is how coordinated they were as a team. I told Jeff, I’m like, it was almost like watching this Broadway play. 

John I mean, they were so well, almost choreographed. They looked it was beautiful to watch. I mean, truly, and I mean that the way they move, the way they pass the ball, there was no hesitation. There was no there was such a highlight. It was graceful. I mean, really, it was truly incredible. They scored their first try, I’m going to say, in seven seconds. I mean, it was that fast. I mean, it was unbelievable. So talk about setting the tone for the game. I mean, it just was shocking at how fast they scored and by the half, they had already scored. I think it was almost 60 points by halftime. It was unbelievable. So to get that much of a just momentum going was incredible. 

But what was interesting is there are a few things in it doing research and watching and learning about the All Blacks. There are a few things that they do very differently, or maybe not even differently, they just do better than other teams. And part of it is still the mystery of what makes them so great. But part of what I’ve learned is that there is so much accountability among the team. It’s not the coach that’s really driving the accountability. There is so much ownership and there’s so much accountability for each of the players, and they’re each holding each other so accountable. And it is. It is this ultra-high level of intensity among the team. 

John They are supportive, respectful, but they are very much whole upholding these standards among the members of their team the teammates. Now what the coach the leader is doing every single year is they are raising the standards as great as they have become, as great as they have been now. This is not recent. This is for 105 years or more, 125 years. I think it is that they’ve had a 77 percent win rate. Now that is astronomical. If a team is over 500 percent, that’s great. If they’re 77 percent, that’s just in a whole different league. Now here’s an interesting stat as well. Since 2004, the All Blacks have been losing at halftime in 42 out of 188 games that they’ve played. That’s 22 percent of the time they’ve been behind at the half time. So 42 games keep that in mind. Of those 42 games, they ended up winning 28 of them. 

John They only lost 13 of them. So when you think about that, it’s not only the ability to play well, it’s also the ability to play well under pressure. And what they talk about with the All Blacks is they are maniacal about training themselves to perform extremely well under pressure, getting yourself, your mind, and your body in a place where under the most severe circumstances, you can perform at such a high level. And they practice over and over and over and over and over again. So that in those incredibly extreme, intense times, they don’t deviate from their plan. And what I saw there, what was interesting, they talk about this too, that when they actually have a process where they go through, where if they feel themselves starting to lose their focus or their concentration, they track the practices they train themselves on this about bringing themselves back to the moment they bring themselves back to the moment and focus on what they are doing now. 

John Because you know, this situation, I mean, for those of you are out there and you’ve done things that are high pressure, you know, sometimes let’s say you get on stage, you’re doing a presentation or front of a big group and you start to kind of freak out like you start to just you start to go in a little bit of a panic mode, your mind goes to a different place. It’s almost like an out-of-body experience and you’re watching from the outside. And that’s what gives you a feeling of loss of control. You’re not in the driver’s seat anymore. You’re almost like, you know, the cars are moving somebody’s drive and you’re not driving anymore. And that’s a scary, scary thing to think about that. I mean, that’s a legit scary situation. So what they practice is how to jump back in the driver’s seat. How do they block out the distractions when they feel themselves start to get into that kind of panicked mode? 

John And even the All Blacks find that themselves in that situation in a high-pressure situation, and they’re able to bring themselves back to the moment. And I saw that in action. So even though they weren’t in a necessarily ‘come-from-behind’ situation, there’s a lot of pressure there, right? That’s an important match. This is definitely a high level of intensity there. Yeah, the way that they operated was so fluid. It was almost so they didn’t even have to think about it. Now what also existed there was and I didn’t recognize it at first, but Jeff pointed out to me, he said, What you see with most teams is and I’m going use the wrong terms and whatnot. But so for those rugby fans, give me some, some slack here. But you know, when the ball is is loose, the players almost like football, you know, the scramble around to try and get it right. 

John It’s also all the, you know, everybody kind of goes in toward the ball. Well, what I saw the All Blacks do is they didn’t do that. They stayed in their formation. And Jeff said the difference is they have so much trust and confidence in their players. They don’t feel like they need to do that. They stay in their position because ultimately, if they all crowd the ball, then they have nobody out on the wings to pass to and they’re just too, you know, clunky to get a cluster together, right? And that was the difference. Like, I saw that consistently, they all stayed in this perfect formation. It was like a line. And they moved down the field like this wave, like a wall that moved down the field, down the pitch. There you go. Pitch a field down the pitch. They moved down the pitch in this perfect line and it was just passing the ball from one to another and it was just beautiful. I got to say it was beautiful. 

