Austin Healey played rugby union for Leicester Tigers, England and the British Lions – and starred in Strictly Come Dancing. Speaking at Entrepreneur Country Accelerate Forum, he revealed his lessons on leadership
Leaders build teamwork
When I played for England, our vision was all about thinking about the guy next to you. When I suffered from post-natal depression following the birth of my daughter, for example, my teammates were there for me.
If you are in a team, effective leadership can allow you to build confidence together. At Leicester, when we were on a losing streak, we put our arms round each other, closed off the outside world and got back to basics.
Teamwork builds trust. At our best, we could be getting kicked in the head in a ruck during a tough match, and we knew someone would be there behind us to back us up.
Leaders create a brand
At my club, Leicester, we were all about living the brand. It was about more than just pulling on a shirt.
Our coach, Dean Richards made sure that no bad news ever left our training field, so we could be completely honest with each other. This meant that no-one ever knew any of our internal problems –- the outside world thought we were the tightest unit imaginable, so the opposition was often beaten before they turned up at our ground.
Once, when Leicester won the championship, we went straight to the bar and started celebrating with the supporters, rather than going to the official function that had been laid on for us. That was our brand – great friendships, everyone in it together.
Leaders forge a culture
With Leicester, the leaders created a culture that people aspired too. England did this too – if someone was dropped, they weren’t able to stay at the hotel. Other players told me that getting dropped was a horrible experience (thankfully I never got dropped myself!)
At Leicester and England, our culture dictated that winning was the only thing. Just before my 30th birthday, we lost for the first time in three years at (Leicester’s home ground) Welford Road. My wife wanted me to go out, but I wouldn’t go out – that was all due to our wining-is-everything culture. (She eventually forced me to go to my own surprise birthday party, where I ended up dressed as a woman!)