Declan Kidney knows that professional sports team management is brutish. Wins are quickly forgotten and sentiment turns quickly toxic when results don't meet expectations. Most leaders performance evaluation is conducted in private. Not so for a professional coach, even a Monday morning pundit (like myself) feels we have a right to review the coaches performance.
Yet whatever public sentiment lingers, I believe Declan Kidney's legacy includes three great leadership lessons:
- His honesty and humility - his raw honestly after Ireland won the Grand Slam 2009, where he credited the local coaches, players and everybody else. No credit was taken by himself. He shuned the Irish players requests to join in the podium celebrations and in interviews he sounded like a bemused bystander. We his followers knew differently.
- His forward looking and inspiring perspective – he was always looking to the next match and improved performance. As a school teacher he took lessons learnt to the next game. His preparation and carefully chosen words were used to inspire players to do their best.
- His ability to build winning teams - In an era where players have a thirst for knowledge, always looking for an edge technically and tactically - he was at the top of his game. He understood his players and motivated them to be better than they thought they could be. He truly believed it is all about the team and the players.
Sure some of his calls were wrong. Leaders walk a fine line between winning and losing.
For me, his leadership qualities of honestly and humility, his forward-looking and inspirational perspective and his ability to build winning teams provide lessons for us all.