Former England Rugby Captain & founder of Dallaglio RugbyWorks
Welcome to Part Two of our Influential Leaders interview with Lawrence Dallaglio
One of the all-time greats of British sport, the former England captain has a special place at the very heart of rugby.
He has given so much back too, raising millions for charity and also through his own charity, Dallaglio RugbyWorks, based on the values of rugby, helping thousands of young people reach their potential.
Lawrence, a huge welcome back to our Leadership Interview. It’s a real privilege to talk to you.
As a rugby captain and a champion of business, you’ve always been a leader. When it comes to leadership, how much is pure instinct and how much can be learned?
I think bit of both. You can drop a lot of people in the jungle and some don’t want to make decisions and are very comfortable being in the background so I think there is that instinct, being prepared to take some responsibility and move it forward.
Clearly though, as a leader, you can improve, develop and learn and get better and you never stop learning actually. It’s more instinctive than people imagine.
What qualities about rugby are useful for the civilian world and also the world of business?
Obviously being part of team and understanding your role within that team is really important. At critical times, being able to delegate.
There’s an understanding that if you don’t do your job then others can’t do their job so that is a simple truth. It’s not all about control yourself.
There’s a work ethic that’s required in rugby and I think you have got to be prepared to suffer. A very strong work ethic that can relate to any business side of things and a resilience that you can develop playing rugby.
There’s quite a high pain threshold in rugby but I mean a resilience mentally as well to be able to come back from difficult situations or to take stock when things aren’t always going well.
Ultimately, sport and rugby are results driven businesses. Yes, obviously there’s the sporting element of taking part and it’s nice and very satisfying but it’s about getting results and there’s only ever two emotions when trying to win, agony or ecstasy so you learn very quickly how to get the right results.
You’ve had some uncomfortable times in the spotlight. How did you cope with the lows and how to pick yourself up from that? Do you think hitting rock bottom can actually be turned into a positive in life?
It’s all about perspective. When people say you’ve had uncomfortable moments in the spotlight, it’s only news and it’s not always the truth either so just have to keep it in perspective. It’s part and parcel.
When you‘ve been in some pretty difficult places previously in life, the odd headline is not going to disrupt you or kill you.
You become quite resilient and thick-skinned and not too cynical. It’s the best way to be – stay open and aware of the situation. Keep it in perspective, no matter how bad you think you are, there’s always plenty of people worse off than you in life.
No matter how much of a crisis you think you’re in or problems you have, there’s always people with much worse, so take confidence in that.
How important do you think strong male mentors are to directionless young boys, and girls too?
Mentors and role models are important for all of us but especially boys as it seems to take us a little bit longer to come to the party. I don’t know quite why we take a little bit longer to mature and develop but maybe that’s just God’s will.
Certainly having positive role models to lead, encourage and love you is fundamental really because we are a product of what we are exposed to, both good and bad and if you are exposed to good things, good people, good values and good leadership role models, be they parents, friends, family or work colleagues or whatever, then you have those fundamental life lessons to take you all the way forward.
If you not surrounded by that support system then life can take a very different direction. It really is important.
I was lucky enough to have wonderful parents who ultimately gave me a lot of things but most importantly, gave me unconditional love and a huge sense of belief.
Please tell us a bit about how your charity work and the Dallaglio Foundation that helps turn around teenagers lives?
It’s called Dallaglio RugbyWorks and it is essentially an educational charity that uses rugby as a hook to work with disadvantaged young people who find themselves excluded from mainstream education for one reason or another. The ultimate aim is to get them into sustained employment or full-time education.
We work with 14-17 year old boys and girls giving them life skills and soft skills to help them turn their lives around. We are in over 70 schools all over the UK and expanding rapidly. Supply for the programme exceeds demand so that’s very exciting.
I felt very passionate about working with young people and wanted to use rugby as a way of giving back as it felt like the natural space.
I went through a turbulent couple of years as a teenager growing up and but for the support system I had around me and people to guide me, I could have taken a very different direction and I wanted to make sure it didn’t happen to others.
There’s a big gap growing in this country between the have’s and the have not’s and a big problem socially with poverty.
1 in 5 young people are living in poverty. It’s harder now that it’s ever been to be a young person so it’s more important than ever for them to have the support system around them to make the best of what they’ve got. It’s all very exciting phase of the charity and it’s going from strength to strength.
We are around 68% successful in getting these young people into sustained employment or full-time education. It’s never going to be 100% successful.
The stats show that 65% of young people in prison have been expelled from school so system is fundamentally flawed.
A young man, Jose has been through the programme and applied for a job with us. He has now been taken on as a full-time coach for our programme. He was taken on on merit and it’s a wonderful story for the programme really.
A couple of others have really inspirational stories and recently they have gone into full-time employment or university – it’s working!
2019 tipped to be most competitive Rugby World Cup the world has ever seen. You were part of the team that won the 2003 World Cup – the only year team from Northern Hemisphere has won it. Could this year be the time they do it again?
It’s certainly on the cards for sure. New Zealand are certainly without a doubt the favourites but the gap is definitely closed with likes of Ireland, England, and Wales.
There are about 6 or 7 teams of which over half are from the Northern Hemisphere that could claim to have incredible chances of winning the Rugby World Cup.
It’s the first in Asia so it’s very historic and the first time it’s taken place outside of a Tier 1 nation. A number of leading sides, including the ones I have just mentioned, can lay realistic claims to being able to win it.
It does promise to be probably the most competitive World Cup ever!
Read Part One here Influential Leaders: Lawrence Dallaglio