Resilience, trust key to strong culture

|| September 10, 2019

By Darius Boyd

Brisbane Broncos captain

This piece was written for the 55 comms website

How do you develop a successful culture?

It’s the thing that has most fascinated me in my rugby league career.

I’ve been playing in the NRL for 14 years and, the more I’ve learned, the more I’ve realised there is more to learn.

And I’ve had plenty of people tell me that they’re doing the same in their businesses.

I’ve been lucky to be among some very strong cultures in my career. They have helped me immensely and not just in my footy career.

But the things that worked well in developing successful cultures early in my career aren’t necessarily the best option now.

It feels like it’s changing quickly.

The last few months have made me think about culture more as we welcomed a new coach at the Broncos. It’s been among the most enjoyable periods of my career even though the results haven’t been what we’ve wanted. But we've made the NRL finals and we're ready to play.

The culture that we’re continuing to develop will enable future success. We have a culture that goes back decades. We didn't start from scratch in 2019. We’re adding to the culture that has always been in place here. It’s a privilege to play a role in that culture and to ensure that we’re continuing it on for the next generation.

Here’s what I’ve learned is now important for successful cultures – and I hope to keep learning about them:

Be approachable: What’s that got to do with a winning culture? It’s the most basic requirement. When I first started playing for the Broncos as a teenager, I sat in the corner and hoped that my teammates didn’t pay me too much attention. There was a hierarchy in change rooms – the older players had earned their stripes and the younger ones had a long way to go to earn theirs. That wasn’t something specific to the Broncos – it was the way the sport operated across clubs.

That’s not the case any more. The young generation has changed now. As senior players, we should be interacting with the younger players – learn something about them and use it to connect. When Tommy Dearden joined us at the Broncos, he was still 17 years old. But I heard that he went to the same school as me – he wasn’t even at kindy when I graduated so he didn’t see me around the playground. But that school is something that we have been able to talk about, something that shows we have things in common even though our ages aren’t so close. And it’s helped him to feel as though he’s welcome at the Broncos and to become an important part of what we do here.

Set standards: This one is non-negotiable. You must set standards and you must meet them as a team. We like to put it this way – if one team member doesn’t meet the standards, then we can’t perform to our best. But the commitment to standards makes a result possible.

Be resilient: We know that the perfect game doesn’t exist. Just like in life, things don’t always go to plan. That’s when you have to be resilient. This is when your leaders must lead. Stick to your processes and be positive. If your processes are right, it doesn’t take long to turn things around. You have to keep believing.

Trust: This is critical. In the good teams that I’ve played in, you never have to worry about the other person doing their job. You know that they will do it well. And, if they do it well, then everyone else can do the job that they need to do. If someone doesn’t do their job well, then the jobs of other people become harder. Trust is central to all of this. In world sport, the All Blacks and the New England Patriots are the best examples of systems in which everyone knows their role and does it well. They’re not afraid to part ways with a big name if that person isn’t doing their job in the way that the team needs it done. Their culture is larger than any individual.

Know your role: We all have a job to do whether that be in a football team or in any business. Understand how your role works within the wider organisation. Basically, that means you have to get an understanding of things outside you. Getting your job done and done well is vital but so is learning about others and understanding what they do. When you understand the bigger picture, you can better define your role.