Movie: Chasing Great. 2016 feature-length doco, made in New Zealand. Directed by Justin Pemberton, Michelle Walshe.
Executive coaching message: Aspiring to ride your own 50-foot wave.
Chasing Great is a documentary feature tracing the journey of New Zealand rugby union player Richie McCaw. It reveals McCaw’s transition from Most Valuable Player in the world to Greatest All Black Captain.
It is a very well made film, expertly juxtaposing interviews with McCaw and his advisors/friends and family with fabulous photography opening the film out into huge Canterbury landscapes. The landscapes work on a literal level to take us through the seasons, to mark elapsed time in the movie as well as metaphorically to reflect the scale of McCaw’s ambition.
McCaw tells us that leading the ABs to victory in the 2016 World Cup was his equivalent of facing a 50-foot surfing wave. Sure, it is a monumental challenge but it was one McCaw embraced and focused on with ruthless single-mindedness.
So what do we learn from Chasing Great about how to transform yourself from being a technical expert to being a great leader, from captaining the losing team in 2008 to leading the team to an unprecedented double victory in 2012 and 2016?
1. Have a plan. Write it down, commit yourself, do the work and check progress against the plan.
2. Success makes a lousy teacher. The loss in 2008 was devastating for McCaw, but it set him on the road to turn himself into a highly-skilled leader.
3. Feel the pain, disappointment and fear. And reset your strategies accordingly, so that next time those setbacks occur you will be equipped to deal with them.
4. Use expertise. Bring a range of experts and points of view to expand the possibilities.
5. Build your presence. Inhabit your role as leader clearly and powerfully.
This is an inspirational story about a remarkable leader who stepped down leaving his team with succession in place and performance levels untouched.