Last week I had the absolute pleasure of presenting at the Corporate Health and Wellbeing Conference in NZ, ironically just a few days before their world was shattered by the events in Christchurch.

It’s so hard to comprehend such a tragic event could take place in NZ, as in my view, NZ is the most welcoming, peaceful place on the planet. My heart goes out to all our Kiwi and Muslim friends and anyone else whose world has been torn apart by the insane actions of this lunatic. Sending you ‘virtual’ massive hugs and love. 

Back to the conference. As I was listening and learning from the amazing speakers from the back of the room, I suddenly became aware that a man had snuck in and taken a seat next to me. In the break, I was surprised (and excited) when the man lent over, shook my hand and said: “Hi, I’m Gilbert!”

Oh, I know who you are! 
(that little voice in my head said, it’s OK I didn’t say that out loud). 

Instead, I very casually shook his hand and replied:
“Nice to meet you, I’m Blythe!”

Gilbert…. Gilbert Enoka.

Perhaps the name is unfamiliar to you.
Perhaps his professional achievements might ring a few bells.

Gilbert is the current Manager of the “All Blacks” rugby team, and previous to this role was internationally renowned as their mental skills coach for 15 years. 

This is the man who during his history with the All Blacks has seen them win back to back Rugby World Cups, one Laureus Award (for the best team in the world), 13 Bledisloe Cups, three Grand Slams, seven Tri Nations and four Rugby Championships. 

Now I’m a proud Aussie (and of course a Wallabies supporter), and yet I can’t help but have huge respect for the All Blacks as a team, and of course Gilbert as their leader.

That’s some impressive results.

Little did Gilbert realise, I had spent the previous day sharing with 50 leaders the lessons we can learn from this man (not about how to win a world cup, remember they were Kiwi’s), rather about his philosophy for the winning ingredients for a successful team and ultimately about how to create a workplace, worth belonging.

Let me share just one, my personal fave.
The “No Dickheads” Policy!

The Point: 
To wean out inflated egos and make everything about the team.

Central Belief:
You can’t “be a positive person on the field and a prick off it”.

What constitutes a dickhead: 
A dickhead makes everything about them. They are people who put themselves ahead of the team, people who think they’re entitled to things (because of their talent or title), expect the rules to be different for them, people operating deceitfully in the dark, or being unnecessarily loud about their work.

How it works:
The key philosophy is that the team towers above the individual. You will never succeed on your own, but you will be successful as an individual if the team functions well.
The team actually monitors the behaviours of each other and calls out inappropriate behaviour or inflated egos. The management might not spot these counterproductive behaviours which are why a critical aspect of this policy is that the team feel empowered to call each other out.

All Black's motto is:
If you can’t change the people, change the people.

Man! how I wish we could introduce the ‘No Dickheads Policy’ into corporate Australia and/or other institutions or bureaucracies. It would look a little something like this:

  • Just because you are the CEO or the boss, that does not mean it’s OK to swear at people and bang your fists on the table when you are frustrated or under the pump - DICKHEAD

  • Just because you have fancy letters in front or behind your name, does not mean you are more superior than your hardworking colleagues or team and that the rules don’t apply to you - DICKHEAD

  • Just because you are the salesperson achieving the highest sales, does not mean you don’t have to attend the compulsory weekly sales meetings or be open to feedback about your behaviour - DICKHEAD

Ohhh sooo many examples of times where this simple policy could have to be the answer to resolving people issues before they turn into toxic workplace cultural issues.

But here’s the thing. In order for this to work, we need a few things:

  1. Clarity
    Clarity around aligned behaviours, including the ‘not negotiable’behaviours. In addition to clarity regarding roles, responsibilities and rituals. Teams can not hold each other accountable unless they are clear on what those aligned behaviours and/or expectations are.

  2. Empowerment
    Individuals need to feel supported by the system, the leaders and each other to speak up. And they obviously need the skills to call each other out, the 'right’ way.

  3. Mutual trust and respect
    Obvious, yes. Easy, no. Trust and respect is the foundation for creating an environment where this kind of philosophy or policy will actually create positive outcomes for the team, which is the clear intention in this case.

This is where you gotta give credit once again to Gilbert and the team. They are ALL custodians of their culture (they don't outsource this to HR) and this has enabled them all to flourish and produce amazing results. 

Kia Ora!

With Love & Support for all,


BLYTHE ROWE & Her Life on Heels.

The founder and director of Human Incite, is widely recognised for her passion, energy and her ability to shake things up. Blythe is brilliant at revving-up productivity and performance in organisations. She is on a mission to rid our workplaces of toxic behaviours, build meaningful relationships, personally and professionally and create workplaces worth belonging. Her enthusiasm simply is infectious!