Leadership Matters (reprised)

What is it? Why is it so vital to success?  Leadership is a big buzz word in sport and seemingly getting bigger by the second.

Rugby in both codes is seemingly lacking at the top for a senior player or coach to set a standard with team rules and ruthlessly follow it through.

With the Australian Olympic team, let’s face it the swimming team’s behaviour was abysmal.  It was mystifying that individuals did not set their own goals.  They needed someone to say let’s follow me, and aim for an end result.  The lack of coaching direction was a disgrace.

Football-wise some clubs have lacked leadership seemingly for ever with St Kilda the prime example.  Their new recruit Luke Dunstan from the West Torrens Eagles was reportedly moved up the draft order due to his leadership qualities. St Kilda’s administration has lacked planning and come up with some amazing decisions.  Like not doing their research on Malcolm Blight and not knowing his non-negotiables.  Then sacking him 5 minutes later.  St Kilda’s actions over the last few weeks epitomise their entire history.

Richmond is another club with poor decisions over 30 plus years.  Sacking T-shirt Tommy after 4 flags.   Having 16 coaches during Sheedy’s reign at Essendon.  Could so many of them be duds?

To Richmond’s credit they are trying to rectify past errors.   With Brendon Gale in control there seems to be direction and more stability.  Football-wise they are desperately working behind the scenes to improve leadership with courses, and allegedly to try and make Cotchin more encouraging on ground.  I fancy Hardwick will follow through with threats this year, and aim to have no regrets and unconditional standards in 2014.
Port to their credit under Keith Thomas and Ken Hinkley, and after the tragedy of J Mac seemed to set standards and follow through with their non-negotiables.   They have good recruiting which the whole group encompassed, and this resulted in every one going in the same direction.  Will they be as ruthless when they are the hunted?

Michael Clarke is mystifying in that tactically I feel he is our best captain since Tubby Taylor but seems to lack communication skills off ground.   Let’s face it: Symonds, Katich, Hussey, Kreza and others all have one thing in common. Clarke has a lot to answer for!  The Homework drama.  Warner and his problems.   Yes, Gen Y is a problem, but I fancy Ian Chappell would have communicated far better and there would be less bullshit.
Leadership to me is setting non-negotiables for the group; leading from the front; not backing down and having good principles.  Blight was fantastic in this regard at Adelaide – not backing down and treating every one equally – like dropping Tony Modra.  This is where so many captains and coaches fall away and lack the guts to follow through with the same team rules with the so-called stars.

Leadership to me must start at the top; be ruthless; have courage; have goals; stick to them; and inevitably you get the best possible result from the talent at your disposal.  Eventually.

What is your definition of leadership? Who do you think is a good leader?



  1. Rulebook,
    I loved your last para about essential characteristics of good leadership.
    I would quibble a bit with some of your examples. Reckon you focus too much on the single strong ‘Messiah’.
    Leadership goes beyond the individual to culture, environment and incentives. I don’t reckon Ian Chappell would do any better than the current incumbents in a world of 20/20; BCCI and more money for 2 months of ‘hit and giggle’ than a year of tests. He’d probably give up and be playing baseball or golf instead (he excelled at both).
    And Ewen McKenzie is no mug in RU.
    Thanks for kicking off the debate.

  2. John Butler says

    In this age of professional systems aren’t we supposed to have moved beyond the idea of the authoritarian leader?

    Funny how human nature tends to thwart the best designed theories. We are contrary beings.

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Peter B I think , M Blight was unique in that he was ruthless team rules wise you led to the boundary you were off non negotiable that’s where Matt Robran was a better player than most people realized . The so called million dollar bench of Rehn , Smart and , Jarman . The leaving the coaches area early against , Richmond as players made the point if you could ignore his personal rants at you he was the best teacher ever . Simon Goodwin is very open that he learnt more from , Blight than any one else in his career . Remember that at , Adelaide he was taking over from , Robert Shaw who would have sunk , Popeye ( a , SA reference for you ) Blights influence on the crows flags is arguably the most influence of a single individual in history
    John I agree we have in general moved on from a authoritarian leader have just used individuals as examples , I don’t think it was a coincidence that , Hawthorn and Norwood had very strong leadership groups who had a huge amount of influence and deciding of goals making sure that every one was going in the same direction but also in having , Clarkson and , Bassett two extremely focused individuals and in the crunch it was there way or the high way . Clarke is the individual who fascinates me and yes harder to get guys to focus with the other riches on offer but I still fancy that , I Chappell , M Taylor and , S Waugh would be a mile in front of , Clarke re communication skills Thank you

  4. Insightful offering as always Malcolm. You really are a Crows man. Forget Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Mohammed, Buddha, Joan of Arc and Jesus. ‘Blight’s influence on the Crows flag is arguably the most influence of a single individual in history.’ It’s hard to argue with hyperbole like that.

    Leadership is a vast topic with so many aspects. Let’s stick to football for the time being. One thing that has always amazed me about football is that THE biggest contributor to leadership on-field is instructional voice and encouragement, and yet it is something that is just left to chance. Voice is the medium for any player on the ground, whether they are the grizzled veteran or the fresh-faced rookie, to be a leader, moment by moment, throughout the game. But where is the training, the skills development, the system, to foster and develop this critical skill? Coaches simply exhort their charges to open their mouths, lift their voice, get involved. It’s about as sophisticated as asking them to ‘try harder’. Instructional voice and encouragement does not come naturally to all. Not everyone is a confident extrovert. But all players in a team need to contribute in this area and in my view both the development of this skill and mandating a minimum level of performance are not given sufficient attention.

  5. Another great article.

  6. Malcolm
    As someone who attempts to lead a group of gen Y employees, the concept of leader ship is an interesting challenge. They tend to take any authority or correction as being a criticism or personal attack on their ability rather than an attempt to enhance their skills and improve as professionals. Surprising to many who have read my sprays, I don’t yell or rant, I try to provide guidance in a constructive manner. Yet they continually make the same errors and shit in your face making comets such as “I don’t tick that way or That doesn’t work for me”. Well sorry mate, I don’t give shit what works for you. If you want something that works for you, start your own business and make you own rules. At times I think it is laziness. At other times it appears that they genuinely believe things don’t apply to them.
    I see a similar thing with sports people who have very healthy egos and high self believe and resent any push to be better yet want to be spoon fed and rarely initiate any thing without direction or instructions. Why does a coach or captain have to tell a player that need to push harder to get to a contest. It should be instinctive, a core requisite, not workplace agreement. We reap what we sow and now have a generation of entitle pricks who have never be told no or that they are wrong. You can’t lead then, only heard them and they are worse than fucking cats

  7. Book, very insightful stuff. The parallels between managing a business, leading staff and managing and leading a sports team are strong and powerful. The successful teams in both sport and business worlds are the ones that get this stuff right. I’m glad you mentioned Keith Thomas – he constantly finds the balance between all the right human traits – some described above – but also others like courage, humility, leading by example, effective and regular communication, transparency, honesty, good governance, confidence and good judgement. Rest assured, with these guys involved the club will adapt well to the “big time” of being a regular finals contender.

  8. Leadership is situational. there is no one colour, there are many different hues according to the situation at hand

  9. Troy Hancox says

    I am a die hard Richmond fan.
    Leadership is a consortium of people, get the right group and success will follow.
    (well one hopes so). My team in particular have been mediocre for a long time, set goals of reducing their debt. (2013 has seen them remove this earlier than anticipated). I believe their turn around this year is solely because they have introduced a great group of leaders within, lead by Brendan Gale. Brendan was sick n tired of losing! I believe they are on the right path, but will they maintain & improve? This is what the leadership group must drive!

    I played lacrosse for Woodville from the age of 5. We had the one of the best juniors teams in most grades, but we fell down in our mens teams. I was playing in their league team, and HATED losing!! I remember at the end of the 1995 season, our AGM. The current board made the decision to play finals, and win a flag within 5 years. Something i wanted, and thought “NO WAY” with what we had. Our culture kinda accepted defeat. I remeber we’d be in the changerooms before games against top sides and some team mates would say things like “we’re up against it today, top team, hope we don’t get flogged. etc etc. The club poached a few hard nut leaders from other teams within the competiton. I remember being set personal goals during summer, getting fitter than ever before, practising with team mates in the “off season”…. anyhow, after 4 years of solid work and determination. Woodville LAcrosse Club won a flag afte being 45 plus years without. Then more success followed, and had won several others (Like Central District in SANFL)

    My opinion is you need leaders, goals. DIRECTION!
    This is the same at work. It’s the same at home. Parents are leaders to their children. Children respond to discipline, rules, boundaries.
    Let em run free and see what happens.
    Do our armed forces have leaders? answer is yes, of course.

    Leaders are important in all walks of life!

    Leadership is important. planning, sticking to you plns/goals, continually monitor the situation(s) and look for improvement. We have the same goals in the construction field (site manager for a builder). We plan, we monitor. Milestones must be met.

    Leadership is key to success.

    Great topic Malcolm


  10. Great discussion Rulebook. For what it’s worth I’ll throw my two bobs worth in!

    Great Leaders have an ability to communicate and instill a belief in their people to achieve a clearly defined outcome/s. The idea of understanding the ultimate goal (we want to win a premiership within 5 years) but breaking down to chewable chunks (increase fitness by training an extra session every week) is crucial.

    When I think of leadership I like to think of people close to me and the lessons they pass on:

    My Father – respect everyone and remember your good name.
    My First Boss – talk to people as your equal because at the end do the day everyone shits the same and are the same dickhead when they are drunk!
    My Football Coach – If you create habits of only going 60% in one part of your life sooner or later it it goes to other parts and you will be mediocre everywhere.
    My Mentor – Shit Happens!

    The idea that leadership changes with the trends of the time I don’t believe are correct. Leadership principles , like core values, are timeless. What may change are the techniques we have to use to communicate the message.

    I like to be inspired by people who do what they say and communicate clearly.



  11. Peter Crossing says

    Interesting debate, young Malcolm. Thanks for firing it up. A book in the offing? A rulebook maybe? There are different methods or styles of leadership – from autocratic to consensus to leadership by example. The best leader is able to recognise the approach to use in order to gain the maximum performance or input from individual team members. And the leader will also recognise how to use his/her own talents to best effect.
    Malcolm Blight and Tom Harley were leaders who achieved success at Geelong but with very different styles. Sheedy’s leadership has extended to a far wider sphere than just coaching a football team. And yet his efforts with the Bombers now seem muddied by the events of the past year.
    Frank Worrell was able to meld a disparate group of players from different Caribbean countries into a West Indies team that produced stellar individual performances in a way that Sobers or Kanhai could not quite manage. Was Bradman a better leader than Hassett.? Apparently the players enjoyed their cricket much more with the latter at the helm. I would submit that Brad Hadden is a good leader and he is not even the captain.
    There are many examples (Kerley, I Chappell, Brearley etc) and as Tom says, it is a vast topic. And it is not just the coach or the captain. The overall team/club/game management is also important. Just look at Cricket Australia.
    Take it easy.

  12. Nick Raschella says

    There are several style of leaderships consensus, authoritarian, collaborative, controlling, delegate etc etc.

    But what seems fundamental to success of all styles is a) a clear vision b) communicating that vision c) earning respect of who you are delivering your message to d) getting a buy in from individuals and the group e) being tough with implementation of ways to achieve your vision but also being flexible and adapt to changing circumstances without changing all the time and f) trust your subordinates which helps to inspire them to do things they probably wouldn’t do by themselves.

    I watched Charlie Rose ( of CBS 60 Minutes + Good Morning American, PBS and Bloomberg TV) interview Sir Alex Ferguson for an hour at the start of October. The interview was a wide expansive interview and talked about non sports issues like Ferguson’s interest in the US Civil War and politics. It came about because Harvard University Business school had just published their case study on Ferguson. In the case study and interview with Rose he discussed his eight leadership lessons that capture crucial elements of his approach. I wont discuss them here but I will list them.

    1. Start with the Foundation
    2. Dare to Rebuild Your Team
    3. Set High Standards—and Hold Everyone to Them
    4. Never, Ever Cede Control
    5. Match the Message to the Moment
    6. Prepare to Win
    7. Rely on the Power of Observation
    8. Never Stop Adapting

    Clarke suffers bad PR because he is supposedly a Gen Y cricketer. This attitude that Gen Y are lazy is crap. What Gen Y are is the Learning Generation. They are capable of learning but they want to learn fast and dream bigger than previous generations. They are capable of learning more and faster than previous generations.. They have a shorter attention span and get bored faster than previous generations so that’s why communication becomes even more important than ever. But that means the person delivering the message has to adapt their delivery style.

    As a Port supporter it has been fascinating to watch Ken Hinkley’s leadership style. From day 1 he said he will ruthless, wants his players to be ruthless and brave but he will put a lot of trust in his players and wants his players to put a lot of trust in each other and have a team first attitude. He had no problem delivery his message to a group of Gen Y players. he got buy in and inspired them to play like they haven’t played for several seasons.

    It’s been interesting watching Keating the last couple of weeks. Hawke had a consensus style of leadership where as Keating was the grand visionary who believed in Jack Lang’s words of having to get the sword out and that he wouldn’t amount to much unless he built up a healthy list of enemies.

    One leader wanted to be loved first, and respected second, the other wanted respect first and didn’t want to be loved. Both styles succeeded but both styles wore out their welcome.

    That is as important a part of leadership as any, but rarely gets mentioned. Good leaders know when their time is up.

  13. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Fantastic as always , Tom funny and so accurate leadership as a skill should be taught and practised more
    Troy Ithink , Richmond are interesting they are still well thought of the upper echelon and had few injuries this season the interesting bit is will they improve there leadership levels and will , Hardwick and the coaching panel actually follow thru with non negotiables and have no gold passes at selection only then will they reah there potential . Glad woodpile lacrosse club came of age and I agree re , Parenting
    POD Enjoyed your post and I agree re , Leadership in general while there are plenty of different methods and ways of communicating the standards are still basically the same
    Noughts Some great examples of good leaders it is a huge skill in working out the best ways to get the most out of each individual which
    lift to the blast who can’t handle it
    Papa Intetesting agreed re the styles and the , 8 leadership lessons are a fantastic starting point and , Sir Alex Ferguson is a fascinating and so interesting character with leadership qualities of huge volume . I think gen y is both in that yer they are the learning questioning generation but at times extremely lazy and a brilliant example in your last paragraph , 2 brilliant examples of both styles
    Thanks Folks

  14. I’ve always found the best leaders for me are people I’ve had respect for on and off the field. When it comes to real football, it’s the person that I’d be prepared to run through brick walls for.

    I once got into trouble at work once because I was asked for the 3 greatest leaders in history. I answered Richard the Lionheart, Martin Johnson and Adolf Hitler. You don’t have to agree with the decisions or manner of the act to appreciate someone as a great leader.

    On Australian cricket, Clarke clearly doesn’t have the respect of the players around him and how can you lead people who don’t like you. He’s certainly a better tactician though than what you’ve had previously.

  15. Grenville Dietrich says

    I think the reason that Queensland have been so successful over N.S.W in the state of origin series, has been the stability of there coaching staff (Leadership) with Meninga and Bennett during there time serving LONG stints, unlike N.S.W chopping and changing coaches during each of the afore mentioned coaches time every one two or three years…Daly, Stewart, Bellamy, Gould and probably others during just Meninga’s time

  16. I think point 8 of Fergie’s list is key. The captain-coach of the Abu Dhabi Falcons made the decision at the 3/4 break, when down by three goals, to move himself from the ruck to full forward position. It seemed a risky move, given that Doha’s strength was their midfield. What happened was a more or less neutral situation in the centre and more consistent/efficient results in the Falcons forward line. Result; win for Falcons.

