Posts Tagged ‘Conor O’Shea’

The Power of Leaders telling the Truth

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

As previously admitted, I’m a Quins fan and I spent a miserable afternoon this Sunday shivering on a touchline in freezing temperatures to watch my team play a dreadful game against their most dangerous rivals.  Saracens had just nudged us off top place in the league and we needed to to beat them in order to reclaim the slot we have held for the best part of two seasons.  This was our first game in their brand new stadium and it was clear from the start they were really up for it.  They seemed sharper, faster, and more dangerous.  Even though at at halftime we were still in the game in wasn’t long before we gave away a try and you knew that the game was as good as over.  In a single game we went from being shoe-ins for a top two place and a home semi-final to wondering whether we’d make the play-offs!

So why is any of this relevant to a non-rugby fan?  I was fascinated to hear what their coach had to say after the game.  We are so used to people putting a brave face of failure or trying to somehow mitigate its impact by talking about the things that went well, or perhaps explaining why someone/something else was really at fault.  In this video, he simply and powerfully tells the truth.  His comments are balanced, neutral and honest.  He doesn’t seek to reduce the consequences of failure or slump into doom and gloom.  He just says that we let ourselves down and now have a much harder task getting where we want to get to.  I’ll be fascinated to see how the team respond in their must win fixture against Gloucester on Friday.  I’ll also be interested to see who he picks, the ‘junior’ players who in the weeks before won us the LV cup or the legends who have won so many international caps.

If more leaders told the truth to their people in simple, clear language I think we might see much better performances.  Conor’s bywords are “Stick to our processes and procedures and the results will look after themselves”.  As a club, Harlequins know what brand of rugby they want to play and you can see everyone in all the squads playing the same way.  This is where values and culture really pay-off, when they are clear, strong and shared.  Everyone there know what ‘good’ looks like.  It is a real lesson for the corporate world where so often they are just words on a poster or in a staff handbook.

“If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:”  Rudyard Kipling