Sam Burgess and his pursuit of the perfect return


03 November 2016


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Key considerations when leading change

England’s new National Rugby League (NRL) captain, Sam Burgess, has been in the spotlight once more. The former Rugby Union centre is no stranger to change. Following the events of 2015 Rugby World Cup, where he was ridiculed as a scapegoat for England’s failings, Burgess attempts to carve the path of history once more, but this time leading his country through the Rugby League Four Nations. England are experiencing an organisational change; but how will they cope with their new leader?

Burgess, as captain of England, is highly valuable to the team. With his experience of making a number of significant personal transitions in 2015 – including switching codes, hemispheres and club teams - he can appreciate the impact his new leadership role may have on his Rugby League teammates.

But, being a leader is no easy task. People depend on you, responsibilities increase and you’re expected to perform at your best under the highest of scrutiny. So how does Burgess and the management team maximise the effectiveness of this change?

Based on Lane4’s research into organisational change, we suggest 2 components that could help:

Communicating the Story – Burgess has a wealth of experience, including success and failure at the highest level; giving him a unique story that can be used to engage his teammates in the future of English Rugby League. Telling his story in this way will be credible, authentic and deliver a real sense of belief in what the future can hold.

Enabling the people – Developing a sense of trust, resilience and capability within the team will be critical if English Rugby League is going to deliver in the Four Nations. Burgess and the management team will need do their upmost to create the belief, provide advice and develop the skills of the players around them to exceed performance expectations under pressure.

As with many organisations, the introduction of a new leader is a change that must be carefully managed if engagement, and ultimately performance, is to be maximised. These types of changes can often create uncertainty and at worst, a lack of engagement.

Above are just a few of the components required to develop engagement through change. What other elements do leaders need to consider to lead a successful change?

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