    To change what had been a winning formula up to that point was critical in that moment.

  17. Good article, dont underestimate Darren Lehmann’s role in dealing with some of the different characters in the Aust dressing room.

  18. Interesting article Rulebook. In my eyes there is no 1 definition for a good leader. It depends on the circumstances. Some are born leaders and some can grow into the role.

    Michael Voss and Paul Kelly were standouts on the footy field as they had the respect of their teammates and lead by example on and off the field.

    In cricket I would argue that Allan Border and Clive Lloyd were the best. Lloyd was able to integrate different cultures and personalities into the most feared unit we have ever seen and Border took Aussie cricket from the doldrums and handed it to Mark Taylor at the top.

    Clarke is a good captain and now that he has the support of a fantastoc coach in Boof watch the Aussies flourish and work their way back to the top of world cricket.

  19. Wow Malcolm, am I the blessed only female in this debate?

    Lots of valuable comments from all – always food for thought.

    Whether it is in the business world, volunteer committees, charity groups, sports or events management (and I have been involved in each and every one of them over the years,) – egos and personality clashes will sometimes get in the way of good decisions and integrity. Plus once you add passion to the mix (as sport does), situations can be even more volatile.

    Re Swimming Australia – best if I don’t comment. Just check how may swimmers did a PB at the last Olympics ….

    Just like Shirley Valentine said: “… like the Middle East – there’s no solution”.

    Happily for this debate, we can enjoy the lead in the Ashes … for a few days at least :)


  20. An interesting article which raises many issues of note : modern day sport does constantly talk about team rules, team plans, benchmarks, non negotiables, players have endless meetings and planning sessions, sometimes it makes you wonder how they have any time left to actually play and develop their skills.

    Malcolm’s points on setting clear rules are the key, do teams really need 25 in a leadership group if they have a good leader / captain who sets clear boundaries and rules and follows them through irrespective of their playing stature.

    Its all very well to talk about team cultures etc, at the end of the day winning goes a long way towards helping to develop the right culture, and when a team is not winning then the leadership is needed to try and steer the team in the right direction, its not rocket science but in modern day sport with often bloated coaching panels and leadership groups there may be a tendency for too much talking and not enough action.

  21. Book,
    Some interesting observations here. I find it interesting that the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson are able to remain at the pinnacle of their “game” for such extended periods, notwithstanding their player list changes year in year out. The myriad personalities that come and go over such a lengthy tenure must test even the best leaders – but maybe this challenge is just what they need to keep them motivated to continue.
    I agree with Tom Martin – the importance of the instructional/encouraging voice on the field cannot be understated. I think this has also changed in recent times as the game (at almost every level of competition) is now scrutinised so closely by so many on the “bench” that often players are reluctant to be on field leaders. The team runner has become the quasi on-field leader – bringing out an instructive comment (or admonition!) after almost every play – setting up for the next play and acting as the “general”.
    The gradual evolution of “rotations” in the modern game of Australian Football sees almost every player (including the team “leaders”) rotating at regular intervals through the bench, receiving updates and advice on the phone from their line coaches. That certainly didn’t occur in my playing days – but now happens in every grade at SANFL level and is also becoming the norm in lower grades and country footy.

    As for cricket – I agree with Matt Clinch – Darren Lehmann’s ability to relate to the current playing group is fantastic . Such a different character to some of the more recent leaders within Cricket Australia – both on and off the field. We need to remember that he has been in charge for 6 Ashes Tests to date and only won one of them – but the signs are certainly positive. Which of course raises the question – how/why did SACA overlook this bloke for the role of Redback’s Coach? He and his off-sider Jason Gillespie should both have been retained in roles here, not lost from SA cricket.

  22. Rulebook, leadership is such a broad thing. It is a multi-faceted concept when implemented well. Whilst the “not-negotaibles” may be a common part of identifying the objective, the better leaders also recognise that requires an understanding of how to get the best from each team member. Ranting and raving will fire up some, whilst others will cower in the corner. Best leaders know who to fire up and who to cajole into action. In my expereince the best leaders have these traits : setting examples that inspire others to attain/follow, harnessing the positive contributions of each team member, nurturing the sense of team and unity.

    Whilst Clarke may be a good tactical leader, his other traits leave alot to be desired. His exchange with Anderson when on the brink of victory not only defies all of the traits of a good leader I mention, it reaffirms to many that he sets a poor example to the rest of the team.

  23. mickey randall says

    Good topic Rulebook. Poor leadership shares commons traits, but successful leadership can be varied as it is situational. Whilst Ponting was our official leader, I don’t think he functioned as such. The authentic leadership was provided by players like Warne, Lehmann etc. We’ll all be fascinated to observe the Australian team over the summer and see how Clarke performs.

  24. forgot to mention your criticism of the Tigers is spot on. Historically terrible but attempted to stabilise with a 5 year gig with Wallace. Right concept….wrong person.

    Benny and the boys are on path, Dimma has us in the hunt, and the tiger army is up and about. Think we’ve come a long way but still heaps to go.

    Think the Power have also turned it around in even faster time……

  25. The problem with sledging is that we don’t get all the byplay/lead up to it. I don’t think jimmy anderson has held back too much in previous contests.

    As soon as there is a reaction from either team, you know a blow has been landed. Then the best ploy is to smile and let the others rant and rave. If Clarke had of kept out of it, Bailey would have come out smelling like roses and jimmy like fertiliser. Clarke got soiled…

  26. Rulebook,

    For me, it is about the 3 C’s; communication, communication, communication. I know a lot of people will question this but being in touch with the vibrations of the universe helps a lot to. History has shown us that the great leaders of the economic, social and political world have had an integrity beyond themselves and in order to achieve change at a high level that integrity has to be at the highest level of consciousness. These people as we all know them, Martin Luther King, Mandela, Ghandhi delivered hope to their people and mapped a path for their next generation of followers. They had the understanding that there is not a desperate need to lead – they were content to simply point the way.

    Nevertheless, leadership encompasses so many, many other variables;

    • taking responsibility and not making excuses
    • being charismatic, and yes at times selfish, yet always humble
    • taking the blame at the coal face when there is danger around the corner
    • letting others take the credit by putting them at the front when there is something to celebrate
    • saying no, rather than yes
    • delivering positive outcomes, to transform the world so that generational change occurs
    • leading by example of your actions, not words
    • moulding of the consensus and not searching aimlessly
    • inspiring others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more
    • getting your ‘followers” from where they are, to where they have not been
    • possessing a capacity to translate vision into reality
    • knowing that silence can be your best friend
    • having the will to win, the desire to succeed and the urge to reach your full potential are the keys that unlock the door to lead

    In terms of sport, in particular football, leadership is diving for the loose ball, getting the crowd involved in the contest, getting other players involved and committed. It’s being able to take it as well as dish it out and that’s the only way you’re going to get respect from the players on both sides of the ledger. The great players of those halcyon days in the 70’s and 80’s such as Ebert, Robran, McIntosh choose that path. It’s interesting that they all led by example on the field, enjoying success at its zenith, yet their coaching careers were the polar opposites. I guess that the coach needs that X factor, (whatever that is?) to be mad enough to create and manage the stress from coaching football. In terms of cricket, Chappelli is the captain of captains, and revered by most of his peers. He had that X factor too, again, whatever that is?

    The recent furore within the disability sector (“Retarde”) taught me a lot about people again. I discovered that leadership is also about knowledge; and the real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance. This man who insulted people with intellectual disabilities by telling them to “harden up” has no perspective of what leadership is about. Arrogance and ignorance are tools of harm and he demonstrated all of that; a leader, he is not. He is all about the total self, and narcissism never leads the way to a better world. We, the disability sector have moved on and t-shirts with R-e-s-p-e-c-t-e are available at http://www.respecte.com.au.

    One thing for sure, leadership is not about your attributes, making speeches and being liked. It is about standing up, back and very still, delivering your message with integrity and then moving on. I have always lived my life with the notion that “it is better to ask some of the questions than know all the answers.” Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why. We all have a long way to go and there are many more questions to be asked. Ask for what you want. Never ask, never get is my motto now!

  27. Very insightful and thought provoking Book,

    I think you have it spot on with Clarky and the Aussies, lets hope we can snag this series!

    In regards to footy, I think the great teams of the last 10 years, Sydney, Hawks, Geelong etc. have built a great culture through implementing standard behaviours and non negotiables which everyone adheres to – the leaders enfore these.

    Jude Bolton is a great example of a leader enforcing team policy, one of the most prolific tacklers – putting the team first before his own performance.

    Once a team is successful then invariably this will come with the same level of on field enjoyment as well. Teams are limited to the pool of talent at their disposal, however a team with moderate talent but good leadership could potentially match a more talented team with no culture and poor leaderhip.

  28. Angela Dadds says

    I don’t profess to know a lot about leadership in sport, but I do know a bit about leadership in business, and I would make the bold claim that the requirements to be a successful leader in either domain aren’t that different. Perhaps it is more acceptable for a leader in sport to shout at their teams, although I know of some organisation where that’s also been the case.
    Anyway, in the role of coach to many business leaders, here’s what I’ve learned and observed…
    1. One of the hardest things for leaders to understand is what they are doing that isn’t working (I like the term blind spots). Their teams will often not tell them about these things because it’s too risky (or at least they think it is). These are often put in the category of ‘little things’ that aren’t worth raising, but in many cases, they can have a big impact. For example, the boss who always checks his/her phone during meetings, the boss who makes it uncomfortable when others disagree with him/her, the boss who socialises with just a few of his/her direct reports.
    2. Most leaders need to STOP doing things rather than learning more things to do, or doing things differently. Again the ‘little things’ like interrupting and always adding their opinion when the point has already been made can be extremely annoying for others and really hamper collaboration and open dialogue.
    3. Many leaders lack the ability to provide REAL feedback – the kind that leaves people crystal clear about what they can and need to do differently, without demotivating them. It’s quite a precise skill to have, and most people aren’t taught it, nor do they have good role models for themselves of what it sounds and feels like.
    4. A lot of leaders are applying management techniques when what people need is empowerment. i.e. for their boss to get out of their way and let them get on with the job they were hired to do. It’s a big transition to make, and again, not that many leaders who role model it well for others to learn from.

    I could write a book about this topic (and probably will one day) but I reckon these are the big four that often get missed amongst all of the other things that Leaders need to attend to.

  29. Book,

    Where does that place Wayne Carey? I always considered him a great on field leader. From all the reports he was North’s off field leader too. He would determine where the team drank after games and they would follow. He didn’t really lead disciplined off field behaviour like people expect sportsmen to do today.

    Interested in your thoughts.

  30. Caroline Russo says

    In my experience the best leaders are creative thinkers, with the courage to do things differently; problem solvers, strong but compassionate, brutally honest when they need to be. And they possess the ability to inspire.

  31. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    … and some people have (spritual) leadership thrust upon them – I give you “Bob Neil”

  32. Great topic, Mal. Things are often different from up close than from afar, so I’m shooting from the hip, but always thought Yabby Jeans was a great leader, because he gave a shit about them as people, too. Hodgy, of course, and, especially, even though I hate Carlton, Sticks seemed like a corker, and all his ex teammates confirm it with tales of what he was like in the rooms. Brad Johnno from the Doggies was another one. Shimma, and unheralded blokes like Ben Matthews. Often, if you ask the players, they will throw up a name you don’t expect. But, yeah, the list is endless, and that’s just in my chosen poison. Sport gives us these things.

    To play well is one thing. To lead is another.

  33. Marcus Trimboli says

    An interesting intangible one Rulebook.
    Excellent leaders set an example to follow and have excellent emotional intelligence. They use this to communicate and share ownership by empowering their team-members.
    A good leader doesn’t try to please everyone though. The non-negotiables you speak of are an interesting one too. They can be important, but not the ‘be-all and end-all’. Care must be taken with very few implemented – as they are ‘non-negotiable’ and have to be followed through.
    Michael Clarke’s leadership is obviously topical at the moment. He sets a very good example of how to play the game and lead tactically, but may not possess the emotional intelligence to bring a group of individuals together – that’s where Boof comes in. Hopefully.
    And Rulebook, I don’t have time for this, so no more interesting articles until after the silly season please!

  34. Marcus Trimboli says

    Another important feature is honesty.
    A great quote from Sheedy is, “players can smell bullshit”

  35. So can students – when you are teaching – Marcus. And insincerity. They are geniuses at it.

  36. Dino Vrynios says

    Charles Landry summed it up best whilst a the 2003 Adelaide Thinker in Residence

    “There are three types of leaders… there is the ordinary leader who simply reflects back those that they are representing… there is the innovative leader who jumbles the things around a bit in innovative patterns and there are circumstances where that is right… but there are moments of choice and opportunity where we need visionary leadership… the kind of leadership where the person projects a compelling story… where it touches people in their gut… in such a way that they are triggered into action…and that leadership gives away power… for every ounce of power they give away they generate a pound of influence.”

  37. An interesting debate you’ve started Rulebook..
    First and foremost for me is that the person annoited as a leader must be very adaptive with their communication skills. He or She must be able to confidently communicate with appropriate words and body language to each individual in their team. If they want to stand the test of time, they have to learn how people listen and tailor their communication to them. This applies to both the Coach/Manager and the Captain. The days of only leading by example are limited. Now a days most of the work is back of house..
    A successful leader knows how to concentrate on their own performance and maintain team harmony.
    A successful leader becomes “great” when they recognise how to use each team member right there in the moment, dictating the play of the game and having the clarity to make consistent successful decisions at critical moments.

    The mens 100m freestylers were too cool for school. The only reason the public became aware of what happened was because the senior women swimmers stood up for their younger teammates. One of those younger swimmers then had the confidence to perform very well.

  38. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Rick Neagle Neags while I enjoyed the six sausage rolls you kicked in the , 82 , GF for Norwood I am in awe of the job you are doing as , d4d , Dignity for Disabled Party President the sheer time energy and sheer will you bring to the role is amazing including the time parenting your own kids the patience you have and communication skills with
    Mitchell is amazing . I no who I will be voting for and urge the , Knackery to follow .
    Danny Wayne Carey wasn’t called the king for nothing he galvanised the whole group and as , Roo points out all 42 players used to go on the footy trip no exceptions
    He was the best player and chief organiser and in the so called professionalism of now I think we have gone too far don’t think what we did in the , Glamour side and get pissed , 8 nights a week together is the answer but in the last , 15 or so years we have gotten away from being real , TEAM MATES , to now the siren going and just about see you at training tomorrow so a happy medium needs to be found summing up , Carey was a great leader yes the way he left , North , left a lot to be desired but it can not be ignored what he did as a leader before his departure

  39. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Agree with what Haje had to say. Chris Scott started out as a Manager, ie were are on the right track, just need a steady hand on the tiller. But now he appears to be leading, setting his own new course.

    So ability to assess the situation and apply the correct approach, and constantly reviewing the same is important. Plenty of “leaders” have one approach, that might work for the situation they find themselves in, but can’t adapt.

    Take Denis Pagan, for example – did really well at U/19 level, then straightened up the Kangas after Schimma got the flick (identified key strength and developed game plan accordingly), but didn’t seem to bring much to the Blues.

    And how many of us have come across the type of “leader” that Dilbert has ?

  40. Daniel gilbert says

    I see Darren Lehman as a good leader he seems to bring out the best in those around him while allowing them to remain relaxed. Leadership has to be judged on how well you can get others to have faith in you and your systems. Leaders can come from anywhere without the particular leader Evan knowing he or she has this quality within.

  41. Malcolm Ashwood says

    There have been many brilliant posts all similar in many ways yet with subtle differences which can there for end with vastly different results in all aspects of life .
    Swish as we all no the spiritual leader in , BOB NEIL makes all the other people mentioned in various posts pale in to insignificance .
    Thanks every , 1 I enjoy the feedback for a topic which fascinates me .

