Rugby Response

Sep 29, 2023

This week’s bulletin has been written by our tutor, James McAlister, who discusses the similarities between a rugby team and business continuity response teams.

The Rugby Union World Cup is currently underway in France and what a fantastic spectacle it offers to be. But what makes the difference between twenty-three individuals and the best teams when the chips are down?

Most of my professional life has been spent building response teams, either whilst as the team leader of police specialist firearms teams, or latterly with private sector clients. You might think that those two environments and the people who operate in them have nothing in common, but what I have found is that they are just the same. The only difference is the event context and the peoples’ everyday occupational skill sets. When training crisis or incident response teams, I regularly draw on the experiences of the great sports team philosophies and their exceptional leaders.

The start of any team begins with the selection of its members. Those members must have two essential qualities summed up in an equation used by the New Zealand All Blacks coaches that state: Performance = Capability + Behaviour.

No matter how capable your team are, without the right attitude, it just won’t work. The Springboks from South Africa talk about the desire to want to be a team member, and in my new environment, this is a constant headache with team members often being there because they are told to be there. Converting disbelievers into effective team members takes time but is all about connecting personal meaning to a higher purpose, in this case the crisis or incident, which leads to belief and a sense of direction.

The impact of a ‘leader’ in the early stages of team development or an incident cannot be underestimated. The Psychologist Bruce Tuckman identified that the leader must move through various activities over time, including: directing, coaching, enabling and eventually in the Performing Stage, to delegating and overseeing.

Sir Clive Woodward, the ex-England coach, adds to the leadership responsibilities by saying that great leaders do not create followers they create more leaders. This is achieved within the team by passing on responsibility, creating ownership, accountability and trust. The All Blacks call this ‘Pass the Ball’, where under pressure, team members step up and take responsibility, which is truly effective in times of uncertainty and crisis.

And the way to bring all these concepts together is by PRACTICE. Muhammad Ali wrote ‘fights are won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym and out on the road, well before I dance under the lights’. In business, training is often seen as a distraction, limited to an occasional away-day or mandatory PowerPoint presentation. However, effective response training should be realistic, regular, repetitious and intensive.

BC Training offers a suite of tried and tested courses to help turn your companies ‘individuals’ into effective response team members. Why not get in touch to see how we can help.

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