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Speaker Q&A

Nurture Change and Sir Graham Henry: Lead from the top and capture team spirit

In my opinion Sir Graham Henry is the most successful rugby coach of all time. His success and learnings on and off the field around team culture have shaped New Zealand.

A few years ago, Graham spoke at our inaugural Nurture Change, he was such a hit that he will be back at Nurture Change this year by popular demand. Sir Graham shares some of his wisdom here.

What has been your biggest learning in business to date and why?
That I needed to change leadership style from 'coach driven' to 'team driven' during my time with Wales and the Lions in 2001.

People don't respond well to an authoritarian coach, telling them what to do. They do better when they're given the tools they need and then empowered to do what they need to do. It took me 30 years to realise that I needed to change from an authoritarian, tell-them-what-to-do coach to a consensus coach; from a "me-and-them" culture to an "us" culture.

What do you think are the top qualities that every business owner needs?
Passion, know the game, and develop your people. Give people opportunities to get involved in activities they enjoy and have ability in.

I learned a lot from Sir John Graham (DJ), who was headmaster of Auckland Grammar, All Black captain, NZ cricket team manager, president of the NZ Rugby Union and won the Halberg Leadership Award. I found him to be a quality leader with an innate ability to develop other people. During DJ's time as headmaster at Auckland Grammar, numerous teachers went on to be secondary school principals and leaders in education.

How would your team describe your leadership style?
Consensus without losing accountability. After 2007's failed world cup campaign, one of the reasons why we got rehired was because our players wanted us back as a management team. It's something you have to ask yourself as a leader: if they had a choice, would your team choose you to lead them?

Do you have any tips on how you can future-proof your business?
Better never stops. You need to have a growth mindset to be successful, as opposed to a fixed mindset. A growth mindset means you learn from setbacks or difficult times. With a fixed mindset you withdraw or feel incapable. From what I've seen, successful people and companies focus on constant improvement through executing well each day. I learned a lot from working with Gilbert Enoka at the All Blacks. He ensured the team and individuals were always looking forward, with a solution-focused mentality based on humility – remembering that we are not the finished product.

How do you look after your health and wellbeing?
Exercise most days - usually it's a run to clear my head and get the blood pumping, and plenty of ribena - those of you who went to Nurture Change in 2015 will know what I'm talking about!

What are you most excited about in attending the Nurture Change Business Retreat in Fiji?

Meeting positive people. I've met some great people through Nurture Change, people that have become good friends. I'm looking forward to learning from other people's experiences. I'm always interested in continuing the learning process. I believe you should never stop learning – it's stimulating!

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