Book Review: Winning Matters, Sean Fitzpatrick

Sean Fitzpatrick is one of the most successful rugby captains of all time, having played for the sporting team on the planet that possesses the highest win ratio of any team, the New Zealand All Blacks. He played 128 times for New Zealand, 51 as captain. 

Winning Matters is an outstanding and thoroughly insightful read on leadership from a personal and team perspective.

The book is part autobiography, part business. Fitzpatrick reflects on the key experiences, strategies and thought processes that have shaped him personally and which drove him to deliver exceptional standards of excellence as a player and leader. 

On building a team:

‘You need to provide a clear vision which everyone understands and how they are expected to contribute to this vision.’

He references the Rolling Stones who, despite their experience and age, still look critically and in very fine detail at every aspect of their performance. 

On fear of failure:

Structure and planning need to sit alongside insight and spontaneity, not on top of them.’

Which do you chose, fear of failure or fear of feedback? Chose the latter, avoid honest criticism and the opportunity to gain from experiencing failure will be lost.

On leadership:

Fitzpatrick offers a fascinating model, confirming that people perform best when 4 things are present, CASE:

Community- a sense of belonging and identity.

Authenticity- a genuine and true set of beliefs and principles that guide people, highlighting strengths, understanding weaknesses.

Significance- each team member must be clear on their individual contribution and why it is significant. 

Excitement- a sense of mission and purpose that gets the heart fluttering and which sets mind and muscle alight. Fear and excitement become mutually inclusive.’

Finally, a key statement on leadership:

Leadership is not taking people where they want to go, but where they need to be - it is not a question of taking the easy path but the right one.’

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