Ex-Black Fern to research our women's rugby success

What is it about the Black Ferns that has led to their consistent 85 per cent win rate? Palmerston North academic and former Black Ferns' captain Dr Farah Palmer plans to find out.

Palmer is set to start a research project looking at what role leadership and organisational culture play in the New Zealand women's rugby team's success.

She led the Black Ferns to three consecutive women's rugby World Cup victories and is now a senior lecturer at Massey University's School of Management in Palmerston North.

Palmer will also be speaking at the Recreation in Action conference next month, giving an inside view on success and leadership based on her 11 years of playing rugby at an international level.

"We live in a very busy world where we are all going from one project to another, with KPIs [key performance indicators] and targets we need to meet.

"We think we don't have time to look back and see what we've learnt," she said.

One of Palmer's new research topics is leadership. She said reflection needed to happen more in sport and leadership.

"That's how we will get wiser, more ethical and more effective leaders.

"There are so many different elements to what creates great leadership material. You need to take into account the followers and their expectations, the context and the culture in which the leader is operating in."

Some common leadership traits prevailed - "confidence, being proactive, and having a strong sense of vision".

People used metaphors from sport when talking about business leadership, but there was a difference, she said.

"In sport there is a finite moment where there is a clear outcome, unlike in the business world where things are never so clear-cut.

"Business leaders have to motivate on a day-by-day basis, not just for the game.

"Effective sport leaders, as with war leaders, are a different type. They are more authoritarian, they make decisions on the spot, and they have similar motives. Business leaders will generally have quite a variety of motives."


What: Recreation in Action conference.

When: June 5 and 6.

Where: Massey University's Sports and Rugby Institute in Palmerston North.

Who: Dr Farah Palmer.

Manawatu Standard