  42. Inspired by Angela Dadds, as well as this article on mental strength (http://t.co/eyIW7XLkm1) I thought I’d list my top 10 characteristics that great leaders do NOT do:

    10. Gloat in the failures of their rivals (self righteous – think Maggie Thatcher)
    9. Talk about themselves in the 3rd person (think Gary Ayres)
    8. Be inflexible (think Gary Ayres)
    7. Lack integrity (think Nixon)
    6. Be disrespectful of others (think Pauline Hanson)
    5. Talk more than they listen (think John Laws)
    4. Abuse or belittle those who disagree with them (think Kim Jong Un)
    3. Fail to admit shortcomings or failures (think Hitler)
    2. Fail to inspire (think Bush)
    1. Fail to lead by example (“do as I say not as I do” – think Nixon)

    Apologies to David Letterman … I’m sure there are other more deserving traits out there.

  43. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    ‘Model’ – think you are being a bit hard on Ricky Nixon

  44. Book , Great Article, but I am first moved more to comment on one of the Posts :- Hilarious!
    Forget Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Mohammed, Buddha, Joan of Arc and Jesus. ‘Blight’s influence on the Crows flag is arguably the most influence of a single individual in history.’ It’s hard to argue with hyperbole like that.

    As to Port, thanks mate, it must have hurt you admit – and write – that Port have a Great combo in Hinkley and Thomas.

    Maybe I am a bit of a control freak in my own Small Business operations, but I think ultimately it is best – and simplest when there is only 1 identified ‘top” Leader in the Organisation.

    Lastly, I’d like to say I agree – Sport, Business, Non-Profit, Army, etc., the Great Leadership traits are largely the same – but I’d also like to add one – predictability – Staff, Footy Team Members, etc I think respond best when a Leader is consistent and predictable, but of course, one’s message cannot grow stale and you must keep an open mind to new ideas and suggestions…


  45. Rick Bizz Sarre says

    Book’s ruminations are obviously topical or else they would not have excited so much comment. My thoughts: Leadership qualities begin and end with respect for the team and its individual players. The worst leaders are the ones who are there for self-glory, and who bark out instructions in your direction generally just to remind you who’s the boss. The best are the ones who can sit down with each member of the team and talk about their unique contribution to the overall effort. That’s the captain / coach that anyone will go to the barricades for. A great leader is one that can rise above petty name-calling too. As much as every one of us probably would have wanted to give it to Jimmy Anderson with a verbal spray (and defend Test debutante George Bailey), Michael Clarke should simply have pointed to the scoreboard, and not to descend to schoolyard taunts. Sorry, Michael, that’s not leadership, that’s petulance.

  46. Malcolm,

    Great post and comments from all.

    My view, on team sports at least, is that success does not come from a great leader/coach, but comes from an organisation that has a great culture. If one looks to the teams that have struggled for on-field success, you will invariably find an organisation that doesn’t have a winning culture or has a stuffy, keep the status quo culture. Examples in AFL are the Saints, Tigers, Melbourne and to a lesser degree, Bulldogs. In cricket, one need look no further than SACA.

    How many times do we find ourselves (SA Supporters) saying, why don’t they appoint Boof as the coach, or give Ryan Harris a contract, or cut the number of district teams? It seems that the solution, according to SACA, is to import some new star from interstate/overseas and this will be a panacea for the woes that ail them.

    You can import the greatest coach to a club, but if that club doesn’t have a culture of excellence, then it counts for nought – think Blighty, Alves, Watson, Lyon at St Kilda. I reckon a great coach is not really a master tactitioner, but a person with genuine interest in his/her people. They don’t want to make champions, they want people to make the maximum out of their natural talent. When you get 18 reasonable players in a team playing at 100% of their ability, there will not be a team that can beat them.

    Having played a bit of low level sport, I always was amazed at how my team, with a bevy of natural talent, couldn’t beat a bunch of scrubbers. I think, in hindsight, it boiled down to the scrubbers getting the best out of themselves and consequently playing for each other, all motivated by a leader who wanted them to achieve their potential.

    The greatest example of this culture change came at Geelong FC. A perennial mid to low table team had a complete review from the President down. They appointed Mark Thompson as coach and persisted with him in the early years. They have become a powerhouse in their competition. Is it because of Bomber Thompson? I think not. It comes from a culture of expecting excellence, of employing the best fitness, marketing, sales people etc. This filters down to the players.

    Bomber Thompson is now at Essendon – look a the results. The coach can’t do it alone.

  47. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Interesting and so correct how many people have commented re Darren Lehmann as natural as a leader I have ever met his qualities are endless , as poor example of poor leadership lack of direction and common sense resulted in , Lehmann and , Ryan Harris lost to , SA cricket . The change and now having , Andrew Sinclair in charge is a huge step in the right direction

  48. Richie McCaw

  49. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Poor leadership I feel generally involves dishonesty , Selfishness and quite often looking after one self and not the overall well being and whole picture perfect examples of this are , Adelaide FC re , The Tippett affair and obviously , Essendon .
    This also manisefts itself in the draft where clubs will take the soft option of the player who will be ok but not take the hard option of the player they need to become a genuine, Premiership threat there are several clubs and head of recruiting guilty of this in the case of , Heath Grundy
    A superb post by , Marc D above provides similar info re the , SACA and about changing the culture which is another aspect of leadership
    Thanks Folks for the feedback I find it a fascinating subject

  50. stephen double aa says

    with out a good culture , no amount of strategy or talent will succeed.
    and culture is built by strong leadership. great article rulebook.

  51. Great topic book I think you only have to look at the successful stdes of the last few years , Hawthorn with , Hodge , Mitchell . Sydney with the whole bloods culture
    Geelong with Harley Ling Scarlett to no how impotent strong leadership with goals , standards plays a huge part in the end result

  52. Rulebook – for what it is worth…
    Leadership is about setting a standard and not expecting anything of your team mates that you are not willing to do yourself – lead by example. Leadership is about developing a positive team culture based on mutual respect and a relentless drive toward a common goal. Leadership is about working together with all team mates (empowerment) and recognising you do not have all the answers. The empowerment of your team mates encourages a responsibility for their actions and therefore being accountable. Leadership is about treating everyone equally but recognising there are varied characters and personalities who need to express their individual flair and instincts inside the ultimate team vision. Leadership is about not being afraid of making mistakes, being able to accept you are not be above criticism and be prepared to swallow your pride in order to move on. Leadership is about seeing the good in people and focussing on the positives and the things you can control. Leadership is making sure time management is spot on. Leadership is about working hard to continue to earn your place in the side. Leadership is about taking responsibility of the team and its performance when you win or lose.

  53. Nice work Book. I generally agree – all the great leaders, on and off the field are about team first and accountability. Easy to say, but very hard to actually put into practice. Sir Alex got rid of Beckham, Van Nist, Ronaldo, etc – cause he felt it was best for the team – those guys were in the prime when he did it to. Swans have an amazing leadership culture from the board down to the team. As for the Crows Board last year, fark knows how all that happened there but zero accountability. On field, there’s also the intanglibles of character: Jonathan Brown, Sticks Kernahan, MIchael Voss, Sir Dog Muir, … people just want to follow them because of their actions and selfless team first mentality. Clarke is a great batsman, brilliant captain (better than Tubby..?) but comes across as a bit of a FIGJAM dickhead. I read somewhere that Steve Waugh’s team would have smuggled heroine into Singapore if he asked them to. Same can’t be said of Clarke. Keep debating Book.

  54. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Lovely stuff Tom Kat totally agree re crows board and zero accountability I add totally inept and unforgivable . I also totally agree re , Sir Dog Muir and would add captatn uggs in , Sir Tom Martin and of course the greatest leader of all , Sir Chocka Bloch
    Go the , Singapore based , Greys of , The Worlds Greatest FC ! Thanks Tom Kat

  55. I’ve always been a big fan of Tubby Taylor as he had the ability to make people feel better about themselves just by looking at him. Never underestimate the power of the “common touch” (and I don’t mean the type that gets school teachers in the Sunday Mail).

  56. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Lazy Great post
    TC aka , Stomtrooper of love v amusing great line
    Leadership wise re cricket is also about a individual sizing up the moment having the ability to relax play with in there capabilities read the situation and then play sensibly not thinking of the end result but the process of getting there easier said than done
    Would love other peoples thoughts ?

  57. Cam Duncan says

    Some interesting questions posed, Mal but the short of it for mine is leadership regardless of sporting, business or personal is all about setting an acceptable standard and the ability to get the buy in of those involved.

    The effective leaders that I have experienced are not always the best at the task at hand but engage me to want to perform my role and graft to achieve the end result.

    Leadership requires the instinct to challenge forgoing personal objectives in order to work toward a common goal.

  58. Leadership is simple.
    Getting the best output from your available resources on a consistent basis.
    What makes up a good leader?
    There is no right answer but communication would be the key. Others like confidence, decisive decision-making and experience are important.
    My pick in the AFL is Jobe Watson.

  59. Peter Schumacher says

    I think that leaders earn respect by their knowledge and actions for which actions they take complete accountability and responsibility, basic human decency and honesty, their ability to successfully delegate, and very important for me, to give credit where and when it is due.

    I practically cry when our political leaders of all persuasions will not take responsibility when found to be rorting travel claims or breaking basic and well understood promises. How is this leadership?

  60. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Peter and great point re politicians it is no wonder that we all take poltics with a grain of salt , if a politician actually displayed some leadership , honesty and admitted there mistakes how much better would we be ? !

  61. My favourite quote regarding leadership comes from an interview with Dick Winters and another member of Easy Company in the 101st Airborne from WW2. It was made into a mini series called band of brothers. Dick said ‘When you are a leader, you lead the way. Not just on the easy ones. You take the tough ones too.’ It doesn’t get much tougher than jumping behind enemy lines on D Day. When describing Winter’s leadership one of the soldiers said ‘He never thought about not being first, or sending someone in his place. I don’t know how he survived. But he did.’

    So how does this transfer to the sporting arena? From my point of view I would say that it is easy to lead when things are going well. Team harmony is a cake walk when the wins are piling up and everyone is enjoying themselves. It becomes harder when a side is struggling. Keeping morale up, trying to infuse confidence in rattled players and staying positive while sticking to the plans that have been put in place is a difficult job. That’s when you find out if you have true leaders.

    This of course must be coupled with on-field leadership and performance. The ‘captain’s knock’ in cricket is a great example where a leader can lift his team in high pressure situations against quality opposition, setting the example for teammates and bringing hope to what had seemed a hopeless situation.

    I can’t think of a better test of leadership credentials than what Paul Roos is facing this season down at Melbourne. An acknowledged motivator and creator of outstanding team culture Roos has monumental hurdles to clear in order to make that side competitive. But if they start to play for each other, rather than themselves, if they run back to help their mates as hard as they run forward, if they are prepared to bleed and sweat and sacrifice the way the swans did in 05 and 06 then who knows?

    In sport, if everyone pulls in the same direction and cares more about their team than they do about themselves. Anything is possible.

  62. Great passion as always Rulebook! The skipper leads from the front and sets the tone with their actions/ attitude. Will they get it right every time? Of course not, but setting the example to respond from failure is part of it too.

  63. Malcolm.

    Timely piece considering the Dogs choice of captain in ’14. Griffen is undoubtedly the best player at the Western Oval, but what impact will taking on the (official) role of team leader have? Certainly hope it doesn’t diminish his effectiveness, fingers crossed.

    Keep up the great work.


  64. Dan Sergeant says

    Well written Book.
    Leadership can take many forms, but I think that it can be all tied together with one statement. Good leaders don’t tolerate dickheads and bullshit.

  65. I agree with a few points however what about the old cliche, ‘action speaks louder than words’? It is not just about what is said but also what is done. Most people think that leaders are the best player in a sporting team however that is not always the case. One of my favourite leaders and one that I aspire to be like is former Geelong captain Tom Harley. With a team of superstars in the likes of Ablett (before his move), Bartell, Kelly etc. It would have been easy to look past the leadership however it is never easy to control a group of superstars who are constantly looking to strive past the other which i think Tom Harley did better than anyone else. Harley was always leading on the field as well as off, a bad word never spoken about him! It is not just about the actions however, yet the ability to keep a team motivated which was managed through Geelong’s reign in the late 2000’s.

    The best leaders are well rounded people that hold a range of qualities however it’s also not just about the captain but the support staff! It’s about setting an example that all leaders being the captain, coach, and anyone else involved can follow.. This example will flow to the rest of the team and before long it sinks in as the norm.

    However if these examples and rules aren’t followed, one of the toughest jobs of leadership is punishment.. It’s not just about punishing them for the sake of it though, butntonfind a punishment that is going to make them want to work harder next time notmto break the norm. Each punishment should be individualised based upon what is going to make them work next time.

    In conclusion, leadership is a whole body that is going to work together to set an example though actions and words for the rest of the team to follow!

  66. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Very well written Matty Ray you are a deep thinking very well rounded and extremely mature outlook and I totally agree re Tom Harley a quality individual in all aspects
    Scrote good point and you wonder if your point of not tolerating dickheads and no bullshit is part of , Englands problem yes tactically , Clarke is miles in front of , Cook I think we all realize that but the leadership provided by , Lehmann and , Clark compared to the lack of by , England has played a massive part in this one sided series

  67. Edward Thomas says

    Interesting read. Not unlike the saga that went on during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. When Patrice Evra called the manager at the time a F**kwit. Players went on strike and costed the world class team a spot in the knockout stage all due to poor leadership. It seems that it is essential in today’s sporting scene that leadership is throughout the organization.

  68. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great Point Edward the more I think about is good leadership is vital poor leadership is even worst end result disaster whether it be sport , business life in general

  69. Chris Miller says

    To me, Leadership is about knowing your assets and using them to their best abilities, but you must also reflect that in your own attitude to what you do. You must be willing to do the tasks that you want others to do, not just sit back and dictate or you will lose the respect of those you are trying to lead. You need to go above and beyond if you want others to do the same.

  70. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Leadership fascinates me since I wrote this M Clarke seems to have come of age this has had a lot to do with Boof his influence has been huge with old fashioned values with making every 1 stay and have a chat in the rooms after a days play yes not always over a beer unlike the past but sorting out any drama before it escalates . In Footy we have had 1 of the elite leaders play v well in his 200th game last night . Maxwell has been magnificent in this aspect in his career and even more impressive that he is not a naturally gifted footballer. I happened to watch part of last nights game with a Richmond
    employee who made the point either side would have loved to have Maxwell playing for them in the comedy capers game of Thurs night his leadership would have been enough to get either side over the line . The crows are missing Van Berlo for his direction , even the mighty hawks were lost for a while v Ess without Hodge and Mitchell
    There are v few natural good leaders in any aspect of life the good ones influence can not be under estimated

  71. Rick Kane says

    Hi Rulebook

    This is a good piece to re-read, following my attempt to understand how the Hawks stopped in their tracks on Friday night after Hodge left the ground.

    Man, you certainly triggered a discussion didn’t you? Leadership is a very important quality, yet it continues to be difficult to define and even more difficult to live up to.

    I didn’t read all the responses but of the ones I did Rick Neagle’s thoughts came closest to mine.

    He says:

    It is about the 3 C’s; communication, communication, communication. Also, great leaders have had an integrity beyond themselves.

