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Secrets from the Six Nations

>Secrets from the Six Nations
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Category: Leadership Speaker
Published: 21st January 2018

With the Six Nations now well under way, we are looking at what can be learnt from the rugby greats that have swapped their muddy boots for business.

Many people don’t realise the tools and techniques used in rugby and training can be applied to the business setting. Following on from our Speaker Showcase with James Kerr on The Secret of Successful Teams, this latest post looks at how rugby parallels with business.


As business consultant James Kerr says, leaders don’t create followers; they create leaders. Leaders create a learning environment in which people can improve and get better every day, they are invaluable in a team, whether that be on the field or in the boardroom. They are honest with a trusting character, able to communicate goals and plans to the rest of the team, and have the vision to break the norm and know how to get there.

Teamwork and High Performing Teams


Sir Clive Woodward says teamship is the collective standard of behaviour understood by everyone in the team environment, everyone in the team must adopt the same mind frame and must understand that their every action has a reaction both on and off the pitch. Accept this, and players and teams will find a freedom that can only be born out of joint responsibility. Ignore this most basic of sporting philosophies, and you have to be prepared to pay the ultimate price. For a team, this is defeat, and for an individual, it is exclusion from the squad. This is the same for business, without this collective responsibility failure is extremely likely – even one member can bring down the whole team.

Attitude is Everything

This links back to teamwork and the collective mindset of the team, the team must adopt the same attitude. Athletes have a certain mindset, and it has to be a positive one! The psychological development of a player is extremely important, and it links back to the attitude we have towards business and in the workplace, with parallels between preparing for a big game on the pitch and preparing for a big pitch in the boardroom.

Working and Performing Under Pressure

Of course, all sportsmen and women feel a huge amount of pressure, but we all feel the pressure to perform in the workplace, too. It’s about taking that pressure and using it to help you perform better. Making the right decisions in tight situations, close to your own line and under pressure can be crucial to your team’s success. The first receiver in these situations needs to be calm and know that the players around him will do their jobs. It’s the same in business, as long as the team members know their roles and they are comfortable in executing it they are a lot less likely to panic and make mistakes.

Constant Improvement

In sport, constant improvement is vital. We’ve all heard the piece on marginal gains, making constant small changes that lead to overall improvement. This is the same

for business, we must innovate and disrupt the market to stay ahead of our competitors. Businesses that don’t consistently evolve are doomed to fall behind and become history. We must stay ahead of the curve, making use of innovative technology and learning from the thought leaders of the world.



If you’re looking for a speaker with a background in rugby we have handpicked some of the best after dinner and keynote speakers on the circuit


A wonderful rugby speaker, Neil has a host of anecdotal tales he can deliver during talks, giving audience members an insight into what it was like to be the best in the world.




Ben Cohen MBE is a former professional rugby player and motivational speaker who now spends much of his time as an LGBT activist, setting up the StandUp Foundation helping to combat bullying and homophobia.




Maggie Alphonsi is the face of international women’s rugby. Awarded an MBE in 2012, she is arguably one of the most well-known names in women’s team sports on the planet.





As well as his principal role as BBC’s face of rugby, John Inverdale has covered almost all the major sporting events for television and radio.




To see more of our rugby speakers please click here, and for our full list of speakers and subject matter experts please click here. Or why not give our dedicated team a call on 02031377353 or email


1. Ottawa80 at English Wikipedia [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
2. By x-oph (Flickr: Rugby: Poland-Belgium 14:3 (5:0)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons