It is September 2023 and as I write we are in the middle of the Rugby Union World Cup, this year being played in France.The pundits and commentators are out in force and the pre-competition ‘warm-up’ games attracted much attention.
The England team came in for much criticism over this period.Reading a post-warm-up-match article in The Times newspaper one morning – after England had suffered a big defeat – spurred me into action.
Having been a student of the way teams and individuals deal with change and uncertainty throughout my career, I was struck by the parallels between the style of team leadership as described in the article and that suggested by the science of complex adaptive systems.
Rugby Union has its rules – many more recent impositions being quite contentious – but it nonetheless presents players and coaches alike with a constantly shifting and unpredictable situation. It is nothing if not complex!
The article complained about the apparently rigid style of leadership from the coaches and how it potentially constrained the talent in the team. Teams and individual players need the right degree of freedom to adapt and I believe the science surrounding the way complex systems adapt has something hugely relevant to say about leadership in such situations.
Here is my short article …