Consistency vs the hero
Eddie Jones is one of the modern super coaches of Rugby Union. His accolades are exceptional and he’s built championship teams at club and international test level for Australia, South Africa, Japan and now England.
In an excellent podcast interview accompanying his new book “Leadership: Lessons From My Life in Rugby” he mentioned that often excellent club players make the national team and don’t shine the way they did at club level. By shine I mean they’re no longer the hero, the flashy pass, the dashing side step, the magic that made them a known name.
The problem is that it’s not a collection of flashy players that make an exceptional team, it’s a collection of consistent players. Jones’ calls it “the trademark game” that each player should strive for, which is playing deliberately, disciplined, with effort. He claims that if 75% of your team plays this way you’ll win the game.
He specifically mentions Dan Carter, one of the heroes of All Black rugby and one of the greatest fly-halves of all time. People remember Dan for his flashy moments, but they were rare, what made him one of the all time greatest was his consistency. He was usually in the right place at the right time, he conserved his energy when needed, he usually took the conservative route but did it well.
It’s the same for project work. The one deserving praise isn’t the hero developer who is always saying they’ll get it done today but never do, and then at the last night you see them committing code at 5am before the deadline. They get praise for the heroics but it was actually the steady developer that gave realistic deadlines, declined meetings to make sure their work gets done, was disciplined and avoided procrastination and went home at a reasonable hour, that deserves all the praise.
Clients might initially get wowed by the flashiness but it’s those that are playing their trademark games that are the rocks of successful delivery.
To pull this off you need to regulate your ego, be brave (you need to say no), focus on things that matter, manage your calendar by blocking time when you’re productive, stop notifications, speak to your team lead when it’s not realistic. If your whole team is doing that you’ve got a shot at a successful project.