Thu, 17 Oct 2013
Businesses must look for ideas – and talent – outside of their immediate sector in order to win, says the entrepreneur turned round-the-world yachtsman who helped the English rugby team to victory in the 2003 World Cup.
Motivational speaker and leadership and management consultant Humphrey Walters was speaking yesterday (16 October) at the Great British Workforce Revolution Conference, attended by independent directors, business angels, entrepreneurs and recruiter.co.uk in London, presented by Angel News, alongside interims provider Russam GMS.
“What depresses me about business people is they always look in their sector,” he said – using his own success of moving into the world of elite sporting performance as evidence that this can reap benefits, in a talk titled ‘The Business of Winning’.
After two decades building up a management training business, Walters quit in 1994 and, having never sailed in his life, found a place on a crew in round the world race the BT Global Challenge.
Following his 11 months at sea, he became involved in 1997 with the England rugby team. Then ranked tenth in the world, head coach Clive (now Sir Clive) Woodward asked him to get involved in the then-underperforming England rugby team.
Woodward told him: “I want you to come in with business principals and get cracking.” When Walters told him he didn’t even own a tracksuit, Woodward responded: “You put on a tracksuit and you’re out of here”.
Walters told the audience that he sees this as a “courageous” move by the head coach, for which he attracted much criticism in the press.
Amongst the initiatives he bought to the England team were increased professionalism including punctuality, taking pride in the job and the badge, setting rules and standards, and media training.
Six years later, England were world champions – and Humphreys, added, the media training evidently paid off too. “Every time I turn on the television, it’s Matt bloody Dawson,” he joked. Walters has since worked with the British Olympic Association and several top football clubs, as well as with a JCB project to break the land speed record.
“Look outside your sector for something different,” Walters urged the business people in attendance, adding as one of the key messages in his talk: “Getting better never stops.
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