Bar, line, speak

LBO Jan 2017

I enjoy watching a big rugby match. They can be great occasions and spectacular sporting battles.  My difficulty is that I don’t fully understand the intricacies of the game or all of its complex rules or at least the way they are sometimes applied.  It is a highly technical game and it seems as though it is not just me but also players and commentators who struggle to understand how certain decisions are made by referees.

One aspect I really like though are the interviews with some of the rugby coaches. I enjoy the thinking and philosophy many bring to the game.

So I was intrigued to hear one coach pronounce, “The principles on the pitch are: bar, line, speak.” By this he meant that he wanted his players continually to do three things during a game.

First, look to the cross-bar ie look ahead. See where your opponents are.  This is what is confronting you – know it.

Second, look to the touch-lines ie look to both sides of you. See where your team-mates are.  This is what will help you – know it.

Third, communicate your decisions to your team-mates. Get on the same wavelength.

This sounds like a good recipe for areas of life other than rugby. Assess the challenge or problem that you are confronting.  Weigh up your starting position and the resources to hand.  Then decide how to proceed and work with others to put your plan into operation.

Whether we are working in a business, government department or a school there is undeniably a lot of management theory around and what one commentator has called “leadership babble”. The best leaders model the approach above ie keep it simple and make it memorable.

The essence of great leadership is rarely the “what” but more often the “how”. It comes through working with people and that is likely to be most successful when leaders are open and clear and work with integrity.  So out with the theory and in with values.  Not a bad starting point for a new year.





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