    Nevertheless, leadership encompasses so many, many other variables;

    • taking responsibility and not making excuses
    • being charismatic, and yes at times selfish, yet always humble
    • taking the blame at the coal face when there is danger around the corner
    • letting others take the credit by putting them at the front when there is something to celebrate
    • saying no, rather than yes
    • delivering positive outcomes, to transform the world so that generational change occurs
    • leading by example of your actions, not words
    • moulding of the consensus and not searching aimlessly
    • inspiring others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more
    • getting your ‘followers” from where they are, to where they have not been
    • possessing a capacity to translate vision into reality
    • knowing that silence can be your best friend
    • having the will to win, the desire to succeed and the urge to reach your full potential are the keys that unlock the door to lead

    In terms of sport, in particular football, lead by example on the field.

    I particularly liked these observations:

    The recent furore within the disability sector (“Retarde”) taught me a lot about people again. I discovered that leadership is also about knowledge; and the real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance. This man who insulted people with intellectual disabilities by telling them to “harden up” has no perspective of what leadership is about. Arrogance and ignorance are tools of harm and he demonstrated all of that; a leader, he is not. He is all about the total self, and narcissism never leads the way to a better world. We, the disability sector have moved on and t-shirts with R-e-s-p-e-c-t-e are available at http://www.respecte.com.au.

    He says, “leadership is about standing up, back and very still, delivering your message with integrity and then moving on”.


  72. Peter Flynn says

    B Cook

  73. Luke Reynolds says

    Very interesting topic and have loved reading all the comments.
    Leadership is more important than ever these days. The “everyone gets a ribbon” attitude has bred an entire generation who need strong leadership to push them to achieve. A good leader is worth their weight in gold.
    Was wrapt for Nick Maxwell Saturday night, deserved to play well in his 200th. From the outside was far from the obvious choice to take over the captaincy from Scott Burns but they got that very right and is highly regarded by Collingwood people.
    Scott Pendlebury showed his leadership qualities with a wonderful, match winning performance after being down early in the game.
    M.Clarke is wonderful on-field captain but he and the team have obviously benefitted from the unity off field provided by the great man Boof. Pretty sure we wouldn’t have had such a great Summer if Mickey Arthur was still our off field leader.

  74. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Leadership is vital is it a coincidence that Carlton and Richmond in particular are seemingly lacking in quality leadership in so many areas ?

  75. James roder says

    Interesting article mate.

    I note by the age of some comments that it was written before the summer ashes/south Africa?

    I think what that’s shown, in Clarke is that leadership us an always developing skill or trait. At this point as observers we’d have to say whatever has gone down with Warner has worked

  76. James roder says

    An example closer to home might be G McIntosh at PNU. Brought tremendous discipline and success to a club that had a desperate need for both

  77. `its lonely at the top`………………….but that`s where it starts in Business…Home or Sport………….good Leadership(and all it offers) is not a secret………………known requirement for success for decades…..but it is very very hard to find…and maintain??…………..well written article on a `serious life problem`… at present??

  78. Daniel Weekley says

    Not sure how well players can continue to respond to rant and rave style of leaders such as Hardwick. There may be a time and place for it but surely it loses its power and wears thin with players and supporters quickly. Good leadership is being able to respond to what works most effectively

  79. Tom fields says

    Agree completely with what ken Hinkley has brought to the club. Brad gotch coaching in in his first year at south Adelaide has brought in very similar and has led the way brilliantly. And it has shown with south adelaides early form this season. Everyone must be on board searching for a common goal…

  80. Good Leadership
    Stands ground ( when it matters ) , flexible , can admit failure and being wrong
    Recognise and work to individual strengths , constuctive not destructive , fair and even to all , inspiring teacher , supportive trainer
    Bad Leadership
    Wishy washy , stubborn , self righteous , my way or the highway , cruel motivate thru
    Criticism , play favourites , arrogant boss
    Overall more than one way to measure success

  81. Malcolm as much as you say leadership starts from the topp , I have found that leadership in 35 plus teams comes from many areas and many coaches, managers
    support staff etc and it is up to their supervisors to be able to accept ideas , suggestions
    positions etc and take them to the top ( ie committee management etc )
    THEN it can come back down again , however it is often a fact that the correct structure is not in place even with a good leader for this to happen with any regularity
    Just a small point , a very interesting article and no surprise so many people have commented well done

  82. I love cricket , I like football .I don’t like the way sport has been taken out of sport .
    The game is a industry . We go to watch our grand sons play cricket and football and am disappointed in the way some of the coaches speak to the kids and how some of them in my eyes coach for their glory and not for teaching sportsmanship to the kids .
    TV has a lot to answer for some of the way there shows show the bad behaviour of many of the players. . Anything to sell papers or tv prime time . Overall I agree with what you have written , well done !

  83. Absolutely. If you want good performance it has to start at the top – good leadership will bring the team together, and leaders setting standards ensures everyone is on the same page. A united team is stronger than onenin disarray, but that goes without saying doesn’t it. There is one thing that needs to be acknowledged, and that is that sometimes even the best leaders can’t contain those individuals who, at any level, believe being the star player will take them further than working with the team and respecting the leaders.
    Modesty as a leader is important, particularly with successful teams to keep them grounded. It falls on the leaders to figure out whatnworks best for their players bithnasna team and individually, and an leader who understands the assets and limitations of theirnplayers, and also empathise with them, will earn the respect that is required to allow them to lead well. A team could have a leader with fantastic leadership qualities, but if the coach or captain can’t click with the players and earn the respect those qualities won’t come through.
    It also seems increasingly the case they coaches and captains are dismissednif at first immediate success isn’t seen, maybe they need more time to work with the team and have a chance to earn that repect and grow as a leader rather than being dismissed. Success isn’t always immediate under a new leader, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come.

  84. Matthew Wojcik says

    You only have to look to guys like Mark Bickley and (hate to say it) Nick Maxwell who, while not the most skillful players and would struggle to make the best 22 on merit, are both premiership captains which was no fluke as they got the best out of the other 21 on the field.

  85. Sean philpot says

    Interesting read rulebook, the comments that follow are also insightful. I think leadership qualities are often overlooked or underrated in comparison to someone’s stuperstardom, not only from a captaincy point of view but also a coach. Just because your a superstar player, doesn’t always credit you as a great coach, leader and motivator. I feel the value of a coach and his leadership is the basis of a club, boof Lehman was a great example as he has changed the side due to the culture he has developed with in a group of young men. It’s interesting that even the strongest and smartest of footy brains could struggle in a leadership role if they haven’t got the ability to speak up, a leader has to have confidence, drive and a willingness to succeed that is contagious among his group. A leader is the fundamental basis of success, both through acts on and off the field, a superstar team (that is lead well) will always beat a team full of superstars (that are fractional and self centred).
    You have raised a very important topic book.

  86. Oscar Leonard says

    As a young Gen Y player I can see the struggles and definition of a leader in today’s age. The professional nature of football now sees leaders as the guy who can deliver the structual roles delivered to him by his higher members. Leadership to me is not someone that can deliver their orders from his instructors but to acknowledge when his mates need a lift and to be on at all times on the field. Intriguing read Rulebook!

  87. Eddie Dadds says

    Leadership is and always will be for me about setting an example on and off the field. The best leaders are the individuals that will do their role, and live up to their own expectations no matter what the circumstances or what others are doing around them. Footballers like Gary Ablett and Jobe Watson are great leaders not because of what they say to their own players or to the media but because of what they actually do. That is why Michael Clarke will never be as good a leader as Steve Waugh; Clarke says all the right things on the field and to the media but its what he does off the field that makes his leadership questionable. Great article Rulebook.

  88. Leadership is indeed very valuable. But I do feel that for team sports a committed group of leaders is required. Take Cotchin and Murphy for example, great players and seemingly very good leaders, but lack the support of their fellow leaders when times get tough.

  89. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Some further great comments , EJ I totally agree leadership comes from number of different people from with in a club not just the official leaders . SRS yep modesty is a vital part of good leaders . Sean spot on fractured teams fall apart v quickly .
    Eddie agree leadership is very much both on and off field . Oscar a good leader almost has a special ability to pick the moment when every one needs a lift from the gun players doing something special and virtually telling everybody to jump aboard .
    WO WO it is no coincidence that , Bickley and , Maxwell are premiership captains both excel in the one percenters which inspire others . Pup Cotchin good player but too negative towards team mates on the ground he is a work in progress . Thanks folks

  90. Martin Rumsby says

    An important topic, a thought provoking article from you and some considered and insightful comments from others. Well done Malcolm.

    Moving from the international and national levels to state level, it is interesting to compare the leadership of Trevor Hill and Nathan Bassett at Norwood Football Club. Trevor undoubtedly knows the game and his success at SAAFL level is testimony to that. However, he struggled to achieve success at Norwood. The directions about game plan and so on were coming from him, but were not uniformly followed by the players. When Nathan took over the coaching role at Norwood he spent a lot of time establishing a distributed leadership model. He had several meetings with the leadership group of players. Collectively they developed a motto – passionate, strong, committed – that informed their actions. Nathan’s messages were being re-enforced on-field through the leadership group. Three grand finals and two premierships during his four year tenure is evidence of the success of his approach.

    Ben Warren is said to be using a similar approach to Nathan Bassett. The start to his coaching tenure hasn’t produced great results so far (and neither did Nathan’s). It will be interesting to watch the progress of the Redlegs this year and speculate about the effect of other factors such as player quality and the personality of the leader impact on leadership style.

  91. Braden Collins says

    Leadership is a vital cog in all successful teams, not just from the captain of the team but from the coach and they must work together. Prime example is the combo of Darren Lehman and Michael Clarke in the australian cricket team. All of a sudden the players know they have the backing of both coach and captain and then hence the improvement has been seen

  92. Alex Howes says

    Leadership is crucial for the synergetic workings of a successful team, whether it be on the field or in the workplace. Leadership needs to come from the top, as it can then flow through the team, resulting in a successful performance on game day. Any team without a core leadership that is widely respected will struggle to achieve any success.

    A prime example of leadership moving through a team is with the current adelaide crows team, where their captain VB has been outed through injury but the responsibility has been taken up by two second tier captains in Sloane and Dangerfield. It will be interesting to see how their leadership skills move down through the team in the coming weeks and if the club has successfully initialted a well oiled leadership group to carry the team.

  93. Leadership is hard to define but a good leader needs to have respect from his fellow players as well as the opposition. They need to set a good example both on and off the field and good leaders have people aspiring to be like them

  94. Spot on rulebook

  95. An excellent perspective on leadership. Strong believer that on field masters most and the best leader will always rise on field

  96. Totally agree with this. Any team with Leaders that lead by example with actions off the field and on the field whether it be with voice or infield actions.

    Wes Legrand is the best leader on and off the field I have ever seen. He looks immaculate, talks like a gentleman and on field he is an inspiration.

  97. Malcolm Ashwood says

    I am god!

  98. 50 danger paddy says

    Leadership is 50 shades of grey

  99. Malcolm Ashwood says

    I learnt not too leave my I pad lying around next to , Ad Uni FC ladies side aka known as , Bob Neils girl guides after they have had there , 1st win of the season
    Go the girl guides !

  100. Super Dazz says

    Interesting stuff Malcom.
    Leadership for mind as the name suggests is the domain of the few, the shining exponent of any given virtue. This is the way of the world. Good teams as they say have leaders throughout but the all exhibit different specialties. It’s how these individuals come together and express these qualities, encouraging and inspiring others to lift their own minimum standards and pull together towards the common goal that ultimately determines the success of the group. Leadership is about the individual of that there is no doubt. It’s the team and herd mentality that provides the context that allows it to be recognized and applauded for its uniqueness.
    Striving to instil leadership qualities in all and sundry does seem a bit naf and self-defeating, in some ways diluting and cheapening the effects of the genuine article. After-all even the Chinese communist party has a single leader and in the words of that cult classic, the highlander. “There can only be one”.
    Now recognizing, accepting and acting on “Responsibility” that’s the stuff that really binds and drives larger groups.

  101. Shayne Shepherdson says

    Insightful as always, well reasoned and thought out.

  102. Alex Brown says

    One of the biggest misconceptions about leadership is that the best player and the smartest should be the captain. While being smart is certainly a quality you look for in a captain, and obviously you would like a talented player to lead your team. I would argue that the respect of the other players is far more important to a team, because a lack of respect leads to disunity. I would argue Michael Clark’s reign as captain of the australian cricket team has been one of the worst, obviously talented players being left by the wayside on the grounds they don’t fit the team mentality, Katich is a prime example of that, a player who was the most stable and reliable in our top order suddenly not offered a contract, indisgressions from many members of the team reeks of one thing, poor leadership qualities.

    In my opinion leadership is more about how you harness the respect of your team, rather than skill.

  103. Nick Hay says

    Certainly leadership is important which is why I am perplexed with the Adelaide Crows continuing with Steven Trigg. He took it upon himself to create the Tippett contract, and paying the player outside of the salary cap. Surely this breech of rules and non disclosure to the club should have seen him packing his bags. Come on Crows, the club should be stronger and cut this Individual from its ranks. There are numerous better candidates than this man, surely.

  104. your article makes a lot of sense and a good read and I totally agree on the ian chappell part

  105. Great article Malcolm Ashwood..most leaders are brave and bold and will always push the limits for success. Failure inspires success in most cases also

  106. Dave Flanagan says

    Nice Work Malcolm… I also believe that “leadership” is NOT A POSITION it is merely a way of encouraging people into doing things differently.

  107. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks folks it is a interesting subject ! Dazz insightful love your thoughts
    Alex there is some truth in what you are saying , Katich getting dropped was poor in so many aspects ! Clarke had communication problems and a lack of awareness re people to say he and aust cricket needed and has benefited from ,Darren Lehmann is a massive understatement ( Boof is superb in both areas ! )
    Nick I totally agree afl football is a multi million dollar industry the incompetence in this whole , Tippett affair has been mind boggling incompetent not the , 1st and won’t be the last club to have secret deals but to leave a paper trail was amazing trouble is how many people were actually involved and escaped punishment ? ( Phil Harper was the 1 I felt sorry for ) I agree also that ultimately the buck had to stop with , Trigg and he should have walked it was poor leadership !
    Andy thanks mate and I Chappell was a superb leader
    Danny yes push the limits but not like , Hird pushing the limits in to the next universe that was appalling leadership but overall I agree with your point
    Dave interesting point thank you

  108. another good article, malcolm.

    your leadership around the AUFC inspires all!

  109. I do agree there has obviously been some leadership issues across many sports in Australia that have evidently harmed the progress and success of many teams. I think you need to be able to take into account others opinions but need the strength of leadership to back your own decisions to lead others and yourself. As it was so eloquently put in the latest Game of Thrones episode, “once you start questioning your own decisions, you’re all f*@ked,” – whether you agree with this is another matter though but mainly you need to lead by example… Good read rulebook.

  110. In a football sense there are two types of leaders – one who leads by actions and the other by voice. Example – Ablett leads on the footy field with sublime skill that can change a match whereas Jobe Watson gives direction and motivation that helps lead his team. Both are equally as effective but no one is the same. Talent usually helps signify a leader but I reckon a leader isn’t just chosen because he is the best player in the team. He needs to be someone who can get the respect and trust of the team. He embraces the challenge of being the leader and he is someone who wont let anything phase him. Watson has had the pedtides issue hanging over his head but has remained positive n guided the team through tough times. Ablett is the best player in the AFL and coming to a young team many doubted he could remain the best. In fact, he has developed into a leader and a better all round player. Leadership is embedded in certain people and they are people who get the best out of others not just themselves. Its a true quality to have!!

  111. Good discussion book. From my experience I believe one of the first issues leadership must deal with is the culture of a group or organisation. It’s one of the first things you notice when playing for a new club or starting a new job and has a great impact on how a group functions and progresses.

