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Homepage / Business Book Review: ‘Legacy: What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life – 15 lessons in leadership’ by James Kerr

Business Book Review: ‘Legacy: What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life – 15 lessons in leadership’ by James Kerr


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Summarised by Keith Thompson[su_row][su_column size=”2/3″]


Business leaders and managers constantly seek how to create successful and high performing organisations. In his book, James Kerr draws upon the most successful team in history. He reveals the winning ways and secrets of the All Blacks, and how to tackle the day-to-day fundamental challenges and issues faced by leaders and teams. Some of the key topics covered are;

  • How do you create a high-performance culture?
  • How do you maintain world-class standards?
  • How do you handle and deal with pressure?
  • What is the secret of sustained success?
  • What do you leave behind when you are gone?
  • What is your legacy?
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Consisting of 15 chapters (no surprise there given the subject), the book details the journey, lessons learned and how they were embedded to achieve the incredible 86%-win-rate. Best-selling author and storyteller, Kerr’s knowledge was acquired in June 2010 when he was embedded inside the All Blacks setup as they prepared for the World Cup.

It is very easy to read in a day or over the weekend, highlighting the exceptional culture and legacy of the team. The book contains stories and anecdotes, not only from those involved with the All Black success, but some of the most successful coaches and people involved in sport. The title, Legacy, supports the way the All Blacks have focused on a long-term, successful cultural legacy and how current team members are custodians of the highly prized black jersey for the Next Generation.

The summary on the back of the book really emphasizes the key themes of the book:

 “Champions do extra. They sweep the sheds. They follow the spearhead. They keep a blue head. They are good ancestors. In Legacy, best-selling author James Kerr goes deep into the heart of the world’s most successful sporting team, the legendary All Blacks of New Zealand, to reveal 15 powerful and practical lessons for leadership and business. Legacy is a unique, inspiring handbook for leaders in all fields, and asks: What are the secrets of success – sustained success? How do you achieve world-class standards, day after day, week after week, year after year? How do you handle pressure? How do you train to win at the highest level? What do you leave behind you after you’re gone? What will be your legacy?”


The 15 Chapters and lessons in Legacy are:

1.   Character –  Sweep the Sheds – Never be too big to do the small things that need to be done

2.   Adapt – Go for the Gap – When you’re on top of your game, change your game

3.   Purpose – Play with Purpose – Ask ‘Why?’

4.   Responsibility – Pass the Ball – Leaders create leaders

5.   Learn – Create a Learning Environment – Leaders are teachers

6.   Whanau – No Dickheads – Follow the spearhead

7.   Expectations – Embrace Expectations – Aim for the highest cloud

8.   Preparation – Train to Win – Practice under pressure

9.   Pressure – Keep a Blue Head – Control your attention

10. Authenticity – Know Thyself – Keep it real

11. Sacrifice – Find something you would die for and give your life to it

12. Language – Invent a Language – Sing your world into existence

13. Ritual – Ritualize to Actualize – Create a culture

14. Whakapapa – Be a Good Ancestor – Plant trees you’ll never see

15. Legacy – Write Your Legacy – This is your time


Keith Thompson

Written By: Cranfield University

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