Rugby World Cup 2015, the world’s third largest sporting event based on ticket sales, is in full swing. Or rather it was, in our household, until Saturday evening when the Welsh rather punctured England’s ambitions. Combine this with my wife’s theatrical outburst on Sunday evening (“I am so over X Factor”) and, as you will appreciate, there is an extremely febrile atmosphere at home.

Moving swiftly on, there have been many attempts, highlighted by major tournaments like the Rugby World Cup, to translate the principles of sporting excellence into the commercial world, into life in general. Indeed there are plenty of former elite sportsmen and sportswomen who make a good living as mentors in this specialist field.

I am particularly fascinated by a stated key to success which seems to have taken hold in recent years within some rugby management and coaching circles. That is the reduced focus upon superstar players in favour of a so-called team culture. I find this interesting both because of the apparent difference from our national sport, football, in this regard and because it clearly conflicts with our current obsession with the power of celebrity.

Also, while the cry ‘there’s no I in team’ has been around for ages, I suspect that there has been greater belief in basketball icon Michael Jordan’s famous retort ‘but there is in win’!

So what has caused this shift of emphasis in the prosecution and promotion of rugby union? Maybe there just aren’t any big personalities at the top of the game? I’m sure that’s not the reason!

To this point, in an interview with Marketing Week earlier in the month, Nic Fletcher, head of marketing at English rugby’s governing body, the Rugby Football Union, was clear that the absence of player-centric marketing campaigns is a deliberate policy: “We don’t have a hero strategy where we try to glorify individual players. It’s all about the team and the effort and culture of the team.”

Beyond the domestic game, it was an enormous pleasure to re-read James Kerr’s book Legacy. 15 Lessons in Leadership, published in 2013. The clue is in the sub-title, What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life. Among enlightening glimpses into the corridors of New Zealand’s rugby powerhouse are the following: ‘Sweep the sheds’ (never be too big to do the small things that need to be done); ‘Go for the gap’ (when you’re on top of your game, change your game) and, a particular favourite, ‘No dickheads’ (follow the spearhead rather than pull against one another).

And on the subject of star teams over star players again it would seem that the All Blacks got there first. Another driver of their success, cited by Kerr, is simply ‘Pass the ball’ (leaders create leaders).

This reveals the transformation in the All Black’s management style over the last decade or so. The old school, centralised command structure was not working on the pitch and the decision was taken, in the words of former team coach, Sir Graham Henry, “to transfer the leadership from senior management members to the players…they play the game and they have to do the leading on the field.” Victory in the 2011 Rugby World Cup final suggests this worked.

As a view on effective management, this also chimes with what Jim Collins describes, in Good to Great, as Level 5 Leadership, namely where the senior executive “builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.” Level 5 leaders, in Collins’ view, “channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company…their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.”

In short, sporting success and business success can be achieved in a team-centric environment.

Of course there will always be flashes of individual brilliance which win rugby matches, new business pitches and huge contracts. But it is refreshing to see one of the world’s major sports embracing a culture where the team is pre-eminent and where the leadership function can both set the objectives and hand over responsibility, ownership and accountability, to create a team of leaders.

Pass the ball.