John So if you get a chance to watch just YouTube, All Blacks, watch them in action. It is unreal. So as me, being obsessed with leadership, obviously, I want to appeal this back and say, What is it about this? There’s a great book called Captain Glass that talks about all the best sports teams in the history of sports. All Blacks is one of them. It is fascinating to talk about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ at some of what I’ve just shared with you comes from that. But it is amazing. So the key things are how do you apply this to your organization? One is what are you doing to make sure that your leaders and your team and everybody understand what to do in a high-pressure situation that they don’t panic that when stress is high, they’re not doing things that are not in alignment with what’s going to get them to their goals and your goals. 

John So you have the only thing that that happens when people don’t perform well under pressure. It’s due to a lack of preparation and practice. Preparation and practice help you do better and pressure bottom line because you have muscle memory in your memory and you’re just, you know what to do. You don’t even have to think about it. So in those situations where your mind is starting to get that out-of-body experience, you listening to this podcast when you find that you can now focus on that, bring yourself back, just be conscious of it. Be aware of it. OK, hey, listen, I feel it. I feel it happened. I’m starting to leave the driver’s seat of the car. Just be aware of it, and you can actually pull yourself back into the moment. Be present, be present in the moment. What’s going on? What am I doing? What’s my job right now? 

John How do I need to execute right now in the best way possible? That’s what the All Blacks do. And you can apply that to business. The other thing is standards how? What are the standards in your organization? It is unbelievable to me and how many leaders I talked to that they can’t articulate what the standards are. I talked to multiple leaders in the same company. They don’t. They’re all different. You have to be able to set clear standards. What do you tolerate? What do you not tell her? What’s unacceptable? What’s desired? What what are the standards of your organization, if you don’t know? Take some time and figure it out and then communicate it. Think about it. OK? What? Who are we? How do we operate? What do we do, and what types of people are we working with? That’s the most important thing with any winning organization. Their standards are set. They’re high and they do not compromise. 

John What’s interesting about the All Blacks is they have fired some great players not because of performance by any means, not because of skill or athleticism, but because of their attitude. Part of their standards is people have to on the All Blacks have a certain attitude. The team absolutely towers over the individual. That’s their statement. And I’ve heard that from many All Blacks say that the team towers over the individual. There is no one individual that is the centerpiece of this team. The team itself is what this is all about. And that’s important. You see that with organizations that an organization is not run by one person. It is the aggregation and culmination of all those people in that organization. And those are the best organizations. It’s all about the team. And when you have that, people are proud to be part of that team. And then they want to hold other players on that team accountable. 

John Hey, listen, this is my team in your team. As much as we don’t need the coach to tell us to do something. I don’t need the coach to call out another player. If I see a player that’s slacking or not upholding his or her end of the bargain of what they’re supposed to do. I’m going to go address it because I have ownership in this. That’s as a leader. That’s what you want, right? You want people in your organization to take that much ownership where they care so much about this place that they’re going to lead their colleagues. That’s the beautiful thing. When you as a leader, when you have that, I’m telling you, you can almost step back and watch this thing just take off. But that only comes if you, as the leader, set the standards and you’re also willing to uphold them. 

John You can’t set a standard and then let certain people, you know, slip by without meeting or exceeding those standards. You can’t do that. I see leaders do that too, all the time, and that’s not as well not set the standard you worse offsetting a standard and not holding true. So in any event, I think the videotape is stopped. But anyway, the recording is still going. So bottom line, I hope this has been helpful. I very much want to encourage you to research the All Blacks. It is a fantastic organization and a really fun organization. Watch, congrats to them. I love the U.S., but wow, that was really cool to see New Zealand play, and in any event, I hope that helps in your leadership of your team. 

John So as always, like subscribe, share all that kind of good stuff. I appreciate your interest. I appreciate your suggestions for content and future guests and go down below. Give five-star reviews and we’ll see you next time. Thanks, everybody. Bye. Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader for suggestions or inquiries about having me at your next event or personal coaching, reach me at John@johnlaurito.com. Once again, that’s John@johnlaurito.com. Thanks, lead on!

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