HUMILITY is the hallmark of character that says that the best leaders — those with character — are never too big to sweep the sheds. That is, to get down and get the fingernails dirty in the grime of the work at hand.
At the root of the All Black learning culture is the Māori way of doing things — to never be too big to do the little things, and to do those little things with a high degree of purpose.
“Humility is deeply ingrained in the Māori and broader Polynesian culture,” and this is equivalent to Māori mana, which is “great personal prestige and character.”
There is such deep personal respect for the ancestor in Māori culture. It’s as if each All Black walks out from the Shed onto the Park to play, to respect the Jersey, to improve their play, to leave the Jersey in a better place. And that commitment of character, bound up in the All Black culture, is not just about on-field success. The All Black is a steward of the massively steeped history of the All Black tradition.
The commitment of character required of an All Black compels a questioning culture. No one leader has all the answers, but the best leaders learn to question in such ways as to involve those at ground level — to inspire them to help. And this helping is all about cutting away unhelpful beliefs, but not through instructing, but through guiding. It’s all in how questions are asked that draw out the deeper wisdom in those involved at the coal face. Those at the coal face have the best answers. Leaders are best positioned to ask questions that reveal the answers that are dormant beneath.
So the best leaders don’t have the answers; they ask the best questions. They drive excellence through innate curiosity.
And what is most intrinsic about the quality of the All Black is their personal discipline, the foundation of humility to commends them to sweep out their shed; to simply clean up after themselves. Their pride is their dignity to do what must be done. They let no one do what they alone should do.
For the All Black, their resolve is dug down into the fissures of their strength; a stoic humility that leaves no stone unturned in the quest for personal and team excellence.
Legacy is about character that leaves its indelible mark on those we exist with.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.
This article commences a series on the James Kerr book, Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About the Business of Life. I know for a fact that this book is being distributed among the sporting elite to give them an edge on leadership and culture. Its wisdom is gold.