Grant Dalton must be a contender for Business Leader of the year.

His organisational achievement in the last three and half years has been incredible - it's a performance that CEOs and managers should aspire to.

And, as sporting organisations go, they don't get much more businesslike than the America's Cup.

Team New Zealand Limited was established as a registered company in 1993. It's currently chaired by Sir Stephen Tindall with a board that includes Dalton and several other businesspeople.


Unsurprisingly, as Dalton said himself after this morning's win, a lot of his success is down to his ability to put together a team.

It's a common theme with many successful business leaders, put the right people in place around you and the job is a whole lot easier.

It's something you'd expect to hear from the likes of Tindall or Graeme Hart.

In a sport like America's Cup racing though, it really all starts with funding. Without that you're sunk.

When you consider how grim it all looked in the months after the 2013 failure in San Francisco, just getting a team to the Cup in Bermuda is a success story.

After San Francisco Team New Zealand was given $5 million of taxpayer funding to retain staff while some tough calls were made about the future.

But the public disappointment with that campaign led to a Government decision to cease major tax payer funding (A technology grant was later made through the Callaghan Innovation).

In business terms you might call the revival of Team New Zealand a turn-around story.


But at that point the situation was so grim you might equally call the 2017 winning team a start-up. The sailing team - with the exception of Glenn Ashby - is almost completely new.

Tindall's involvement has no doubt been crucial. But as Dalton had to huge all his powers of persuasion to get the big sponsorship money rolling in.

Even then, as he told the Herald, Team New Zealand came so close to shutting up shop by October 2015 that the press release announcing the syndicate's closure had been drafted.

A last-minute international benefactor got them across the line.

So, as it is for many Kiwi companies, money was tight - particularly in comparison to rivals Oracle.

There are some major New Zealand companies that could learn a thing or two from Dalton's example.

At the press conference today Dalton describes a "brutal debrief" after 2013 where the team put together a 20-point plan of action.

He cites Kiwi businessman, and fellow Team NZ board member, Bob Field for the strategy.

One of the top points on that plan was that "we had to invest in technology on a pretty limited budget and we had to invest in the people that could provide that technology."

So many New Zealand businesses could relate to that dilemma. Dalton followed.

Then there was the sailing talent.

"We had to invest and get around this new generation of yachtsmen that were coming," he said.

"So I was just investing in the right people, giving them the responsibility and not shackling them to constraints."

As anyone with management experience will agree, this stuff is really easy to say but much harder to execute.

There is a fine balance between freedom and discipline to be achieved in any team.

Dalton in this America's Cup has proved a master.

If there were obvious issues in the last campaign they only highlight how remarkable it is to see a leader accept failure so honestly, address the fundamental problems and achieve success.

There are some major New Zealand companies that could learn a thing or two from Dalton's example.

Another business leader, Sir Ralph Norris, told Newstalk ZB this morning that Dalton was "very deserving of a knighthood".

He described how he handed over the running of the Team New Zealand to Dalton after 2003 - effectively putting him in charge of the business.

"He's been passionate, he's been determined and I don't think we'd be here today if it wasn't for Grant Dalton."