All Blacks Manager Shand Impresses at Father Son Breakfast

If the sound of silence was anything to go by, All Blacks Manager Darren Shand certainly captured the curiosity of the audience at the 2016 Westlake Boys Father Son Breakfast yesterday morning.

The breakfast was the largest ever hosted at Westlake and all guests enjoyed a substantial breakfast before settling in to listen to “Shandy” reveal some insights into his personal career from Hawke’s Bay schoolboy to All Blacks Manager, a position he has held for 12 years.

FSB2During Shand’s tenure with the All Blacks, the world champion team have won two World Cup Championship titles and no less than six Tri Nations’ titles. They have been named IRB Team of the Year eight times. These results do not happen by chance and Shand shared with us a few insights into aspects of the team culture and leadership philosophies that are integral to the team’s astoundingly enduring success.

_MG_5374Shand’s presentation was titled ‘Performance Under Pressure’; this being the essence of what makes the All Blacks the best at what they do i.e. when the going gets tough, the All Blacks are trained to perform to their best rather than succumb to the pressure.

Shand himself served a lengthy apprenticeship in managing risk and unpredictable situations when, in the early days of his career, he held positions as a Queenstown-based white-water rafting guide and then, as Marketing Manager at Westlaker AJ Hackett’s famous bungy operation. He learned that risk is a perception, something that may seem death-defying, in reality, rarely is. Whereas something that can appear as fun, such as white-water rafting, presents some huge challenges in terms of responsibility for people’s lives!

The All Black culture must surely be the envy of teams the world over. Shand shared that the cultural X factors are defined by superior results that have distinctive impact with long-lasting endurance. The resulting performances deliver hard-earned enduring relationships and inspirational outcomes.

Key features of the All Blacks culture include:

  • Not a catch-out culture.
  • Dependence is not created at the expense of independence i.e. team members are self-responsible within the team environment.
  • Balance i.e. a trio of factors combining Performance, Stimulation and FUN.
  • Honesty and transparency.
  • Train to WIN.
  • Independent thinking – avoid “social loafing” – all squad members are given the opportunity to speak out and be listened to.
  • “We” over “Me”.
  • Develop player strengths to develop team strengths.
  • Focus on what you can control – stay “above the line” i.e. don’t resort to “below the line” behaviours such as blame, denial and excuses. Stay above the line and take responsibility to make a difference.
  • Self-motivation – essential to each player and something that cannot be taught.
  • Make people’s day – have a “Yes” attitude.

If Culture is the leading shape in the All Blacks Performance Pressure puzzle, Leadership is its partner.

All Blacks leaders are selected based upon criteria such as levels of self-awareness, self-managing ability, effective relationship management, leadership traits and effectiveness in managing others.

The leaders in the group must be capable of handling responsibility, being accountable and having the respect that enables them to influence and engage fellow team members.

Shand’s top tips on Leadership

  • You can never not lead!
  • See something, do something!
  • See something positive – reward it!
  • See something negative – challenge it!
  • Leadership is the responsibility of every member of the team!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Look at the world through the eyes of others
  • Be visible and be engaged

Shand concluded his presentation with series of slides entitled Words to Lead By. Aptly displayed to the soundtrack of Train’s “Superman” featuring lyrics “It’s not easy to be Me”, the Words to Lead By set had “All Blacks culture” stamped all over it as it delivered distinctive impact and an enduring impression on all guests fortunate enough to be present.

Words to Lead By

Looking for leadership?

Look in the mirror.

A leader is …. a dealer in hope

Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.

Where there is no vision … the people perish.

Study the past, live in the moment, plan the future.

Leadership is action … not position.

There are no short cuts … to any place worth going.

Don’t wait for your ship to come in … Swim out to meet it.

Most things are difficult … before they are easy.

Act like you’re invincible, know that you’re not.

Fail to honour people … and they will fail to honour you.

Blame softly.

Praise loudly.

The more you say … the less they remember.

Be grateful for luck, but don’t count on it.

It’s not what happens when you’re there. It’s what happens when you’re not.

Authority is a poor substitute for leadership.

Hold everyone to a high standard. Hold yourself to a high standard.

Listen … and Lead.

Remember there’s always room at the top. But even more room at the bottom.

So … seek out people braver than you.

The time is always right … to do what’s right.

Keep your promises.

Keep your confidences.

Keep your temper.

Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?

Be out … and about.

Enjoy the process … but crave the goal.

We will either find a way … or make one.

Be not afraid of greatness. Real leaders are ordinary people … with extraordinary determination.

Words to Lead By.

Shand clearly walks his talk – despite airport closures and having to travel half way up the country to join us yesterday, Shand found a way. Thanks “Shandy”!

FSB3Thanks also to the Westlake Distance Runners and parents who took care of the serving and all the set up and clearing tasks. Our sincere thanks to Sanitarium UP&GO, The Yummy Fruit Company, Insphire, Spencer on Byron Hotel, Linebreak, Ritchies, North Harbour Rugby, d3 Tape, Factory Frames and the All Blacks for supporting the breakfast. Click here for a copy of the Father Son Breakfast programme booklet. 

FSB1Special thanks also to event photographers Miss McKay and Yu Chen who captured some stunning photographs of our boys and their dads. You can find all the event photos in Flickr gallery located on the school website and to be viewed below. Please feel free to contact Christine O’Dowd on [email protected] for a high resolution copy of the photos.


Congratulations to Chris Martin who lodged the winning bid for the Silent Action item, an impressive 2016 Signed All Blacks Jersey kindly donated by Darren Shand and the All Blacks team.

FSB4The 2016 Westlake Boys Father Son Breakfast was a particularly memorable occasion made special by the huge turnout of motivated Fathers and their sons, an inspiring guest speaker, the attendance of many members of staff and guests, superb organisation by event manager Christine O’Dowd and hearty breakfast fare. We hope you’re all able to join us again next year.