England are out of the rugby World Cup. The right players, the right tactics, the right manager – all are under intense scrutiny right now. However, one aspect has yet to come under the same spotlight – the talent the manager (whoever they are) has available. This has nothing to do with whether the England manager can pick players based overseas. This has everything to do with the culture within England Rugby and how it develops its talent at grass roots level.
In this there are some striking similarities with the FA (Football Association) and the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association). All 3 federations are among, if not the richest federations in their sport. However, all are singularly unable to consistently develop a depth of talented individuals.
Twenty years ago, UK Athletics found themselves in a similar position. In 1996 UK track and field athletes failed to win a single gold medal and produced its worst overall result since 1952. Faced with these disastrous results, a complete overhaul of the federation took place. From this low point a new plan took shape that contained four key elements:
- A clear vision
- An infrastructure focused on delivering high performance
- Transformational leadership
- Highly capable coaches
The results of this new approach in the sport are clear. UK Athletics improved its performance at the Olympic and World games beyond recognition. In contrast Football, Rugby and Tennis have failed to deliver. Despite the finances available to them, these governing bodies have not taken on board their most pressing issue – lack of talent.
England Rugby has more registered players than the rest of the Home Countries put together and the RFU’s income is exceeds that of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa combined. In football, Germany has five times as many and Spain 10 times as many Uefa ‘A’ level coaches as the FA. In tennis, Spain has 1,500 fewer clubs and a quarter of the courts than England, but has over 1,500 more coaches (over eight times as many). France has probably the best club system in the tennis world, 30% more courts and three times the number of coaches – over 7,000 more.
Simply put, although England Rugby/Football/Tennis have the financial resources, they don’t deliver the performances at the highest level that other countries do. What’s missing I believe, is the vision, leadership, infrastructure and coaches all aligned to develop, manage and promote the talent that no doubt exists at grass roots level.
Within most organisations, the same level of finance is rarely available to identify, develop and promote talent, yet the same principles apply. There is a pool of talent both inside and outside your organisation. The question is, does your organisation have in place the vision, transformational leadership, infrastructure and coaching to capitalise on this opportunity?
Give Your Organisation a Sporting Chance
The Emenex extraMILE model and framework emphasises the organisational requirements that are highlighted by the issues I’ve raised here. It is the organisational leaders’ responsibility to set the vision and organisational priorities and build the infrastructure to align development and performance with those priorities. With those cultural elements in place, developing leaders who can support and empower their teams using coaching to nurture and maintain high performance, offers the organisation a sporting chance of reaching the pinnacle.
Many development programmes fail because they are not integrated or embedded within the vision and strategic priorities of the organisation. They offer knowledge, or focus on administering a performance management process, rather than supporting and developing high performing team members.
There is a wealth of talent in your organisation crying to be let out. The danger is if this talent isn’t recognised and developed, they will mentally check out, or get out completely. Develop an inclusive, development culture, or you could find yourself, like England – out of contention.