Gordon Tredgold’s Rugby Experience Lead to Leadership Success-Part III


Rugby instills immense determination in people that they may not have initially realised, or know what to direct it towards. Finding a way to get people to achieve more is what gives Tredgold the passion and drive in leadership and that’s what he looks to do all the time now. His rugby passion has influenced him to always strive to be better. Tredgold, once a rugby prop, now runs marathons, something he never conceived as likely for him.

Tredgold wrote a book, “Leadership It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint.” He has run a few marathons now, accomplishing his personal best in Ft. Lauderdale, beating five hours for the first time (4h 52m).

Consider how Tredgold, with his only running experiences from rugby, successfully completed marathons. “I had a plan I believed in, but I had an example of a 100 year old man who could do it,” exclaimed Tredgold. “Not only did that give me the confidence that I should go and do it, but I actually persuaded five other people who were not marathon runners, by showing them a plan that they believed in and then persuading them to go and run the marathon with me.”

There is a conscious excitement that rugby players feel when playing a game, all working hard to win, even if thought to be an unlikely scenario. “Having others work towards a goal with you is more fun, motivating, and you get inspiration,” said Tredgold.

Tredgold’s physique does not look like that of a marathon runner, so people may wonder how he is able to run marathons. Tredgold explained, “It’s good to be able to create that inspiration and create that belief. Then when they start to do it, I am inspired and that inspiration is infectious.”

There was a deeper meaning to Tredgold’s running. He has five friends undergoing chemotheraphy and he raised money for the MacMillian Trust, a big cancer support organisation. One of his friends said, “the chemo is pretty hard to go through, but you running every day inspires me to keep going.” Tredgold said in amazement, “The look on people’s face when someone does something completely unexpected is awesome.”

Quite often people who are involved in rugby play for a deeper meaning and contribute their time to benefit the community. This rugby goodness is uplifting not only to the athletes themselves, but to all of the people who are involved.

“For me that’s a big part of leadership is giving people the confidence to just start. Be successful at anything and then let’s see where we can transfer that to other areas of your life,” said Tredgold.

It is so important in the business world to have accurate indications of performance, e.g. annual performance reviews. Too often performance reviews are done annually in businesses, but people should be informed more often about how they are doing through the year.

As a leader, Tredgold says, “If I wait until the end of the year to tell you that you’re not doing a good enough job, then you haven’t given them the opportunity to improve, and that’s just not good leadership. Good leaders get the best out of their team, and that requires feedback.

If a player is playing badly, they’ll hear it from the players, the coach, and the crowd, not wait for the after match report. We have to give back timely feedback.” According to Tredgold.,“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

There is very clear tranpsarency in performance in sports, like rugby. We have league tables, which show us our comparative performance, it shows our record and the record of every other team. There is no guessing about how we are doing it’s crystal clear.

Tredgold’s training in business uses a similar tool to a league table, which allows you to be fair. “A team’s performance is crystal clear from the league table. Once we start talking about things, we talk about what we are going to do to improve it, rather than discussing what we think the performance is. That would mean we are discussing the wrong things.

By having clarity into performance, it allows us to provide support to teams that are not doing well, and it also allows us to provide recognition once they start to improve.

Recognition is so important for people to be successful. Referring back to Tredgold’s story about the tackling coach, once the players knew how they were doing, they strived to improve and they made more tackles as a result, and won more games.

A coach can tell an athlete how to tackle, as Tredgold explains, “when they’re coming down, put your head on the outside and hit them with your shoulder.” If they ask you why and you don’t know the answer, then it’s not as good a learning experience than, “You want to put your head on the outside so they don’t fall on your head.” The more we teach, the more questions we’ll get, then the more we’ll actually have to go back and learn. Gordon suggests to anybody in a leadership role, “teach others.”

Mindset it important for success. People need to have confidence and think that they’ll be successful, or they won’t be. When Gordon played rugby at university, they had a season where they had lost all of their games home and away. They played Liverpool on a Wednesday and again the following Saturday. On Wednesday, Gordon’s team lost 50-0 at home. On Saturday, at their away game, two of the players on his team couldn’t make it.

As they were getting changed to start the game, the best player looked at Gordon and said, “We’re gonna get murdered today…we have no chance of winning. I have no clue how we’re going to beat these guys.” Based on the negative attitude, the player was sidelined for that game. He played standoff so when Gordon asked the reserve standoff, “Do you think we can win today?” he replied, “Absolutely.” They were beat 49-5, but they were the first team to score against them.

“When people don’t think that they’re going to be successful, then what’s the point of being on the team? If you think we’re gonna win and we start to struggle, then you try harder, said Tredgold. “If you think we’re gonna lose and we start to lose, you think “phew, thank God for that…we can give up and it’s over.””

Referring to the New Zealand All Blacks, Tredgold suggested some interesting research to conduct would be, “looking back to a period when New Zealand was not the better team on paper, how many times did that team win? …Winning games that they shouldn’t win, just because of the mental attitude.”

How many times in our own lives have we fallen behind or failed, not because we could not do it, but because we did not have the confidence that is instilled in many rugby players, to know we could do it. Now we are more aware, thanks to Tredgold’s FAST leadership principles and his rugby examples, that by having an image of victory, knowing what we need to do, having a simple plan on what we need to do, and how to get there, we will be successful.

Go back to Part I here.


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