  112. A leader understands that everyone is different: people have varying motivations, approaches and values. A good leader is able to apply an specific individual approach to attempt to get the best out of members in his team.
    Setting long term goals – however audacious – then planning in the short term to try and achieve it is pivotal. For example, since becoming captain, Clarke was unwavering in his desire to return Australia to the number one test team.
    I think important values for a leader include setting a good example, being approachable, being an effective communicator and learns from failure.
    An enjoyable read Rulebook, certainly thought provoking.

  113. Great read Rulebook.
    I’d say the key to leadership lies in setting the example. On the footy field there’s nothing more inspiring than seeing a captain or player you look up to going in hard and putting their body on the line. They need to demand firstly the best out of themselves before they demand the best out of their team.
    Fascinating to see how the mighty Power have turned their team around primarily through strong leadership and a commitment from the team to work hard and put in 100%.

  114. The word leadership evokes two emotions from me firstly fear and secondly inspiration.
    Fear not from being afraid of having to lead but instead remembering old coaches and bosses who got a result from players and staff by breathing fire from the pulpit. Players where in fear for getting a spray for a single blemish, which would be the coaches/capitains focus.
    On the other hand leadership wells up a feeling of Inspiration when I think of some leaders who I would have blindly ran through fire for. They made you feel part of something bigger than yourself that you didnt want to miss out on the opportunity to contribute too.
    The nack to inspiring I believe is understanding how to connect with the individuals who make up to team. Its the same message but tailored to both loud and quite achievers of the team.
    This is where Boof has excelled as a leader/coach, the personal message is getting through to each player.
    So no offence to Pup Clarke but the change in Australia’s fortunes have come from Boofs ‘back yourself’ leadership style rather than the fear of failing which beforehand the players were bound up in.
    So leadership…you need to ask yourself the question, do I fear or inspire?

  115. Read the article, very interesting. Highlights to me the importance of leadership in building success as well as the importance of communication, all good sporting leaders (during my time) have all been good communicators. Also highlights to me the importance of off-field success (sound club management) to eventual on-field success.


  116. Leadership is about leading by example in the pursuit (not necessarily the achievement) of excellence and imparting knowledge in areas of expertise in the form of coaching (whether the actual coach or just another player). All the other stuff follows from those things and without them the rest is hollow.

  117. Jezzalenko says


    Another good article. Keep them coming!

    To me leadership is more about bringing out the best in the whole team. As the saying goes, “a champion team will always beat a team of champions”. A leader will focus on drawing out the strengths of each team member so that when a team plays together as a united bunch they are all covering for each other.

    A couple of good examples of this going around at the moment is Paul Roos, the Demons coach. Pretty much the same personnel as last year (minus Mitch Clark) but his coaching style, ethod and philosophy can already be seen in the way the team plays. Another one, much as I hate saying it is Ken Hinkley at PAFC. His simple clear instructions to each of the players, not overcomplicating the game but directing each player according to his strengths is a great part of why they are top of the ladder at the moment.

  118. Certainly some good points & philosophies in there. I think the world and sport in particular need leaders, without them we would have no one to respect or aspire to be which inturn will create a lackluster sporting team, event or even sport itself.
    Especially as Australian culture is based around so many sporting heroes, without these people in our lives, history books and memories where would we really b

  119. Phil David says

    Hi Book… great article enjoyed the read…..leadership is situational…different scenarios bring out different leadership qualities in people….those leaders who communicate well and follow through on what they promise are those I respect…the old saying actions speak louder than words comes to mind..inspiring on ground performances and off the field integrity. Concept of the leadership group facinates me…combining different leadership styles / attributes for a common goal…..

  120. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks guys some fantastic points leadership so different yet so similar in many minute ways . Thanks Chewey appreciated , Swifty interesting yes listen but ultimately back yourself , Fish great comment , Ablett has been a revelation as a leader and it seems to have helped his game . Graham totally agree re culture is so important both in sport ( Ad Uni FC main strength ! ) and in work and a poor culture eats away like cancer . Haz spot on you have to recognise individuals and there strengths but keep them with in a boundary , the cats strength . Watto totally agree example is so important especially physically in footy in a leader and the powers leadership both on ground and off and so galvanised is as good as any 1 in the comp . Barnsey fascinating in how leadership has evolved over time the fire and brimstone approach has gone communication is so important and all being on the same page , Boof has been brilliant and almost single handedly changed the culture got rid of a lot of the fear element and united every 1 a remarkable effort from where aust cricket was under , Mickey Arthur . Tim agree with every word you have written . ! Sean F yep the process must be right to start with and every 1 aiming for the same thing with senior players input vital. Jezzalenko yes a leader does unite and gets every 1 going in the same direction , Roos has at least got every 1 on the same page and while it is defensive we must remember where the dees are coming from and Hinkley has been brilliant keep it simple stupid has worked he also identified there weaknesses recruited pace and outside run with a simple game plan encouraging this
    Nicko profound and spot on we need heroes . Phil as others have also commented communication is vital , setting the right example , inspiring aiming for a common goal . Leadership is a subject which fascinates me in all aspects of life thanks folks

  121. Interesting read. I probable agree with all of it. Especially the importance of non negotiables and communication skills. Re St Kilda I totally agree and think their last few decisions have been good for the long term. Cheers Froggy

  122. Nathan Everitt says

    Great conversation starter Book.
    Too much for me to get through tonight but I will make one comment.
    There’s a lot of talk about people who lead by example but a lot of people who were not stars in their day go on to be fantastic leaders either as coaches or administrators.
    Some people just have the leadership but lack the physical skills and it always reminds me of that old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do!”

  123. Fab Sobes says

    I agree with your end comments. My big take on leadership is as follows. Some people are born to lead, natural leaders so to speak. You can teach people certain traits and qualities to become better leaders or managers but inherently people follow others who have certain charismatic and personality traits that others follow (like sheep) be they footballers or politicians.

  124. Alan de Menezes says

    Malcolm you are spot on with your article especially the situation with the Tigers. They are pathetic and continue to be pathetic. Hopefully Gale and Dimma will bring them back on track.
    I thought David Evans was the man for the job at Essendon. To date he has actually turned out to be a puppet of the AFL because of his freindship with Andy D. Im not certain Paul Little is the man for the job but maybe proven wrong. What I do know is that James Hird is the right leader for our footy club and he will come back bigger, stonger and better than ever after being made the sacrificial lamb in that whole sorry saga. Which in my opinion was a scare tactic pulled by the Labour government and Andy D got sucked in making The Bombers the sacrificial lamb. To date other than governance issues the whole investigation has NOTHING on us except some circustantial crap. I know you might not agree but that is my opinion right now. It might change if there is HARD EVIDENCE or proof of any wrong doing.

  125. Leader has to walk the walk Malcolm Ashwood
    Be willing to do the lacky shitty jobs as well
    A leader speaks more on the field with actions as opposed to in the huddle in the middle.
    Tom Harley classic leader IMO

  126. It”s a good read, in your comments you mention Bassett as an example. He was very much ‘you are either with me or against me’ type of leader. Plenty of coaches have that approach but you also have to have the motivationial skills to bring the group along with you. Different teams / groups require different leadership he was just a good fit for that kind of situation where money is not huge and their are plenty of other options for players.

  127. Tracy Smith mentioned you in a comment in AFL BIG 4 RIVALRY.

    Tracy Smith 9:31am Jun 12
    Malcolm Ashwood tom Harley has the prestige of being able to amazingly translate his focus via verbal communication and follows up with onfield camaraderie

    Absolute leader in every sense of the word

  128. James Hird the right leader for the Essendon Football Club. Spare me. I have never associated hubris with leadership.

  129. Craig Burton says

    Looks like some great debate going on here so I hope I don’t repeat too much of what has already been written.

    I have been lucky to experience and observe many leaders in my sporting career such as Alan Stewart in my early days, Kerley, Cahill at Westies, Nunan for 6 years, Blight and Ayers as their runner, Craig, Trigg, Chapman, Sanders when I worked at the AFC and a few in my working career such as Glenn and Tim Cooper and the recent head at PAC Kevin Tutt.

    Many of these in those early days were pretty basic, they told you what to do and you did it, end of story “I say you do”. If they operated like that these days they would not be successful over a long period however we accepted that as normal leadership behaviour back then.

    You mentioned Blighty as an example, he was held in such high esteem that no matter what he said people thought it was the right thing to do and few challenged his ideas. History says he was a pretty good coach however since the St Kilda episode he hasn’t coached so perhaps his style ran out of gas about then. Most of his coaching stints were short as when things didn’t work his direct style wore thin on most of the people involved, just ask a few old Woodville players.

    Nunan was a great teacher, he showed you what to do and then said go and do it, he assembled a team over a period between 81-91 that was pretty successful at SANFL level when the comp was pretty good – 5 GF’s (85,6,7,9,91) for 2 wins and Finals I think in most of those years. He played guys like A & D Jarman, Hart, Antrobus, Bennett, Wildy etc as teenagers in the early days and they ended up being the core of the group and added a selection from other clubs to compliment the list. Good leaders still need good people to work with as its the people that do all the work – in sport we call it performance.

    In the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins http://www.jimcollins.com/article_topics/articles/good-to-great.html he talks about leadership that is relevant in any organisation. One of the best quotes from the book is “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – I read somewhere else that “Good leaders simply get good people to do good work for them” – Its about recruiting the best people and then leading them in the right direction, Jim Collins uses the example of ‘all on the same bus’, you might start in the wrong seats but during the journey some change seats and some get off and other get on.

    Nunan use to say – ‘lets make sure we all are on the same tram’ – same thing.

    I’ve also had experience with the Leading Teams Program which was terrific and most AFL teams that have used it were pretty successful straight away, Geelong prior to and for a few years after 2007, Adelaide in Craig’s early years, Collingwood are back on it and Sydney has been for years. It didn’t work at SACA however Crickets culture at the time had to change and I think we are seeing that now. Choco also didn’t really like it however that’s his style and eventually he wore the players out I think.

    The key to Leading Teams and any Leadership program is honesty – having the courage and knowing that its safe to give feedback to anyone whether they are the boss or one of the troops is the key. To build this trust you have to be able to share things with people, it might be some personal stuff that is delicate however that builds trust and you are then able to give and receive feedback knowing that its not personal but aimed at performance.

    These programs are great in high performing environments and applying them to most work places often does not work. Adapting these philosophies to suit the situation is the key in the workplace. Leaders with great people skills and the ability to “Read the Play” are the ones that seem to produce great results. I think Trigg was good at that however he didn’t read it too well during the Tippett saga or more likely trusted his GM of Footy a little too much.

    This is where Thomas and Koch are doing good things as they value, or seem to from afar, the people in their organisation. Sporting clubs aren’t Banks they are a collection of people striving for that ultimate in success so I don’t think we can say that they need to be run the same way. Emotion is the ingredient that we see in sport and this is not there in other industries so leaders need to take this on board in these environments.

    I better stop now as I’m rambling on but I will leave you with this…’The sign of a good leader is that they can leave an organisation and it will still be successful for many years after’.


  130. Froggy thanks mate and that is promising re what you mention about the saints and good luck to your family !
    Nathan Great leaders such as Harley and Maxwell not necessarily the best player but never shirk a issue , galvanise a group and set the example
    Fab Great post yes a lot of truth in born leaders yep people can improve but largely people have it or don’t love how you expressed it
    Alan love your passion for your bombers but no no and no re , Hird the lack of governance and care is enough he got off wat twi lightly
    Tracy thank you agree entirely with your comments
    Chris yes bass was a great fit for the parade overall
    Pal spot on ! Thanks folks

  131. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Craig thank you greatly appreciated a fascinating comment and I am sure we have all learnt from your post ! Thanks and good luck to Ryan will follow his career with a huge amount of interest , Brilliant !

  132. Thanks for the invite to comment Rulebook. I think that Peter Crossing statement is closest my belief. In any society the fish rots at the head be that Family, sporting teams, Government or any level of society.

    For instance, families are everyone’s first involvement in learning how to develop as a team. If Dad, Mum Grandma or even Grandpa don’t show direction and leadership the flow down effect is evident. How many of the next generation of kids born during the $800 incentive scheme do you think will have the correct structure in their home to make them society leaders?

    Our Government’s at the moment be it whatever party or for that point whatever level of Government all lack the ability to say I believe in this or that and not cave in when it doesn’t look popular. In fact how many so called leaders in Government would actually make any decision based purely on what is actually right rather than popular. Most will call it politics but I call it lack of leadership.

    A good leader in any part of life is never loved by all because no one can make a decision for the best of any team, society or family and have everyone 100% happy.

    A good leader will make the hard decision and as people realise the decision was for the benefit of the greater good these people will respect and want to follow.

    A good leader leads by example.

    A good leader will want and look for great opposition because this will challenge their belief and will generally help fine tune any decision. This will make moving forward better for all.

    A GREAT LEADER WILL KNOW WHEN TO STAND UP AND SAY “I WAS WRONG” and then have the grace to look to other leaders around them to help correct any mistake and move forward.


  133. Leadership is an interesting trait and is under appreciated. An excellent leader can have a profound influence on a sporting team/business team/or a military fighting force.

    In the Aus cricket team we have been blessed with a relatively seamless transition between strong characters, clever tacticians and tough bastards who are more than prepared to stand their ground. Rulebook, you mentioned Clarke’s communication skills, but this is just one aspect of leadership. Despite his bleached hair, silly tattoos and Lara Bingle engagement Clarkey is as hard as a cats head, he wont back down and has proven with numerous big 100’s that he can handle a pressure situation. He may not have won himself many friends with the Katich/homework saga but I’m sure there is at the very least a begrudging respect from his team mates.

    A footballer like Jobe Watson has shown his ability to lead and galvanise Essendon in a very difficult period. He has that special leadership ability to not just raise his own game and lead by example but also to pick up and drag his team mates along for the ride, encouraging them to lift their own games.

    As a devoted Tottenham Hostpur supporter in the Premier League, our recent drop of in form is partly due to a lack of on field leadership. In the past our captain ‘Ledley King’ was crucial in issuing orders, instructions and ensuring that the formation was maintained, corners were set up for and players maintained their composure at crucial stages of the match. His ability to keep a cool head and keep a side organised was a crucial ingredient to his success as a leader.

    Conversely a player like Eric Cantona of Man Utd fame had this ability to exude self confidence to the point of arrogance which gave confidence to his team mates. He is an example of a charismatic leader.

    Just my 2 cents

  134. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Gubby you absolutely nailed it in my opinion could not agree more , EVERY politician should read thanks mate greatly appreciated

  135. Interesting take Malc. Some massively truths there.

    I’m going to answer this in a sporting sense.

    I believe leadership is “this ability to lead” Whether that be an individual, team or groups of teams. I also came across this definition in my travels which I love – “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”

    Notice key elements of the definition:

    Leadership stems from social influence, not authority or power
    Leadership requires others, and that implies they don’t need to be “direct reports”
    No mention of personality traits, attributes, or even a title; there are many styles, many paths, to effective leadership
    It includes a goal, not influence with no intended outcome

    As a die hard Chelsea supporter (one of the two clubs in world sport I support) I look at John Terry and his leadership for Chelsea and previously for England. He lives and breathes Chelsea. When he puts on that blue shirt you know he’s going to give 110%. Not just for him – also for his team mates, the manager and the fans. His presence, his confidence, his passion, his courage, I could go on..influence everyone around him especially his fellow team mates. You can see when he’s injured or not playing, the lack of leadership Chelsea display and intern how important he is to that club. He has got everything you want in an ON FIELD leader. I believe you also have to be a leader off the field. In this aspect John has struggled over the years with a certain amount of indiscretions, which included sleeping with a team mates (and former best friends) wife and allegedly racially abusing fellow English and Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand. This has severely dented his image and I feel intern damaged his image as a leader.

    So in a sporting sense you I believe you have to be as much as a leader off the field as you have to be on it. It’s great to be remembered on how good you were on the pitch but as I’ve just stated , its just as important to be remembered how good you were off the field as both a person and as a leader.

    Doesn’t quite answer your question second question Malc, I just feel this is a great insight in leading qualities of the guy

  136. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Butts disagree on one point , Clarke lost respect amongst his peers re with
    Bingle bells and then the Katich saga , he had to do a lot of work to regain respect and trust it was really the arrival of messiah take 2 in , Boof his communication skills and then before the ashes series we drew a line in the sand and wouldn’t be walked over again the drama with , Anderson helped him no end with in the inner sanctum and the results since then speak for themselves . Jobe Watson is amazing his efforts to keep the playing group together thru this whole saga are to be admired enormously . I like the , Tottenham reference ( I follow QPR ) and agree totally a good organiser and on field leader is worth there weight in gold in soccer and certainly agree , Cantona was charismatic ! Thanks Butts

  137. Great article R Book, I must say I’ve changed my opinion on Clarke. I never thought he’d get the respect of the players however I guess that just show’s how the team has changed since Ponting was captain. I think with the help of Boof he’s made his own team and good luck to him!
    Totally agree with the Blight/St.Kilda situation, you can’t put together a club with no moral fibre, a coach with hard line principals and expect it to work. It was a disgrace Blighty went out on that note.
    I agree with Gubby and others it’s all about Respect.

  138. N Swifte says

    Great topic. May be repeating someone above but in my opinion leadership is a quality that is almost impossible to teach. Firmly believe that there are natural born leaders out there and they come in all shapes and sizes – some love the chat, some lead by example, some inspire and so on. Unfortunately you probably need 5+ at a footy club to have a team that is half decent (let alone a champion team). Just my opinion. Don’t tee off on me gents. Really enjoyed the reference to Dick Winters in the comments above FYI.

  139. Cheryl Critchley says

    Great article Malcolm. I agree with the comments talking about culture. What Richmond has lacked for 30+ years is a winning culture. That has to come from the top and filter down through the ranks. At this point the club probably needs some new, dynamic board members to set the tone and come up with new ways of doing things that will instil that all-important winning culture. Brendon Gale has done much to improve the running of the club but I still hear stories about volunteers being treated badly at the hands of paid employees who treat them as a threat rather than embrace what they can bring to the club’s culture. Until that is fixed, sadly we ain’t going nowhere.

  140. Sergeant Schulz says

    A good article rule book, I think what ken hinkley has done for port has been outstanding as far as leadership goes. I think that leadership or the art of leadership has become far more difficult with gen y because kids these days seem to have a lack of respect and are unable to take criticism constructively, they also find it hard to admit wrong which make enforcing discipline difficult.

  141. What does a good leader look like? Here is something, and something is better than nothing.

    Clear vision. Consistent honest feedback given with empathy.
    Lead by example, build trust through your actions.
    Reward positive behaviors, always look to reward.
    Treat people with respect, even rulebook, especially rulebook.
    Be yourself, don’t try to be someone your not.
    Be concise.

  142. Spell well, as in you’re, not your. Players laugh when you spell poorly.

  143. Tolga Demirel says

    Thanks Malcolm, a good read & an awesome topic.

    To quote US lawyer D.McGannon ‘leadership is action, not position’ best captures my understanding of leadership. 
    A clear line must be drawn between a leader & a manager. Too frequently managers are confused as leaders. 
    A manager plans, budgets, organises, allocates resources & problem solves.
    A leader shows direction, inspires, motivates, influences & empowers.
    The 20th century has witnessed some amazing leaders. Gandhi ‘the Mahatma’, Atatürk & Fred Hollows are a few that inspire me. All are men whom were fixated on achieving their goal. They lead by action, never deviating from their objective for any worldly power. The groundswell of support in their cause was highly organic. Each happy to embark on their respective journey even if they were to go it alone. They inspired, influenced & people felt compelled to join them. People stood taller & felt invincible in their presence. They felt empowered.
    Translating this into current footy terms, some players ooze leadership. Selwood is at the forefront of my mind. Also players such as Voss, Paul Kelly & Judd all have had a similar impact to those around them in the last decade.

    It’s hard not to admire such individuals

  144. Chris Black says

    Excellent read, liked the St Kilda example with Lukey Dunstan. Then the contrast between the current Richmond and their poor decisions and the new Port power with their positive decisions. Also in the last paragraph listing the important characteristics for leadership I think discipline should be up there. Awesome article RB!!

  145. Chuckster says

    MalcolmYou make some good points on the importance of leadership and how it is clear to see when it’s lacking. Personally I reckon leadership is all about a few key guys rather than one ‘messiah’

  146. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Animal good to get some comments from the UK and also last night from ,
    China the Knackery is going global
    N Swifte thanks mate and agreed and yes we miss , TM greatly at blacks land
    Cheryl disapointing by Richmond and just dumb v poor leadership a club with its huge supporter base should be so much better . On and off field lack honesty to themselves and it’s supporters , Hardwick poor in this area as , Chris said compared to Port honesty is a huge part of that
    Nathan concise and amusing and good luck it continues to be a interesting ride
    Tolga great comment and include the incredible , Nelson Mandella , love your point
    Chuckster yep it has definitely moved in that direction the 1 person it’s my way or the highway has gone
    Sergeant Schulz yes the gen y generation are more than a handful at times and bloody hard work thanks folks greatly appreciated

  147. Set values and non negotiables. You either live them or you are out. I think it is important players have input into these then they have the ownership of them. The coach just oversees it and gets rid of the ones that dont. Pretty simple really.

  148. Patrick Maddern says

    Great article rulebook. Leadership is the crucial element to maintaining success. Many teams or athletes can reach greatness momentarily but the ability to maintain success is through exceptional leadership. Not sure I agree kreza is any great loss to the Australian Test team but I agree with the rest. Keep up the good work.

  149. Hey Rulebook.
    It was an interesting read. I think leadership in sports and leadership in the workplace are different. There are different principles at play and it is something that is interesting.
    In the workplace you tend to nurture and guide your staff and laws are in place to prevent harassment, bullying (verbal and physical) not to mention a companys’ code of conduct. Why does that type of leadership not translate in the sporting field. yelling, highlighting weakness, singling out. At every level stand-over tactics tend to be the calling of the day. I know that the positive reinforcement and encouragement also happens as well but when the chips are down the leaders resort an old fashion spray is how the leaders inspire motivation.

    What do you think?

  150. Very interesting… As in all team sports, success and leadership, I believe it is a massive mindset thing. As a leader (or any other player for that matter) your head must be in the game at the right times and you must have the firm belief that you can do well when you need to.
    When that is lacking, and everyone is on separate pages, you’re not going to go far
    Gen Y definitely makes it difficult too, communication is a big problem

  151. Thanks Rulebook

    Isn’t it a problem in the business world at least with incentives? “Leaders” or “CEOs” earn fortunes whether they win lose or draw. They can move into the next leadership gig with a fortune – so performance doesn’t matter as they get much more than people they are “leading”

    Bob Hawke went to the ACTU in 1958-59. The salary he earnt then was only 10 per cent less than what he had got as a trainee oil company executive. Now the oil company exec would get 10 or 20 times what the actu person would get. And who’s the better leader ?

    This may distort how we value leadership affecting sport as much as business

  152. Campbell says

    Another interesting article Rulebook. Great leadership skills are needed in sport, and also in many other aspects of life.

  153. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Great point Plug.

    Who/how are these compensations determined? Who picks the leaders, on what basis? Are any incentives just the cream on top? How do you get onto a board, and once you are there, is it the Willy Wonka golden ticket for life?

    The Australia Post CEO salary disparity is a case in point.

  154. Malcolm,
    Thanks for the invitation to join in your conversation regarding Leadership.
    From my perspective we all need leadership of some kind in our lives whether it be in the workplace on the sporting field or in our own social groups. For me Leadership occurs in groups and involves influencing a group of individuals to achieve common goals. Leadership can be obtained in one of two ways, either assigned eg Team Leader, Department Head etc, or emergent, evolving over time via communication skills and certain personality traits.
    With this in mind for the leader has to be insipational and get the buy in of all individuals within the group, therefore, I beleive that a great leader needs to have the following qualities: Confident, Honest, Great Communication Skills, Lead by Example, Ability to Delegate, Sense of Humour, Creative & Decisive and Be Empathetic.
    The greatest piece of advice that my Manager, gave me many years ago was this – To be a great manager you need to have a great team around you. By this I mean as a manager or leader you cannot be expected to know everything, however they need to have an understanding\knowledge of all facets of the worplace, environment you are in and then surround yourself with experts in the respective fields you are responsible for.
    For me at the moment Sydney and Hawthorn are the benchmark teams in the AFL. In particular Sydney I think thay have been in the finals for the past 11 years, you do not see any bad press and they have taken on problem individuals from other clubs and been able to have them embrace the bloods culture.
    As for whatever generation you are leading it all comes back to how you get buy in from the followers.

  155. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks guys Bunny always happy to hear of a coach who doesn’t make it 2 complicated and good luck for the rest of the year !
    Patrick good point re about staying there , Kreza was poorly handled by Ponting tactically and then lost his confidence would be v interesting to see how he wold go in the current environment
    Missy yes it is interesting how the work place and sport differ a huge part of that is the emotional side and quite often a quick decision made re work is more a long term goal , while there is not the blasts of yesteryear in sport imagine gen y with those ! They still do occur often used just to test a players and teams mental strength and see you rises to the top , the methods have changed over the years with the leading teams model certainly tho you would not get away with the verbal harassment re work place compared to sport a interesting comparison !
    Kermit thank you and yep every 1 must be on the same page !
    Plug and Swish v interesting about the corporate world and what deals are done etc to get the bonuses and yep the soccer world cup has started re a sporting equivalent
    Campbell thanks mate greatly appreciated
    Moz extremely well put with sound reasoning basically agree with every word !
    Litza yes individuals and teams will push boundaries to the limits when Alison Peek the Olympic hockey player was with us she was fanatical about watching a bar person pour her a drink and was meticulous with everything she did , Peeky and a number of cricketers thought , Warne got off v lightly and in this regard I feel no sympathy for the , Essendon players it is a case of appalling leadership thanks folks

  156. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Jesse loved your comment v profound and precise and enjoyed the Terry example and there is no doubt his off field behaviour hurt him greatly he probably would still be England captain with the obvious comparison being , Wayne Carey thanks Jesse and I reckon my bet on James re rising star is looking ok !

  157. Simon Sharley says

    Leadership is vital in anything, in getting individuals to work for a common goal and have that ‘direction’ that you are talking about. However leadership is hard to narrow down to exactly, ‘what actually is a good leader?’ Reading through the piece and subsequent comments, leadership qualities are something we know must be displayed by a leader. However I believe the implementation of these qualities should differ in different circumstances, as a leader needs to understand the cultural surroundings, players as individuals, any relevant history in order to get the best out of each individual to help them strive for that common goal.

    To give it a sporting feel in relation to leadership it should be noted I have only ever played for one Australian Rules Football team, however I have been in many other sporting teams of different codes. My experience in Aussie Rules, has been more of the qualities of ‘lead from the front’, when times are tough, ‘lead by example’ have a strong commanding ‘voice’. These are fine attributes but the most important quality that I believe the best leaders have (especially in Aussie rules) are the ones that have an ‘aura’ about them, a ‘presence’. You feel them out there on and off the ground, the old saying of you feel ‘10 feet higher’ just being around them. It is these leaders in my experience of aussie rules that have had the biggest effect on my as a player and my performance.

    That is not to say every leader needs to be charismatic like that, as a team with high personalities/large characters probably will not work but it is more important to have a leader who understands the individuals and the surroundings to get them working as best one may. Leadership in sport is a difficult one as players come from different backgrounds, have played in many teams before and have different lives away from the sport but it is good leadership that will make a successful team and Book I believe this a valuable discussion as “leadership” is difficult to define and various on situation as not a ‘one size fits all.’

  158. Not the real Bob Neil says

    Leaders influence others – good or bad. When the majority of a particular group are influenced it hatches a culture – good or bad. The importance of a playing group to develop values (and define what these values look like and represent) is critical as it takes personal critique out of the feedback phase – you simply refer back to the values when giving feedback – good or bad – as they are the cornerstone to your behaviour/s in a team environment.

  159. Ryan Harris says

    Good write-up Mal.

    I know a couple of people have already mentioned Luke Hodge but did anyone see the Grand Final retrospective the Hawks did on Foxfooty a few months back? According to the Hawthorn players, Hodge said to his players as they walked back onto the G after half time: “I hope Fremantle kick the first few goals of this half to really make us earn it.”

    Seems like a really unusual tactic to employ and funnily enough Freo did kick a few which spurred the Hawks into action. I suppose Hodge showed that a leader needs to challenge his or her fellow players – to demand a full and complete effort in order to get the best outcome. A leader like Hodge simply does not let his players rest on their laurels. If you expect great things of people they will, in most cases, strive for greatness.

  160. Great article Mal. Someone once told me that sometimes leadership is simply being selfless and putting the team first. Someone doesn’t always have to play well to lead well. It helps though. ..

  161. Great topic RB.
    if you get the chance check the vision towards the end of Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
    “San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker wasn’t the star of Game 3 of the 2014 NBA Finals, but coach Gregg Popovich made sure that his player knew that he was a key part of the team’s victory.

    Parker finished the game with 15 points and four assists. Those numbers may not jump out at anyone, but it was his leadership, according to Popovich, that helped his team come away with a 111-92 victory over the Miami Heat. ”

    The other interesting commment out of the game was ‘ A great team is one where the best player is coachable – in this case Tim Duncan is open to the coaching of Poppavich and willing to change his game to suit the team.’ not sure if LeBron, Kobe etc are ‘coachable’ to the same extent.
    Im rooting for San Antonio as all I hear about them is they are a team – not a group of overpaid egotistic individuals.

  162. National Nine News says

    Good debate mate. Personally i believe leadership is something that cannot be taught or forced. Children develop leadership as they grow, that’s why it is so important to get them in the right surroundings, which encourages everyone to have a voice. Just my opinion. Good stuff mate

  163. Jusacton says

    What makes a good leader? In my opinion as someone whom is not overtly interested in sport, people whom I would consider to have made good leaders would most definitely be Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King & His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.
    Malcolm, you spoke about the elusive qualities of Gen Y. But let’s talk a little about the nature of reality. IF the true nature of reality is subjective then you are creating your own reality & or perception of these people. The problems you perceive in people in your reality are merely projections of your thoughts. As you are the singular consciousness there is only one source of intention & that is yours. So in this model the dissatisfaction we feel in our daily lives is merely a product of our own mind. If you believe in the true nature of reality to be objective & the object of knowledge is the Universe then this obviously does not fit in. But let’s not forget that the people in our lives that test our patience are our greatest teachers. Patience is by analogy like a muscle that needs to be strengthened. So paradoxical these people whom might not be good leaders may actually be able to produce a good leader by their testing of an individual’s patience & resolve. So in short I would say the answer lies within & ultimately you are your own Guru & create your own success or failure within this life.

  164. Excellent thoughts Malcolm,

    Leadership is present in all teams, it’s just a case of whether it’s good or bad.
    Good leadership is the quality that binds teams together and makes a team of good players a great team capable of achieving much together. I think that good leadership is also the quality that helps us as supporters connect with a team and grow to like them.

  165. It’s a very interesting article Rule Book and poses some interesting thoughts about leadership in general. You sum it very well at the end in your final quote…. Spoken like a true leader hey!
    Long live Bob Neil

  166. Alex Page says

    Three words sum up leadership. Consistency, transparency and respect. A good leader will have a transparent goal, consistently work towards achieving that goal and this in turn commands respect from those they are leading. Darren Lehman is a great example of a good leader and he has reaped the rewards

  167. Like your lines. In my new role I can say Steven Marshall is one of the best leaders I have come across. He delivers the perfect blend in his leadership style.

