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When You Look Into the Mirror Do You Like Whom You See?

MirrorFirstly, I received many messages on Sunday asking if I was alive after the Richmond Tigers epic win on Saturday. And yes I am! What an incredible day it was and thanks to many of you for sending encouraging messages after last week’s blog. After waiting 37 years for that victory it was worth celebrating!

Secondly, I am assuming that many of you would be expecting my blog to be focused on the current AFL Premiers. And you could be right! However, this is not a gloating passage about my beloved team, it’s highlighting the important leadership lessons that have surfaced from what has been a huge turnaround for the coach and players alike.

I think we can often assume that turning around the performance of a business and team can take a long period of time. Depending on the size and gravity of the project, it can certainly take a lot of time. But sometimes, when you have some of the key fundamentals already in place, you have the strategy, the talent and you have the vision, some adjustments, tweaks and decisions can catapult you forward and create the desired success.

Here are five of the biggest leadership lessons that have emerged from the Yellow and Black Turnaround:

  1. You Don’t Like Whom You See in the Mirror – so you change it. 

    As a leader, if you are to create change it must start with you. And sometimes this can be a very confronting position to be in. And this is where Tigers coach Damien Hardwick started, particularly when his head was metaphorically on the chopping block last year. Hardwick admitted he had no choice but to change as a person and as a coach because the pressure was affecting him and the club. “I probably found out in a nutshell I was probably the worst thing for us at that stage,” he said (source Herald Sun). It takes courage to embrace that.

  2. Vulnerability Takes Courage 

    Stripping it all back, admitting faults and allowing your fears to be heard takes real strength of character. Vulnerability is a key leadership trait of the current era, one that was very much frowned upon in the past. However, admitting you don’t have all the answers, your not invincible, your not perfect and you need other people to succeed is true leadership. And when you lead the team in doing the same you cultivate a team of courageous leaders.

  3. When you micro manage you stifle performance 

    Stepping back and empowering rather than micro managing can be a big challenge for the control freak and perfectionist. However, when you encourage, coach and empower rather than manage, stifle and constrain you generate a new breed of players in your team.

  4. Inclusiveness Breeds Cohesiveness 

    When you embrace and get to know each individual and value what they bring to the team only then can you start to really be a team in every sense of the word that ‘plays’ for each other and for the cause.

  5. Stable Foundations in an Organisation Facilitates a Launching Pad for Success. 

    When you are clear on your vision and you believe the strategy you are executing to achieve that vision is right, you can remain confident when the waters get a little choppy. It can be easy, and often justified, to make changes when things aren’t working. However, if you have the absolute belief in your plan, stability can foster a certain confidence in the team that the baby won’t be thrown out with the bath water when times are tough and things will become uncertain and unstable. Stability (as long as it’s not conforming to the status quo) can breed confidence. And we all know what confidence can bring to a team.

The lessons that are coming out of not only the Tigers win, but businesses and organisations that are awarded for their success is aligned to what the fundamentals are to successful 21st century leadership. Inclusive, influential, empowering and enabling leadership styles are what will create greatness in people. But it must, must go beyond talk. It’s when the talk is walked by all involved that success will follow. It might be a good time to check in with the reflection in the mirror and ensure you like what you are seeing?