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  • Toby Sinclair

Book Summary: Leadership by Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones Leadership Book Summary

⭐ Toby's Rating: 10/10 - Recommended For: Business Leaders

3 Big Ideas from Eddie Jones Leadership 💡

In this book summary of Leadership by Eddie Jones you will learn:

  1. The old dictator of a coach shouting out a team doesn’t work anymore. Servant leadership brings out the best in a team. Asking more than telling.

  2. Leaders must build a learning environment. The biggest advantage teams can develop is the ability to learn faster and better than the competition.

  3. Mine for conflict. Unresolved conflict blows up in high-pressure moments. Continuously seek out the unexploded grenades in your team and detonate them before match day.

2 Best Quotes from Leadership by Eddie Jones 💬

A leaders job is to help people get as close as possible to achieving their full potential.
We call them ‘soft skills’ but they’re actually bloody hard.

Tobys Top Takeaway

When I started to learn about coaching I pictured this: A sports coach at the sidelines shouting at the players, telling them what to do. This is no surprise given that's how the dictionary defines coaching. I've learned over the years that high-performance coaching is very different.

The old dictator of a coach shouting out a team doesn’t work anymore.

I've studied Eddie Jones since he took charge of England Rugby in 2016. I've analysed Eddie Jones coaching approach, summarised Eddie Jones leadership principles and the fatal fears in every team.

Leadership by Eddie Jones is the book I've been waiting for. A deep dive into Eddie Jones' leadership principles and values. A detailed look at coaching in an elite sporting environment.

Readers unfamiliar with modern sports coaching will be surprised. Learning that for teams to succeed, it's not about telling them what to do. It's about giving increasing amounts of responsibility to the team. For example, England Rugby players decide their Monday schedule, not the coaches.

A superb read for leaders in business. Learn how to create an elite performance environment in your workplace.

My takeaway: The importance of creating a learning environment, where team members can maximise their potential.


Big Ideas Expanded 💡

This book summary expands on the big ideas from Leadership by Eddie Jones.

Eddie Jones Leadership Cycle

Leadership Cycle

  • Vision

  • Build

  • Experiment

  • Win [Overcome Failure]

  • Rebuild

At every stage:

  • Manage people

  • Mine for conflict

  • Map where we are in the cycle

Build the right people around you

You don't need to get on with the team lead socially. All that really matters are your professional and performance relationships. Can you work together professionally to improve the performance of the organization?

Great teams have great performance relationships rather than great friendships.

Servant Leadership

All the research shows that, if teams think through problems themselves, rather than being told, the chances of them then owning and solving the problem will be much higher.

When a problem is identified don't give the team the solution. Ask them to work together and identify solutions. Eddie Jones often gives his players a challenge and asks them to come back in a couple of days with solutions. It's more about asking the players rather than telling them.

The old dictator of a coach shouting out a team doesn’t work anymore. The idea that a coach changes the course of a match at half-time is now a redundant way of thinking. The partnership between the coach and the players is far more important. You’ve got to work together.

Sometimes, you be very clear and direct and tell people what they have to do. But, for the vast majority of the time, you are serving them.

Some players just don’t need to be coached. They only need to be encouraged to keep being their best. (Example: Jonny Wilkinson) Other players need reinforcement and to know you care about them.

Great leaders decrease stress while increasing focus and awareness.

Inspiring Potential

I did. not always push players hard enough to be their best.

Arsène Wenger

A coach’s job is to paint the full picture of the player’s potential and get them to believe it.

It’s never about what they want. It’s what they need to realize their potential.

A leaders job is to help people get as close as they can to fulfilling their full potential.

In every sphere of leadership, you shape the thinking of those who work with you or for you. You want them to believe that the seemingly impossible is possible. You want them to reach for greatness. So you’ve got to be really creative and innovative, and absolutely relentless in looking for an edge.

Every time you see a member of staff, there’s a chance to have either a positive or negative effect on them.

It’s so important to work really hard on observational skills. Leaders must walk the shop floor. To understand the atmosphere of your workplace. The best leaders are always gauging the mood and canvassing people in their organization. Your eyes and your gut give you more information than anything else.’

Creating a Learning Environment

If I was running a business, the first person I would employ would be a learning expert. The pressing question is always: ‘How can I create the best learning environment?’

England Rugby team meetings usually won’t last longer than 15 minutes. They are limited to three points. Teams break out into small groups for discussion and use a mixture of video, movement and infographics to make it more stimulating.

The only reliable advantage in life, business or sport, is to learn faster than the opposition.

Let the team own their development.

When the England Rugby squad comes in on a Monday, they split up into four groups. Each has a leader. They also have an overall leader of the leaders. It doesn’t have to be the captain (Owen Farell). It’s good to mix it up and have other players take charge. The players now organize their Monday mornings. They decide what kind of meeting each group needs and what work would benefit them the most. It’s totally down to them if they do skill work, or organize something with the strength-and-conditioning coaches. They run the timetable. So they take ownership from the start of the week, by controlling their Monday mornings, as they get ready to prepare for the next game.

Eddie Jones shares that Denarius Frazier has inspired his teaching approach. Denarius is a Math teacher that uses engaging approaches to learning. The perfect example of Sharon Bowman Training from Back of the Room.

