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It’s the vision thing that drives you on

As the leader of a project like this, says Michael, you can’t ever sit down. You have to provide the energy that keeps everyone going. ‘If you do sit down, the film does too. At all times, it’s the vision thing that drives you on, compels you to keep trying, to achieve the impossible.’

Does all of this sound familiar? Is it reminiscent of the challenge you face in leading your own team? Have you yet found a way to create a vision that inspires the creativity, commitment and determination of your own team, and keeps you going when times are tough?

Hold this thought for a moment. I want to tell you the story of my interview with Clive Woodward, a former English rugby union player, the head coach of the 2003 Rugby World Cup winning side, and later a director of sport for the British Olympic Association during the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The 2003 Rugby World Cup was played in Sydney, Australia. England played Australia in the final. Fly-half Jonny Wilkinson kicked a drop goal in extra time to win the game 20–17 for England, who became the first Northern Hemisphere team to win the Webb Ellis Cup and become world champions.

During my interview, I asked Clive whether he had given his World Cup winning team an inspirational speech on the night before the big match. ‘No,’ he said:

‘You simply didn’t need to at that stage. The focus was on ensuring that every individual did their job. I told them that if every individual did their own job properly, understood what everybody else was doing, trusted them to do it, shared the passion of a common purpose and did their job better than their opponents in the other team, then we would win the match. It was that short and it was that simple.’

So, two stories and two observations: the critical importance of the vision, and the importance of people knowing their job and how it contributes to the vision – and then working as a team to achieve it.

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