Yesterday, I feel like I had the quintessential South African experience. The day began with watching the Rugby game between South Africa and their arch-rival, the New Zealand ‘All Blacks.’ I did, indeed cheer for SA’s Springboks (a nimble, quick animal similar to a deer, I gather) even though they were absolutely torn apart by New Zealand. I was also a little surprised by how “into the game” I became. There were a lot of really exciting plays, huge hits, and amazing displays of athleticism. It reminded me of American Football with an excess amount of laterrolls (which I love- I don’t think NFL teams take enough risk with plays like that). While my South African friends would probably disown me if I said it, I did gain a lot of respect for the New Zealand team while watching the game. New Zealand began the game (as apparently they do every game) with a traditional war dance called a Haka. Some people said it was meant as intimidation to the other team and I am not sure about that, but I am positive that having the entire team engage in such a high energy activity such as that really unifies the group. They feel like they are all together in this battle and they are in war-preparation together. Regardless of how it looks, the benefits are what it does to the team performing it.
As a captain of our Ultimate Frisbee team in college, we would always start with a motivational chant, huddle, cheer etc and it did get us motivated and unify us. Is it possible to bring this energy and motivation to a professional setting? Can a company have a Haka? How about a VC firm? I can’t really imagine my company starting every morning off with a traditional war dance before sitting down at our desks to have a conference call with investment partners- but there must be more subtle ways to unify the team just like the “All Blacks” haka. What will I do with my team when I have my company? One large healthcare corporation Da Vita, is known for having all-company “pump-up” sessions where people scream and shout about their company, but there are many people that simply will not buy into this sort of ritual.
What will be my haka?