In a former life, I was an international rugby referee. This gave me a glimpse into aspects of high performance from a close but neutral perspective. As I think back on some of the champion sides  that I refereed a few distinctive qualities stand out:

Play right at the Edge.

Great sides were difficult to referee as they pushed the edges. This on reflection seemed to be a conscious choice they made. In constructing responses out of the more chaotic parts of the game they operated at the edge of the rules and the edge of what was expected.

They were constantly challenging the more predictable approaches, and also challenging the referee. However, they were not foolish to ignore the rules and commit the obvious infringements.  They did realize that it is often at the edges that breakthroughs can be best rewarded. Whilst structure was critical so was the unexpected.

Execution Presence – An Intensity to Task

The ok teams had lots of structure.  I remember the deliberate and well constructed and over-rehearsed plays that did reap a reward from time to time but did not sustain greatness.  Consistent high performance required a higher intensity and a knowledge of how to adjust the speed of execution at critical moments – often faster however sometimes slower. This is the type of game sense that can only come through high-intensity rehearsal. These great teams possessed what I am calling “execution presence”. This is related to however different to physical presence. It is a sharpness, flexibility, a boldness.  And being intensely present to what is happening in the foreground and to adapt to it in an instant.

Business performance can mirror these lessons from a team sport. I invite you to consider:

  • What words would you use to describe your teams “execution presence”. How do you need this to change?
  • What are 2 or 3 “edges” in your business where there is a rich opportunity? How might you position the right people and approach to explore these opportunities?


4 thoughts on “High Performance: Part 2

  1. Hello there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter
    group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate
    your content. Please llet me know. Thank you

  2. Peter O'Connor

    Dear Mark,

    Thank you for sending me this . Your days in rugby have played out well in your observations above.
    Where are you now?




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