  168. Great conversation starter Ashy!
    I read many of the comments and enjoyed the diversity of ideas and thoughts – very intuitive!
    My thoughts revolve around leaders, in whatever sphere of life, enabling people in their teams to be:
    Self – reflective – able to be critical of their own performance/s whilst remaining focused on improving themselves.
    Open to feedback – acknowledge the input and views of others to ‘value-add’ to their skill sets
    Aware of their own limitations – everyone adds value but the most value is when a leader and a team member know/agree on how someone best suits the team and then fulfills that role.
    A leader is self-less and their teammates follow/engage as they feel valued.

  169. Jimmy Wong says

    The Essendon board is an absolute disgrace, James Hird has driven that club to the ground and in return the board promotes him to an extended contract. Paul Little, yes the name says it all “Little” little care for the club, little care for the players, little care for the members but the members are too insecure and full of delusion to see the truth! Appalling Leadership !

  170. Matt Jolly says

    Some good points Malcolm. I believe that leadership starts from the top and filters down.
    From the top I mean president, CEO and football manager etc. I think if you look at the past premiers in football for instance all those clubs seem to be incredibly stable off the field. I think this is in part because if you want your team to get results on the field they have to believe that their efforts will be going towards helping build a strong successful club.
    Then obviously the coach will play the major role in setting the standards on the field but more importantly off the field in training and preparation. You need a strong leader who can make the hard calls and get rid of the players who don’t buy in to the team first culture and also extract the best out of the players. The hardest part of this is knowing how to extract the best out of the players. Some will need a kick up the bum, some will need a fatherly arm around their shoulders and some encouraging words. Good leaders know how to get everyone heading in the one direction.
    Then it comes down to the players. Are they willing to follow their leader? The fact is that no matter how many good leaders you have some players will not buy in and be individuals. They need to be jettisoned to allow the players who are willing to do the team things to work towards success.

  171. Nice Rule Book

    I guess leadership is important in top level sports these days but I would argue that it doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of one individual, rather the entire organization. You need not just one leader but many. To be a good leader and more importantly be a good club you need a consistent message and philosophy on the direction you want the club to reach, both on field and off field. Personally I want my captain to show the way on the field firstly and back the standards that the coach sets and someone that rally’s around the blokes in the side or club – Jobe Watson immediately springs to my mind. However the coach is where it’s one or lost for me. The coach has to be a people person and great communicator for things to work. If you can’t constantly communicate with every individual then it’s easy to lose the players and cause all sorts of problems. Constant feedback weather it’s general chat, feedback, positive or negative it is imperative to a good culture and feel around the group. When everything is transparent from the top and the message is united it’s easy to work towards the one goal of obviously been successful. It would appear that is what Ken Hinkley has done at the power.

  172. Brandon Williams says

    To me, leadership should not be confused with poor guidance or decision making. A strong leader will make mistakes but learn and take it on board to utilise that experience for next time. Where as poor decisions can’t be co fused with good leadership and can be outta the hands of those leading at their best. IE- ur reference to essendon. I feel they have great leadership in Watson and heppell yet poor decisions were made by the club. For me mate and my experience in sport, leaders and leadership that groomed success stems from respect. Respect must be given to those around the “leader” by the leader themselves and never over elevate the fact they are the leader. The qualities and special traits will naturally show that. Also then that respect must be reciprocated. Nobody likes a jerk. The special traits I speak of that stand a leader out from the rest of the pack to me are being humble, a great work ethic, a pure positive attitude, and the ability to connect to the many different characteristics that make up the human race to each individual and being able to tap into and relate to each. Very hard to find all, can’t always be taught, and generally as referred to above, adapted from past successes and failures.

    There’s my two bobs worth mate, but u are certainly right, it is becoming more and more prevalent in sport and today’s society. One can only hope they are blessed to be one themselves or have the good fortune to be involved and around it. It’s becoming a rarer occurance in today’s society and sport with a me, me, me attitude everywhere.

  173. Going by the long list of comments, I could be forgiven for thinking that leadership is a blokes domain.

    I read this article a while back. Initially, I felt like I had no tangible experience in an obvious leadership role and so refrained from commenting.

    However your article Malcolm, and the volume of responses it has generated, did leave me thinking about this topic and the question “What is Leadership?”. I’m not sure I have come to any grand conclusions, but these here are a couple of things that I have considered:

    – Firstly… it is a curious thing that it is almost solely the men that have responded. Women lead, as men do, in a myriad of ways….home, workplace, religious, political and sporting spheres…..so are we women not interested in the topic? See it as irrelevant? Or are we just too busy doing other things? Busy being leaders?

    I wonder if perhaps in the minds of women, we don’t call it or see it as specifically as ‘Leadership’…it’s something else that is done under another guise or under another name; perhaps even, nameless.

    Is ‘leadership’ something other people do? Pertinent only in sport, business, politics and religion. Of course it is not, but sometimes it can seem this way.

    Leadership, as I see it, is a union of both thought and action that can move an individual, or a group or a community to strive to accomplish a certain goal or outcome; to seek a better place; to learn or gain a greater insight to the benefit of the broader group.

    Leadership requires a view forward and a clear picture of that which is possible. It requires conviction. It requires a firm stance. It requires initiative.

    It requires an ability to enlist help and generate motivation in others. It requires endurance and stamina. It requires courage.

    It requires the courage to own defeat or failure and to acknowledge success.

    In fact the more I think about it , the deeper it goes…..and my nine year old is standing beside me hounding me to take him to a well known fast food outlet. No. No. No. You are not putting that crap into your body! He’s not happy.

    Leadership is a journey into the unknown.

  174. Rhys Zippell says

    It actually sounds pretty good, I think leadership does start from the top. Leaders require the respect and trust of theirs peers. I would also be willing to say that leaders often need to be given permission to lead whether from the higher ups or their peers. This permission can be either spoken or non spoken. If someone attempts to take a leadership role without authority they are often questioned resulting in either failure of a very tenuous start. Just my thoughts, great article very interesting wee done rule book

  175. Paul Knowles says

    Leadership is an interesting thing & not many people in life are chosen to be a leader of their preferred group or team!

    The above article is very well written & very interesting!

  176. Fivos Panayiotou says

    You nailed everything beautifully on your posts and comments personally I believe leadership true leadership is just that to lead and offer and provide encouragement….mentoring….stability…healthy constructive criticism….fellowship and great team relationships…but most important of all mutual respect but a love and honour to play for the team the team leader and one another

  177. Fivos Panayiotou says

    You get all that and someone who followers or players look up to and you got a great thing going it all starts with the leaders

  178. Great article Book. Another topic worth of discussion.

    I think Leadership is about having the guts to stand up for your beliefs and enact change when required. The best leaders are the ones that can make the unpopular decisions that need to be made, while managing to keep the majority onside.

  179. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks folks it is a great topic a lot of diverse subtle differences certainly a subject we can learn and take bits in from every 1
    Kate yes I find it surprising that it has been virtually a male domain re comments when leadership is just as much a quality found in ladies and needed in society
    Thanks every 1 have truly appreciated all the comments and feedback

  180. Fiona Seagar says

    Yes I agree with you Malcolm, leadership is all about setting rules, limits and expectations for all involved no what matter who you are.

  181. Great article RB. Only have to look at Lyon and Roos for their non-negotiable approach to team standards as other great examples also- my question to you is: do you think Sanderson has this quality? I believe the jury is out and suspect he is not hard enough to make the tough calls…

  182. Kris Vanderloo says

    Excellent article .There are many facets to being a great leader..Ken Hinkley , Paul Roos and from a international standpoint , Tony Popovich are in my view the best ATM . Yes they are ruthless in their expectations of players but they are also by all reports great communicators who instil confidence in their players which is equally as important . One such thing a Mark Neeld for example failed to do

  183. Peter Maddern says


    Comments are:

    Re Richmond, I think they have been on the right track for 10 years – unfortunately Wallace was a dud.

    Re Clarke – you can’t lead effectively when you have people attempting to undermine you – you need a unity of purpose behind one person or group. In any case Krezja had other problems so I am told

    Re elements of leadership – there are many styles and while your principles are relevant I suspect most people placed in leadership roles, if properly overseen and they possess integrity under fire, espouse and do what you say.

    But in addition, you need to ensure you have the right mix of people and more than anything the ability to bring them along with you; lead from the front and corral from behind.

    Finally, you need a lot of luck. We only ever hear much about the successful leaders, not those who prevail but don’t necessarily succeed. If Mitch Johnston hadn’t reincarnated himself, where would Clarke and his team have got last summer? Clarke in my view was / is a great leader but would people be singing his praises or looking to take him down?

    Hope this is of interest.

  184. CI Ansell says

    For me, your point that gen y is a problem rings very true. Captaining and coaching younger players moving into senior ranks I am finding it much harder to find leadership qualities in these young guys. They are all about themselves and when the going gets tough it’s someone else’s fault. There are exceptions of course, but increasingly difficult to find them.

  185. Steve wood says

    RB, my daughter (aged21) coaches high school and state volleyball with girls aged 15 to 17 years old.
    Her thoughts on leadership are to
    1 lead by example
    2 encourage
    3 communicate
    4 instill confidence
    5 calmness

    The last point comes from the realization that many of the younger kids nowadays will respond better to a calm measured approach to the more aggressive approach that we knew.
    It all seems a bit gen Y to me, but that is maybe the way things are moving

  186. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Malcolm, I was out of the country when you published this article, and am overwhelmed with the responses you have gotten to this subject. I confess that I haven’t read through all 189, and I will give you some thought after having read your article.

    Re St.Kilda, leadership is important and for the first time in ages I think the club have gotten the mix into a better place. There are women on the board, experienced athletes and business people, a 5-10 plan that affects off field as much as on field, a woman on the coaching team to help with development, a senior coach with masses of experience and has obvious people skills and is a good communicator, is tough but fair,

    So just watching my particular team, I can say that the leadership isn’t about just one individual but a culture and a team approach that asks that everyone, from the player to staff and to the board, and even the fans, contribute to produce an environment and club spirit that we can be proud of. On top of that, it is important that each individual member of the club and supporter base think about their own contribution to leadership – behaviour, example, support, creative thinking, positive thinking, planning and loyalty but not blind loyalty.

    I like Steve Woods daughters approach and am interested in what changes to leadership will come when there are more women contributing to the conversations. Many of the points about leadership and mentoring that I have bought up on the site are now being put into effect, so someone out there has the same ideas…..perhaps culturally we are all getting that the way to lead is changing.


  187. Peter Argent says


    Leadership is an extension of culture of a club or organization

    Good leadership cant happen in a place that engenders back culture

    Starts for the administration – President, CEO and works down through the staff and players

    _ And you’re right about Luke Dunstan – they had question about his pace – and it was suggested he could even drift out to a fourth or fifth round pick by some recruiters.

  188. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Lachy spot on re jury is our re Sando ( we miss, Bailey tactically big time )
    Kris Excellent comment love the mention of Tony Popvich correct weight and all clear re Mark Neeld
    Peter Richmond have improved in some areas but in the vital area of leadership they are a mile behind . Great point re Mitch Johnson
    Ci Ansell yes gen y can be rewarding and so frustrating and so annoying and a side point makes the Ess players not questioning the hell out of the whole drugs saga even more mystifying
    Steve yes it has changed since our days but your daughter is on the right track in like the point re calmness and certainly no I would have done better if I had been more relaxed in my own sport it is a fine line between being correctly motivated and being too relaxed thanks , Steve and your daughter
    Yvette as always love your positivity and in Allan Richardson have some 1 who is highly regarded in the footy industry and to the clubs credit admitted leadership was a concern and deliberately recruited the most highly rated junior in this area in the draft .St Kilda will be a interesting ride and journey to follow
    Peter totally agree leadership starts at the top and is a area in which , Port with
    Thomas and Hinkley have improved enormously and yes there are a lot of areas
    Port have improved in no doubt leadership has played a huge part thanks , Peter
    Thanks folks love the comments !

  189. Neville Ford says

    What constitutes a good leader?
    Premierships won
    , record profits at a business or leading an organisation through a crisis? The ones that should judge are the people within the inner sanctum or the team involved. They are the people directly affected. The unfortunate thing is the people that judge are normally those who aren’t in a position to!

  190. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Good point Neville and overall I think you are spot on until something gets so big such as the bombers and then the inner sanctum are the last 1s to decide appropriate action but in general in business and most sport cases you are so correct
    ( how many people at amateur level will criticize but won’t get off their arse to help )
    Nathan earlier I agree totally and quite often it is the honest battler re , Sheedy , Malthouse , Pagan who are the best teachers and coaches . A great player who struggled coaching was , Greg Chappell couldn’t adjust to mete mortals
    Plenty of champions in all sports struggled re coaching and communicating
    Thanks folks

  191. Great article r book and certainly thought provoking
    (V interesting comments 2 book shows how you are respected around the traps
    thank you ! )

  192. Nice article ruly!

    Couldn’t agree more about the importance of leadership.

    Can’t look past sir Alex at Man U, 25 years of real leadership down the drain as soon at the leader changed.

  193. Tom Harley’s book is the best I’ve read on leadership. I got a lot out of it and you can see the clubs that have strong leadership (Both players and officials) and the ones that don’t.

  194. Matthew Ey says

    Completely agree with the article mate. But furthermore I think that you can’t blame specific individuals for not showing a huge amount of leadership when they are put in these positions as especially looking at the tigers and saints the culture of the clubs is less than sound. From the outside pressure is huge and membership numbers remain constant, internally pressure builds and when on field performances waver these on-field leaders loose confidence. Without the proper support from the clubs board and proper counseling this can cause negative results in players who are suppose to lead with optimism.

  195. Very interesting article. I think that leadership is such a complicated and difficult thing to explain and quantify. A good leader leads by example and will never expect anything of a team mate that he/she would not do him/her self. A good leader also needs to be a good communicator, compassionate and have a real sense of caring. A leader needs to earn the respect of team mates in all that he/she does on and off the field. A true, good leader can make such a difference to the success of the team, but needs good support around him/her . No one can expect to be a successful leader without support and the belief of others.

  196. Lewis Pounentis says

    Leaders are born – not created

    No matter now good a club’s administration is, no matter how good the coaches are, a leader enters a club based on their own capabilities

    A player or administrator can be led or advised but a leader can make those decisions, deal with the consequences if those decisions are incorrect, move on and become bigger and better

    Many great examples of leaders and non-leaders have been made, but you can’t look past the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson who changed the face of Manchester United for a quarter of a century and has left a lasting legacy. David Moyes could never follow in his footsteps as a manager and a leader and has subsequently paid the price

    Once you’ve left an indelible footprint, a club’s leadership criteria have changed for an eternity

  197. Nice write up Malcolm great topic.

    Leadership defines all successful organisations/groups, whether it be sport, work or even family/friends. If you have had success in any of the above, it is because good leadership has been present.

    The definition can be so broad, but the most important aspect is, if you are in a position that requires you to lead, ensure your principles are consistent and you have communicated these to the people following you. Because your followers will define your leadership legacy and shape the success of your leadership.

    I wont even get into any names/examples, it is not my style. But generally there are two reasons why an organisation or group fails – ordinary appointment of leader who has no principles/message, or can not communicate. Most humans love to follow and be inspired, trick is to find your message, communicate it, believe it, AND LIVE IT!!!!

  198. There can never be too much communication from a leader or leadership group.
    Great article and discussion Book.

  199. Good article rulebook. A leader doesn’t have to be the best player on the field, or even the bloke everyone looks up to. A leader should be the bloke who everyone plays for and who brings the best performance’s out of their players in any code. Unfortunately in some instances external and internal pressure kills what made the leader the right person for the job, which is why in my opinion leadership “groups” are so valuable.

