Last Thursday, Joe Schmidt, the double Six Nations winning Irish rugby coach, talked to Smurfit MBA candidates on ‘Managing High Performing Teams’ at the St. Stephen’s Green Hibernian Club.
He chip-kicked the event by praising his team for being natural athletes who work hard and give their everything to the sport. As a coach, he believes in giving players the freedom to evolve and self-lead themselves. In a team, individuals need to do their job right to win the team’s trust.
Executive MBA candidate and MC for the evening David Cashman steered the talk by discussing Schmidt’s extensive experience in leadership as a coach and strategies for glorious back-to-back Six Nations wins.
Schmidt emphasized the importance of investing in the people that these players are by the route of giving constant feedback. Team members feel assured that they are being noticed and that the leader is invested in them that yields better dividend.
He also spoke about his recruitment style; Besides observing a player’s game, Schmidt studies the player’s attitude too. He said that a player’s game can be improved by the right training but a player’s attitude or DNA cannot be changed. It is not about provinces, it is not about red or white jerseys – he says his foremost task is to pick the 15 best Irishmen who should represent ‘the green jersey’.
He highlighted that a player can lead his team by being emotionally intelligent and unselfish enough to drive younger players – qualities that Paul O’Connell possessed which is why it will be difficult to find his replacement.
Schmidt anecdotally mentioned that many young coaches seek tips from him to be professional coaches. He chuckled and said that they don’t know how tough his job is. And on a serious note, he added that it all depends on the way we invest in our people.
Schmidt delivered an inspiring talk on leadership that had the audience on its feet, clapping most of the time, whistling and roaring in approval. His address was candid and replete with humour making this event one of the most popular leadership talks of the year.
The event was curated by the MBA Thought Leadership Club, Smurfit School, UCD. There are a few people we would like to thank without whom this event would not have been of this magnitude – Dean Ciaran O’hÓgartaigh for supporting the event, Yvonne Harding from the MBA office for providing guidance and advice, Executive MBA candidate Conor Drudy for helping to set up Joe Schmidt for this leadership talk.
We wish the Irish Rugby Team the very best in chasing the three in a row!
Pooja Dey ~ Full-Time MBA