Here is Denarius Frazier in action:

Eddie Jones builds curiosity in his player. Curiosity opens up opportunities to learn.

As the game becomes more chaotic, the idea of ‘perfection’ is the ability to adapt. It's not about doing everything perfectly but responding to change well.


We call them ‘soft skills’ but they’re actually bloody hard.

Self-knowledge is always a cornerstone of leadership. The ability to confront your strengths and weaknesses, to know deep down what works for you and what you need to do to keep improving, and to understand the ways you influence your employees, is important every day you are in charge.

The first and most important thing you need to do is coach yourself.


We do not want to carry grenades in the back of the truck.

Grenades are unresolved conflicts within the team. If not resolved, this can detonate in high-pressure moments. England Rugby ran grenade detonation sessions with a specialist coach, Corinne Reid, ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019.

A tough conversation about professional performance in elite environments, needn’t affect your relationship going forward.

A healthy elite environment is dependent on clear honesty and robust conversations.

Conflict can only be healthy if it is constructive and searching. Being deliberately argumentative or always prickly is obviously not going to help anyone.

When the pressure is really on, composure is needed more than conflict. But, away from the heat of battle, and when strategies are being planned and systems organized, a healthy dose of conflict can make everyone much sharper and more focused in their thinking.

Develop Shared Values

Values of England Rugby Team:

  • Bring it on – having the courage to take anything on

  • Togetherness – that sense of cohesion and unity is self-explanatory

  • Clear thinking – which underlined the importance of clarity

The players came up with those three values. With shared values, it is easier to reward and challenge behaviour.

Finding the Access Points to Emotional Connection

Have crucial conversations with team members that they will remember. Something that makes them feel really good or something that sparks an uncomfortable feeling. These conversations can inspire people to see how they can improve.

Under- pressure, three characters emerge in a team:

  • Stay strong. We need to make a few changes but we’re on the right track. The good results will come and we will get out of trouble.

  • Uncertainty. They are not sure why it’s going wrong and whether or not it will come right again. They don’t really know what to do or what will happen. They’re looking to be led.

  • Blame. These are people who are looking to blame someone else. It’s the fault of the head coach or the captain. It’s the fault of his lazy teammates or the barracking fans or the hysterical media. This kind of person is always looking for an excuse or a way out.

Eddie Jones Leadership Cycle

Stage 1 - Vision

1. Setting the Vision [STRATEGY]

  • Always start with the end in mind

  • Set the principles

  • Establish the values

  • Understand the climate

  • Know the environment

2. Character over Cover Drive [PEOPLE]

  • Put the right people around you

  • Build togetherness

  • Identify the quick wins and the big changes required

  • Plan the transformation

3. Clarity Is the New Clever [OPERATION]

  • Assess everything

  • Provide the clarity – the code of operation, the expectations of delivery

  • Translate the vision into achievable goals

4. The Glue of Knowledge [MANAGEMENT]

  • Understand the groups, understand the individuals

  • Understand the gaps – in capability, values and belief

  • Align the vision to individual journeys

Stage 2 - Build

5. Growth Mondays [STRATEGY]

  • Provide the context – join the vision to the transformation

  • Support change with clarity of direction

  • Set the horizon – make the end game real

6. Disciplined Thinking and Emotional Journeys [PEOPLE]

  • Align the resources to the changes required

  • Deliver the quick wins Deliver the fundamental changes – both upfront and overtime

7. Conflict Is Healthy [OPERATION]

  • Plan and execute

  • Highlight the goals – what will success look like?

  • Apply the hard graft

8. Finding the Access Point [MANAGEMENT]

  • Build the individuals towards achieving their goals

Stage 3 - Experiment

9. Review Constantly [STRATEGY]

  • Review the vision versus progress

  • Take the key course-correcting decisions

  • Make the revisions

  • Re-engage with the evolved strategy

10. 3% Reminder [PEOPLE]

  • Assess transformation delivery versus goals in value terms

  • Embed the changes made

11. Other Voices [OPERATION]

  • Review and improve

  • Re-plan, re-execute

  • Move at pace

12. A Close Examination [MANAGEMENT]

  • Study the working parts – the individuals, the processes, the organization

Stage 4 - Win [Overcome Failure]

13. The Science of Learning [STRATEGY]

  • Review the current and future environment and the climate

  • Maintain a clear line of sight between strategy and delivery

14. Red Teaming Transformation [PEOPLE]

  • Plan the next tranche of transformation – to refresh or rebuild

15. A Clean Sweep [OPERATION]

  • Review performance and identify trends

  • Target continuous improvement

16. Chemistry and Diversity [MANAGEMENT]

  • Tackle the marginal improvements

  • Realize all opportunities

  • Address all tactical issues

  • Drive out minor imperfections

Stage 5 - Rebuild

17. The Cycle Continues


  • Decide your scale of change. Refresh or rebuild?


  • Rebuild (if required)

  • Align resources

  • Deliver fundamental changes


  • Rebuild–Experiment–Win[Overcome Failure] again at a tactical level


  • Focus Resolve the areas that are sub-optimal

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