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5 Lessons every Organisation can take from the Springboks victory

70 000 people in the Yokohama Stadium, Japan, rose to their feet in rapturous applause as Siya Kolisi lifted the Webb Ellis trophy of the Rugby World Cup 2019 on Saturday, November 2. The crowd and millions of viewers around the world were celebrating a magnificent performance from the Springboks vs England match. It is easy to get swept up in the emotion of the Boks winning Rugby’s premier prize for the third time, but South African rugby’s first African Captain underlined the significance of the victory with a poignant remark:

“We face a lot of challenges at home. We have so many problems in South Africa,” he said, “but we came together with one goal. It shows that we must pull together if we want to win something.”

It was a telling statement from the Captain of the most diverse squad in the 2019 RWC,

from different cultures, races, backgrounds and social statuses. The Captain himself spoke of growing up in an impoverished Port Elizabeth township and going some days without food to eat.

Even Francois Pienaar, the Captain of South Africa’s 1995 winning squad, immortalized in the movie ‘Invictus’ said that this victory is bigger than 1995. "It is a transformed team with 58 million people watching in South Africa, all races wearing green, which wouldn't have happened in my time."

Added to that is the pressure the team carried of the hope of a nation that was living on a daily basis with societal challenges and sorely in need of some positive news.

If we used an image of an iceberg to describe the state of our Nation (South Africa) at a high level, it would look something like the diagram below:

So, the million-dollar question is, what did they do right that enabled them to achieve this incredible result of lifting the Rugby World Cup 2019 against impossible odds? It is remarkable that they are the first team to do so after losing a group stage match.

After a careful study of their performance throughout the tournament and their preparation before it, We have identified 5 Notable Characteristics & Key Lessons that have led to their success:

1: A Mindset bigger than themselves: From Day 1 of their preparation, the coach Rassie Erasmus, entrenched in his players that the results they achieve are not for themselves as individuals or a team, but for the entire Nation. They built a belief system with a “tomorrow mindset” that they can achieve the desired success amidst our current challenges.

The lesson we can take from this is that we have to adopt an inside-out approach.

This involves us getting our internal goals, processes, and governance working effectively and efficiently. This will enable us to create external growth and impact as a nation. It cascades into building a collaborative mindset between the Private Sector and Government.

2: One Unified Goal: They held one single Goal, and that was to win the World Cup. They rallied the entire team around the call of One Team with One Purpose.

The lesson here is that every Organisation, whether in the Private or Public Sector, should have a single focus for transforming South Africa into an Economic Powerhouse. The focus for each of us should be on building a robust and ethical institutional structure to enable economic transformation at both an Organisational and National level.

3: They aligned between the “I,” “We” and “Us” space. The “I” space represented their own individual space as a player in the team. They took accountability for their roles and set their mindset to ensure that every choice and action they took was in support of their goal.

The “We” space represented their space as a collective unit – as One Team with One Purpose. They sat above issues that affect our prejudices on a daily basis in our country.

The “Us” space represented their space within the Nation. They focused on winning for the nation, knowing that the result will have a positive impact on this country.

The lesson here is in identifying our different spaces. The Springboks made an exceptional transformation in just over a year. Last year they were ranked 6th in the world with not much hope of winning in the World Cup, today they are ranked number one. Last year the players, coaches, and the stakeholders all sat on separate mountains holding different views, perspectives, and paradigms. Once they aligned on a single goal, people came down from their mountains and started to work together from a position of common ground.

4: Robust Governance. On a daily basis, they ensured that they constantly monitor and evaluate their performances. When the results were not in line with their plans, they re-mobilized and re-energized the team to get back on track towards the achievement of the ultimate goal.

The lesson learned is to ensure that we maintain timeous, robust monitoring, and evaluation framework against our plans.

5: Humility. From the Head Coach to the Captain to each player, they achieved their results with great humility. Gone is the era of egomania. They acknowledged the people of South Africa for their support and well wishes. They did not just bask in their own glory.

The lesson here is that in order to build a high performing culture to achieve results you must acknowledge the contribution of your people.

In this way the results you achieve as an Organisation will contribute towards building our nation.

We believe that these five guiding principles mentioned above can help us to improve our own organizations and our nation. By taking on board these lessons we can surely take great leaps and bounds, as the Springboks, and in as little as five years claim economic victory as a country. #springboks #rwc2019 #visionactiv

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