I am a big fan of the High Performance podcasts which are hosted by Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes, we regularly listen to them in our weekly group learning. It is great to gain access and insight in to the mindset and motivations of some of the most successful business and sports people of all time. This week I listened to Dan Carter - considered to be one of the best rugby players to have played the game, and an integral part of the successful New Zealand All Blacks team.

As is so often the case with successful sports people there are many pointers that can be taken and applied to the world of work. Two things often come through are having a purpose and the importance of culture. In our careers, there are so many instances where individual performance is scrutinised - which is of course important. We all need to feel valued, we should have a goal and we should be measured and encouraged to reach this, but as Dan says, the group or team purpose and identity has to be strong as well.

He says something which had an impact, which was that the All Blacks play with the mentality of being custodians for the team - mindful at all times that there is a history before them. They are there for a moment and they have a future to protect for the next generation. But they all have the same goal, they recognise individual talent and brilliance but they work together.

They maintain a healthy culture by keeping each other in check, no one is bigger than the team or the purpose.

It is something that can be applied in a work culture, ok so you might not be competing for a trophy on the world stage in front of millions of people... but this way of thinking can be adapted. Imagine if you could build an environment that gave the individual purpose and ensured that you continue to bring the right people in to the team.

Yes we all have our individual targets that we need to reach, but that is made so much easier if the mentality is about the bigger picture. If the culture is right, and you are working with people that share the same values - the success could be more attainable and more sustainable.

Some things you could be doing with your colleagues, or your team to build a culture like this;

  • Take the time to understand each individuals purpose - and reflect this in a growth plan, build in targets and accountability to reach this purpose
  • Have shared goals for the team - discuss and revisit them on a regular basis
  • Have shared standards, what do you each expect of one another, what are the "non negotiables" and what will you all do to support each other in getting achieving and sticking to these?

Once this is established, you can use it to encourage continued development and growth, and you can use it to build a culture which leads the discussion when looking for new people for the team.

This podcast is a great place to gain some inspiration, I highly recommend it.