The Rugby World Cup 2019 has come to Japan with a force, inspiring the nation with a fervent pride in our team, who claimed a stunning victory over Ireland on Saturday. Like many of my compatriots, I have been swept up in the excitement of cheering for our team and having our country play host to the competition, which kicked off 20 September and finishes 2 November.
I recently sat down with Katsuyuki Kiyomiya, Vice President of Japan Rugby Football Union and a former notable rugby union coach, who is tasked with leading the transformation to create a professional rugby league in Japan.
The Rugby World Cup 2019 has revealed to Japan that rugby, too often a forgotten sport, could have a place in the country’s professional leagues and could regain its popularity with youth. Beyond the excitement on the pitch, it has also revealed that the sport offers important lessons for success.
Here are three lessons leaders can learn from rugby.
1. Embrace transformation
The sport of rugby requires constant and fluid agility and decision-making. Compared to other sports, where the coach makes a call each play, the role of the rugby coach is to bring the team to the point where they can adapt and make decisions on the field for themselves.
This leadership style embraces the need for transformation, which is becoming increasingly important. As the world experiences the rapid changes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, globalization and geopolitical instability, corporate longevity is rapidly declining, meaning leaders must embrace continuous adaptation to stay relevant and competitive.
2. Communicate clearly
No rugby team would be successful without constant and clear communication. Teams must know and trust that they have each other’s backs. This requires teammates to articulate next steps and maintain a constant stream of dialogue.
Communication skills are also an important requirement to be an effective leader today. Leaders must be able to articulate their mission and the path to achieve it, maintaining open and honest discussions with their teams.
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3. Learn from diversity
In a rugby team, it’s important to bring together diverse talents. Embracing diversity helps create a team where each individual brings unique skillsets that contribute to the strength of the team as a whole.
In business, this translates to a willingness to expand your network, welcome outside voices and learn from a range of points of views. Magic can happen when you interact with people from different backgrounds and expertise.
Once the Rugby World Cup 2019 is over, my hope is that people in Japan maintain their newfound love of my favourite sport and that we all work together to apply rugby’s lessons to our work and lives.