Leadership. It’s one word, but it tells a big story. It’s a tale of one person’s effect on many people, be it a small group, a team, a nation. Too often people mistake leaders and managers as being from the same stock. They are not. They’re not even close. Only leaders inspire success. Only leaders drive things forward.
Sport is an obvious arena in which to find good leaders because leadership is a natural requirement of the game. The Sydney Morning Herald ran an interesting analysis of the key attributes on display in Australian captains. Different people lead in different ways but the characteristics that stand out are charisma, strength, loyalty, passion and pride. Jump across the Tasman and those attributes can be found in New Zealand’s sporting heroes.
Richie McCaw: Calm, confident, assured. A leader by example. Powerful and clinical on the field, he has more than just his teammates’ trust, he has the nation’s. No captain has a higher winning percentage than McCaw does in the history of the game.
Brendan McCullum: Exciting, passionate and driven. McCullum is super-competitive. He sets out to disprove critics and inspires his teammates to believe in the impossible. He’s not satisfied with just competing, he wants to win and his confidence is rubbing off on the country.
Ryan Nelson: The team man. Respected and admired on and off the pitch. He put everyone else’s needs before his own – whether it was for Blackburn, Tottenham or the All Whites. His legacy isn’t just as a player, it’s as an individual.
Simon Mannering: A no-frills leader. Mannering is the engine room of New Zealand rugby league. Physically strong and durable, he does the dirty work so that others can shine, all while exuding modesty and calm.
Dean Barker: The master tactician. Yachting is a technical sport and Barker has earned his stripes by putting in the hard yards and learning to trust his instinct. He is all about precision. Getting his team running smoothly. Practice, practice, practice. It’s his key to success.