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6 Team Leadership Tips From An Unbeaten Eddie Jones

The miracle worker that is the Australian-Japanese rugby coach, Eddie Jones. For the first time, England have gone an entire calendar year not simply unbeaten, but victorious all the way.

Thirteen wins on the bounce. More startling still when you consider that prior to his reign, England didn’t even make it out the pool stage of the preceding World Cup. An impressive turnaround indeed.

I listened again to his appearance back in the Summer on View From The Boundary. Test Match Special‘s lunch break interview slot.

Despite the inexperienced interviewer, a number of prime Eddie-isms thankfully flowed forth. So here’s a quick précis;

Personality

Eddie quoted Italy football World Cup winning coach, Marcello Lippi. ‘Your job is to put your personality into the team whilst at the same time you don’t annul individual’s personality’.

Which he summed up, ‘you want them to think about it the way you do, but at the same time they can express themselves’.

Identity

He was hot on the fact you need to find your own identity as a team. For his current charges, he wished to instill that ‘we’re going to do it the English way’.

He reckoned England are good at some things, not so good at others. His aim is to build on what they do well and can be proud of, and bring new ideas to the rest.

Training

He likes training to be as intense as the actual game. “Drive people hard”. He cited football pioneer Pep Guardiola. Practice is a serious pursuit, not the happy-go-lucky downtime jolly it’s too often seen as. He often added to this recurring theme;

  • Get people to discover which way they must do something, without necessarily being told, and make them part of the learning process.
  • Say the same things over and over but said in slightly different ways, learning all the while.
  • A head coach’s job is not to teach how to play the sport but how to play as a team
  • Let everyone understand their different roles and what they must do to make the team win
  • Don’t be worried about just getting through the day, think about how you’re going to get better and how to help people overall get better

Glue

Playing for the team, there are people who act as a kind of ‘glue’. As part of leadership teams too, if not the stated leader themselves. These are people who slot in and form a backbone of the outfit in an unflashy way. Although some glues are louder or more fluorescent than others(!).

A concept of “followership” was cited here by the questioner.

Base Upwards

If instructions to begin with feel too extravagant, not fitting in with where you head off out from, nothing will work. Start by giving something concrete and then add layers to it. Begin with the base. Then add new abilities around that central identity.

Romantics

“Romantics don’t last long”. You win first then develop a team. To work out how to win is the only start.

Eddie believes the longest you can do the same thing for is three weeks. Then you must change something. In a way that players’ significantly understand you’re doing something different whilst sticking to and building on the existing principles.

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