Nurture Change and Sir Graham Henry: Lead from the top and capture team spirit

Kiwi legend Sir Graham Henry will share his approach to leadership and team-building at the Nurture Change Business Retreat.

Kiwi legend Sir Graham Henry will share his approach to leadership and team-building at the Nurture Change Business Retreat.

In my opinion Sir Graham Henry is the most successful rugby coach of all time. His success and learnings on and off the field around team culture have shaped New Zealand.

A few years ago, Graham spoke at our inaugural Nurture Change, he was such a hit that he will be back at Nurture Change this year by popular demand. Sir Graham shares some of his wisdom here. 

What has been your biggest learning in business to date and why? 

Nurture Change Business Retreat founders Steve Pirie (left) and Zac de Silva are looking forward to welcoming this ...
David White

Nurture Change Business Retreat founders Steve Pirie (left) and Zac de Silva are looking forward to welcoming this year's delegates to Fiji.

That I needed to change leadership style from 'coach driven' to 'team driven' during my time with Wales and the Lions in 2001.

People don't respond well to an authoritarian coach, telling them what to do. They do better when they're given the tools they need and then empowered to do what they need to do.  It took me 30 years to realise that I needed to change from an authoritarian, tell-them-what-to-do coach to a consensus coach; from a "me-and-them" culture to an "us" culture.

What do you think are the top qualities that every business owner needs? 

Passion, know the game, and develop your people. Give people opportunities to get involved in activities they enjoy and have ability in.

I learned a lot from Sir John Graham (DJ), who was headmaster of Auckland Grammar, All Black captain, NZ cricket team manager, president of the NZ Rugby Union and won the Halberg Leadership Award. I found him to be a quality leader with an innate ability to develop other people. During DJ's time as headmaster at Auckland Grammar, numerous teachers went on to be secondary school principals and leaders in education.

How would your team describe your leadership style? 

Consensus without losing accountability. After 2007's failed world cup campaign, one of the reasons why we got rehired was because our players wanted us back as a management team. It's something you have to ask yourself as a leader: if they had a choice, would your team choose you to lead them?

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Do you have any tips on how you can future-proof your business? 

Better never stops. You need to have a growth mindset to be successful, as opposed to a fixed mindset. A growth mindset means you learn from setbacks or difficult times. With a fixed mindset you withdraw or feel incapable. From what I've seen, successful people and companies focus on constant improvement through executing well each day. I learned a lot from working with Gilbert Enoka at the All Blacks. He ensured the team and individuals were always looking forward, with a solution-focused mentality based on humility – remembering that we are not the finished product.

How do you look after your health and wellbeing? 

Exercise most days - usually it's a run to clear my head and get the blood pumping, and plenty of ribena - those of you who went to Nurture Change in 2015 will know what I'm talking about!

What are you most excited about in attending the Nurture Change Business Retreat in Fiji?  

Meeting positive people. I've met some great people through Nurture Change, people that have become good friends. I'm looking forward to learning from other people's experiences. I'm always interested in continuing the learning process. I believe you should never stop learning – it's stimulating!

* Zac de Silva is the co-founder of, the operator of the Nurture Change business retreat.

Nurture Change Business Retreat is the ultimate 'bizcation', a business and wellness crossover that can change your business and your life. It's a break from your 9-5 grind that gets you thinking 'on' your business, not 'in' your business. Aimed at business owners, senior managers and entrepreneurs looking for new ideas, space to think on their business, inspiration, relaxation and meaningful connection with like minded people.

Our world-class speaker line up will stimulate and reinvigorate your mind and inspire you to live a better life and run a better business. 

November 8 to 12 at the 5-star InterContinental Fiji. 

Details online at 

Nurture Change and Fairfax are giving away four scholarships worth around $5,000 each. Each scholarship covers airfares for one person, four nights accommodation, including breakfast, lunch & dinner (excluding drinks), access to the speakers, health and wellness and morning fitness sessions and question and answer sessions with business leaders. We have one scholarship in each of the following four categories: under 25s (as at November 1, 2017), innovation, emerging business (a business less than 3 years old) and established business (a business more than 3 years old). To enter applicants need to email explaining in 250 words why they deserve to be awarded a scholarship. Entries close Midday, Monday, July 24, 2017. Only one entry per person. Winners must be available to depart New Zealand from either Auckland or Christchurch on November 8, 2017 and return on November 12, 2017. For full terms and conditions search for "Nurture Change 2017" at

 - Sunday Star Times

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