In a rugby team, where does the leadership come from? Before you say ‘that’s obvious’, just stop and think for a moment.
Is it the coach who has overall responsibility for team selection and setting tactics? Is it the performance coaches who may set the agenda for kicking or scrummaging or other aspects of the game? Perhaps it’s the captain who leads the way in making ‘in game’ decisions? Or maybe it’s the individual players who bring their own talents to ‘making the play.’
Watch any game at the Rugby World Cup and it soon becomes clear that decision-making and empowerment ebb and flow across the entire team as the game dictates. Yes there may be set plays but there are also times when the individual has to use their own judgement and talent to create opportunity. Yes the captain may decide what action to take when awarded a penalty but when a potential kick for three points is anything other than straightforward he will rely on the judgement of the kicker.
This idea of empowered leadership; of having a game plan and a structure within which people are free to use their own talents, abilities and judgement to create results is a lesson which could easily translate into the business sphere. True teamwork is not about everyone being the same or acting the same. True teamwork happens when the leaders create the conditions which enable everyone to give their best towards a common goal. And the best leaders know that true leadership can, and should, come from anywhere within the organisation as changing circumstances require different talents to come to the fore.