We asked ex-Rugby player & coach turned management consultant Bevan Gray a few questions ahead of his talk at RHUB EDGE
Q1) What parallels have you found between the elite rugby environments you once played and coached in relative to the business landscape you now work in as a Leadership & Talent Management Consultant?
Competition. Although many of the skills necessary for success as an athlete are very different from those required for success in business, I think each operate in a highly competitive environment. They also share the relative pressure associated with this competition. I have seen how extreme competition and pressure can drive very counterproductive behaviours in both of these settings so I think they also share the need for strong leaders. Leaders capable of building cultures focused on team outcomes rather than the goals and agendas of individuals.
I have seen how extreme competition and pressure can drive very counterproductive behaviours
Q2) So why is building the right culture so important, yet so difficult to foster?
If a team culture does not foster behaviours aligned with achieving their “big picture” goals, they will never reach their performance potential and any success they do experience is likely to be short lived. I think culture is so important because it is a source of sustainable competitive advantage. The reason it is so difficult is because it involves people!
Q3) What are the most valuable things you learnt during your career as a rugby player which assisted you with a successful career transition into Executive Recruitment and Leadership Development Consulting?
From my time as a rugby player I quickly developed a continuous improvement mindset. I have always been very achievement orientated so I naturally set myself lofty goals and then planned out my road map for achieving these. Along the way I would routinely self-assess my performances and also actively seek developmental feedback from coaches and team mates. I now take the same approach as a Leadership Consultant and I believe this has helped me a lot with making a relatively smooth transition.
Perhaps the biggest learning for me as a rugby player was developing my resilience. Although I was a really fast runner, I was bloody skinny when I played so when I got hit it usually left a mark. Playing rugby taught me to face my fears, get back up and keep going. The physical side was really the easy stuff, the mental toughness required to deal with pressure and remain focused and positive is really the most valuable skill I developed from my time playing rugby. This has assisted me greatly in my work as a Leadership Consultant and in most other areas of my life too.
Bevan currently works for Korn Ferry Hay Group and will speak about leadership at RHUB EDGE on 27 April in Auckland.