England Rugby have achieved an historic series win against Australia (yes, there’s more to sporting life than Euro 2016. The transformation from the woeful performances at the Rugby World Cup (RWC15) is stark.
With largely the same players, new coach Eddie Jones has built a world class team in less than six months.
So, what has he done that’s produced such a dramatic change in performance? There’ll be operational and tactical changes but from my perspective, it’s his approach to leadership and performance that we can learn from. He’s:
- chosen leaders who share his values and he can trust. Steve Borthwick worked alongside him with Japan serving up the shock of the RWC15. Paul Gustard (a fellow Saracen) came on board as defence coach to bring the wolfpack mentality from club to country. Both are leaders in their own right but crucially are aligned with Jones’ vision for the team and how to deliver it
- been brave. The appointment of bad boy Dylan Hartley as captain was met with bemusement in some quarters. But the team has won 8 out of 8 during his term. Equally, puzzling was the decision to leave, in form winger, Chris Ashton at home but Jones knew what he wanted for this team
- created a team not a group of stars. Owen Farrell has arguably been the stand out fly-half in the Premiership this year, but Jones prefers to play him at 12 alongside an (up until now) out of form George Ford at No. 10. The combination of the pairing has been more powerful than their individual roles
- been decisive. If it hasn’t worked, he’s made changes. Luther Burrell is a great player but he wasn’t playing the way Jones wanted, was impacting team performance, so was swiftly substituted
- found the right role for each team member to enabled them to be their best. During the Six Nations James Haskell was regarded as a ‘stop gap’ No. 7, in the first test he was ‘man of the match’. What’s changed? He was asked to play to his strengths, to be his best - in Haskell’s case to go around the field smashing people rather than passing the ball
- believed in his team. Sticking by George Ford and Chris Robshaw despite temporary blips in form and lack of confidence on the field. Both have responded and performance has improved
- taken a personal approach to motivation. Some are inspired by grand gestures like ‘The guy in the glass’ read by Gustard before the game. Others like Haskell prefer a hug
Lastly, hegave the team a clear focus and stretch goals he believed they could achieve, and that they all bought into. For England that was a 3-0 end to the tour. As Billy Vunipola said “we made that promise to each other and we can’t break it now”.
I’m sure Jones would be the first to say there’s still a lot to do but creating the right environment for everyone to flourish has brought winning ways.
Image adapted courtesy of Kerrie_