  200. So insightful, Book, that I doubt whether you wrote it.

    There’s a million takes on leadership.
    I’ve heard comparisons between sport and business, but of most interest was a speech I heard from a man who was successful in both.
    He said that the difference was that you needed luck in business.

    So it occurs to me they may be incomparable.

    I’m equally surprised, Book, that clearly so many people listen to you :)

  201. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Stump Thank you
    Doc and , Lewis interesting you both used , Sir Alex Ferguson as a example of a great leader and then the failure of David Moyes we must wonder if Man U were as prepared as they should have been re a replacement and soccer so quick to hire and fire managers is that the answer ? Doc good luck OS May Bob be with you
    JB thank you and will buy , Tom Harley’s book and good luck for the rest of the year !
    Matthew Ey good point re the tigers and saints that clubs starting from a low base just have to be so careful to dot the i s and cross the t s and not waver with double standards .
    Deb great point re caring I am generalising here but overall I think that is a aspect females carry out better than males and is something we males can learn from the ladies ! Wish your family the best in there sports always followed with keenness and admiration .
    Ben well rounded and well put again we come back to maintaining consistent standards there are a lot of leaders in sport and life who should be taking in and learning from the article and the comments .
    LE thank you and good luck in your huge life change !
    Jono thanks mate and the leadership group is certainly the way today the approach of 1 person it’s my way or the highway has just about gone
    Thanks folks greatly appreciated !

  202. Luke Reynolds says

    Angelo Mathews showing great leadership since taking over as Sri Lankan Test skipper, averaging over 80 with the bat including 3 centuries. His 160 v England last night has completely swung the game in Sri Lanka’s favour after England were on top the first three days. A somewhat surprising choice as captain, no doubt showed leadership qualites throughout his career and it clearly has brought out the best in him.

  203. Chris Kendall says

    Really well written and great examples – the point about J Mac and Port is really well made too, that was also a major turning point for that club. Great work

  204. Not Roger says

    leadership is very important & very diverse .But essentially it is about getting everyone on the same page & keeping driving the standards to get results .Easy to talk about but hard to implement unless you have the right leaders & unfortunately they may not always be your best players .

  205. Willow Wilson says

    Nice work Rulebook,
    So many interesting posts and comments. For me leadership can be summarised as;
    Vision, Belief, Passion, Communication, Self-awareness, Integrity, Legacy.
    Without vision of where you are trying to go, why would anyone want to go with you?
    If you dont show you believe, and that you are completely committed and passionate about the direction, again who wants to go with you?
    Great to have a vision and be passionate but if you cant sell the message with communication across all levels of a team/business?
    Self awareness is critical – understand what you are great at and areas where you need support – get great people around you to support your weaknesses (maybe Boof with Michael Clarke).
    Most people can spot a fake, honesty and integrity, doing what you say you are going to do, and not expecting others to do something you are not prepared to do yourself (some excellent war examples posted above).
    Finally, legacy, at work we recently spent some time looking at corporate culture, and something that resonated with me was “the quality of a leader can be measured by the number of leaders they develop, or the number of people from their team that will be able to move into their role”

  206. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Luke Angelou Mathews has been significant for that group and as Not Roger says your best player does not automatically make the best captain
    Happy Birthday Luke from the Knackery !
    Chris K Thank you and it is a credit to Port that a tragedy has been used with respect and in the best possible way
    Not Roger ( love the name ) thank you and the roller coaster ride continues
    Willow Wilson very eloquent and well put I particularly like your point about a well run work place that grows leaders from with in ( easier than sport ? ) and has a seamless transition in leadership and continues to grow and develop
    Thanks Folks

  207. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Hi Malcolm,
    Came in late on this one. Terrific thread that resonates across a number of different areas. In sporting terms AR Border was a reluctant, self-conscious leader who found stoicism during the lean years and helped build a great team that came to dominate the 1990s early 2000s. Lately I’ve been listening to the audio book of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Much food for thought: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvIa2iopqTY

  208. I believe great leaders lead by example, they motivate others to fulfill their potential by encouraging and supporting others. A leaders motives should be to get the best out of the people around them even if it involves sacrificing self praise.

  209. . Must agree with all the sample cases you put forward as examples of poor leadership creating poor environments. From where I sit, leadership is not about being ruthless. Being ruthless may bring short term gain, but it is a not a solution for longevity. Brisbane were exceptional, brilliantly led, and absolutely ruthless under Leigh Mathews. They now face the prospect of many years in the doldrums as a result of that desire for short term success. Good leaders get rid of distracting elements that are a disease to positive environment. Individuals destroy community and team momentum. Good examples are people like Adam Heuskes who destroyed his and other players careers at three clubs. Looking back he never should of been recruited into any club regardless of ability. Leadership is indeed about courage combined with clear and consistant messages. More importantly, leadership is never about the one, it is always about encouraging others to meet and exceed their physical, mental and social limits.

  210. Anthony Diener says

    Very good Rulebook, and on the money. The one thing I have found throughout my working and sporting career is that leaders are born, not made. I’m not a Port supporter at all but all you have to do is look at Boak

  211. Sam Harley says

    I have always taken on board what my mentors have taught me over the years but none more so than one particular guy who opened my eyes up to a new way at looking leadership in the face and what it really means.

    He was a former Commander of the Australian Comando forces who had toured globally with the defence force and with that came some inspirational stories. In addition to that he was a graduate of the Melbourne Business School and amongst other things, made the transition from military to civilian life seamlessly

    We talk about leadership on the sporting field and I have been privileged to see my younger brother Tom demonstrate that impeccably throughout his brilliant career, however leadership after the last day on the pitch or for that matter, Leadership for those that don’t aspire to the last Saturday in September.

    Back to my mentor. Lessons were simple. As a leader never assume you know the answer. You have a team around you and you trust for a reason. Listen to them and learn. OODA Loop. Observe: take in the surrounding issues. Orientate: identify what the issue is: Decide: what action are you going to take and Act: do it. A wrong decision is better than no decision. Learn from the wins and arguably learn more from the losses however you will never learn by never taking any action at all. Spin the OODA loop quicker than your oppent and you will never lose.



  212. interesting article you bring up some good points especially in regards to St Kilda and Richmond, why is it that these type of clubs continue to implode? Surely they have changed the personal at the top enough times for the right changes to happen or have they?

  213. Loved it and loved the professionalism and true on what you wrote good stuff Maicolm!) 10 out of 10

  214. A good read ashy I think it takes sevral things to be a good leader communication,getting everyone on the same page and leading by example on and off the feild. You gotta have your team mates respect as we’ll !

  215. Sambo Lee says

    Nicely penned Rulebook – So many examples of good leadership out there in the sporting sphere, and in a team environment you’ve hit the nail on the head in terms of a leader only being as good as the cattle at his/her disposal. The trick of any good leader is being able to extract the maximum potential from their troops in order to achieve their overall team goal. Always a challenge, but when reached, enormously satisfying.

  216. Tim Dansie says

    I think we all need to understand that Leadership has changed significantly through the last 10 years. So many of us aged 45 + experienced leaders who yelled, berated but who were also very good at their chosen sport. Lead through example but also through creation of fear of not doing a good job and letting your team mates down. This style of coach would openly berate players in front of team mates.

    This certainly happens rarely today and when it does, the coach will apologize afterwards. The current generation view leadership as a cooperative experience, hence the formation of leadership groups. Within the leadership group their are typically different characters. The leader who speak very well publicly, the leader who bonds well with team mates and lifts people up, the leader who sets an example at training, the leader who sets the example on the field. We can all identify these types of people in sport.

    The truly great leaders can do all of the above and they guide the rest of the leadership group and teach young leaders.

    As for definition I believe a leader is someone who is true to the values of the organisation they are involved whilst setting an example that inspires others to emulate the leadership behaviours


  217. I think at the moment the younger generation are trying to establish their own style of leadership. The new kids on the block don’t respond to the hard nosed, brutally honest style of the past, so to us older blokes, it comes across as soft.

  218. A fascinating article book on a really interesting subject , your thoughts are well explained and a pleasure to read and ponder . Wow the comments made show what a interesting subject leadership is and the respect you are held with in sporting circles . Thanks R book well done !

  219. Rick Harley says


    Some very interesting discussion from various almanackers.

    Given Tommy Harleys commentary on this topic widely publicised elsewhere — with which by the way I agree –it is best I dont say much other than I am convinced ( as hinted at by some other posters ) that most great leaders are born with a certain amount in their DNA and acquire the rest from their environment such as family , school and other influences.

    Others have the role of leadership thrust upon them .

    In Tommys case there is no doubt his characteristics were moulded by some fantastic mentors at the Cattery — Frank Costa ( probaly the most extraordinary bloke I have ever met ) , Cooky , Bomber T , Brendan MacCartney , Ken Hinkley , Steve Hocking , Balmey , Ron Watt and so on.

    But his mums father Bryan Rofe — also the father of legendary Adelaide Uni Blacks icon Paul who died last year — at aged 24 led a rear party of about 30 men off the island after the RAAF evacuated as the japs swarmed the place.

    The RAAF was meant to come back from Darwin and collect them but could not because the planes they were to use were destroyed in the Darwin bombings .

    Bryan was a fair dinkum war hero.If you Google “Rescue at 2100 Hours ” you will see what I mean

    That is the title of a book written by by Bryans grandson Tom Trumble — son of mid 70s Blacks star Simon and Mary Ann Rofe who have been in Melbourne since the late 70s –about the rescue of these disease riddled and dying men by an American submarine .

    No doubt if Rofey Snr had not shown such leadsership they –he included –would have all perished at the hands of the japs before they had a chance to be rescued .

    So ….to some extent leadership traits are influenced by the way one’s ” molecules are put together ” and lie dormant until the their owner is in a leadership position .

    MIght also explain why Paul Rofe is generally regarded as one of the best leaders the Blacks and the State Amateur side ever had.



  220. David Hossen says

    Leadership I believe whether it be a sporting body or corporate office has members with similar goals, values and are in sync with one another. In the case of a sporting club, this is from the board down to the equipment officer.
    A strong leader is someone that can communicate verbally as well as his/her actions on and off the field.
    A leader in the 80’s yelled and demanded his/her team to follow.
    A leader in today’s game, has a leadership group that dilutes the message one person is trying to get across. He/she may have their style and belief, but this is then put to a vote, blended, amended and then delivered.

  221. Rick Harley says


    The “island” referred to in my post earlier today was Timor


  222. Great story Malcolm. agree 100%

  223. Robert Bria says

    There is so much literature on leadership and what it means to be a leader – it’s hard to know where to start. That said, rarely do I look at people involved in elite sport to look for definitions of leadership, although they are undoubtedly out there. Instead I prefer to look at public figures and look at how they became ‘leaders’. It is true that events are shaped by leaders and leaders are shaped by events, but it is also true that leadership is about making sense of those events and providing a clear explanation to the masses about what it means for them. I also think that timing and judgement play a big role in leadership. In other words, when and why leaders do things is just as important as what they do. For example, In October 1962 JFK averted World War 3 with Russia, yet only 11 months later was able to get the Russians to sign a limited atomic bomb test ban treaty. JFK saw the opportunity to turn a global crisis into a diplomatic triumph by using those 11 months to lay the foundation for the treaty with a series of key ‘peace’ speeches in the US and overseas, against the advice of foreign policy ‘hawks’.
    In terms of football, I have never been a fan of the ‘leadership group’ approach to teams. Captains are appointed for a reason – because they are seen as the exemplar of what the team should be about: excellence, discipline, selflessnesness and inspiration.You often hear about a ‘captain’s goal’ being kicked during a tight match, but when was the last time you heard the phrase, “what a great leadership group member goal”? Not the same, is it?

  224. Great article. Leadership is key in all sporting disciplines, especially at an elite level. If you have confidence in your leader, coach or captain you’ll have confidence in your own abilities. It’s a mental game. I recently re-watched HBO’s Band of Brothers. Leadership is the predominant theme throughout. It’s what gets you to the end.

  225. Dave Brown says

    Great thread – yep appreciate the simplicity of bunny’s approach. I would add to that (with all my experience of watching football…) that successful teams have on field leaders that exemplify and enforce those values and non-negotiables. In the 00s if a Central Districts player didn’t follow team rules on the ground it wasn’t the coach they had to worry about at quarter time – it was the Gowans twins on the ground right away. Coaches have got better things to do with their game time than pulling up individual players. The effect is much more immediate and often more effective if a member of their peer group does it on the ground.

  226. Troy McKinnon says

    Some really interesting view points on leadership here folks, good work.

    My take…

    Ultimately leadership is a personal responsibility. In team sports or in business/workplace we often overlook the importance of this point. Too often we look to others for inspiration that should, if your personal ambition is correct, come from within. The best sporting teams are littered with leaders that do not have official title. The most recent Geelong teams, Port Adelaide SANFL late 80’s/early 90’s, the Australian Cricket team 95ish – mid 2000’s all had leaders who, in any given/clutch moment, ‘lived the brand’ and delivered on what the team would expect them to do.

    Good leaders start with clear, purposeful vision. Often not complicated, they then get ‘tip in’ from people they choose to ‘hunt with’ ( people who have the same aims, ideals and work rate as them) and they enforce the vision in living actions. They do not tolerate diluted version of what they value.

    Second, great leaders are honest, if not brutal in feedback. It is widely researched and understood that for critical change to take place, then error correction is vital. Without correction, nothing changes. This type of feedback is often given verbally but in many cases it’s an ‘action’ ( Rehn throwing his knee brace, Steve Waugh standing his ground against Ambrose).

    Next, great leaders promote a ‘push up’ culture. This is in direct contrast to fake leaders who constantly push people down. Great leaders choose carefully the moments that they choose to connect with their people. They promote great confidence in their people, even if they themselves have concern.

    Great leaders do not tolerate people who do not play their part in the greater picture. They promote the importance of understanding that each individual has a role, and that every role has a greater purpose. It is very easy, in a larger working group to lose relevance in the bigger vision, yet it is the small things that are often critical in key moments. This may be the person who becomes the face/brand at any given time. I recall Ben Johnson of Collingwood, having such a moment in the drawn 2010 GF when if he let the ball through a certain St Kilda goal would eventuate in the dying moments. Right then and there, this rather under-rated defender was the ‘football club’ and needed to play his part. Good leaders let people such as Johnson know that they are important. They back them to be the brand when the brand needs protecting.

    Lastly, great leaders fill their own shoes first. Their intentions are to educate, adjust and reinforce behaviours that they themselves believe in. It’s all about walking the talk, and they ensure that their own example is the prototype. Often with a fair degree of charisma!

  227. Stephen Hunt says

    Quite thought provoking and it seems the role of leadership is finally capturing greater attention, both in sport and business. For me, great leaders are born and not made. The test of a great leader is not so much with the everyday stuff, but when the pressure is on. A ‘taught’ leader might be ok with the everyday stuff, but when the heat is really on, the true leader will come to the fore. This is when leadership really counts. It’s the conviction, the self belief in the direction forward that carries others through the trenches. These traits that inspire others are hard to find and I’m pretty sure, even harder to teach/be learnt. I’m sure, leadership skills can to some extent be improved, but fundamentally the DNA needs to be there in the first place. Coupling great leadership skills with great operating skills is therefore rare and worth it’s weight in gold!

  228. Hey Rulebook,

    Awesome topic, someone said, “organisations raise and fall on leadership”. Sport is a great vehicle to seeing leadership in action and at different levels. We can see leadership via leading by title or from inspiration or from values. Great leadership resonates beyond the person but becomes set of values. Leading from values is the greatness form of leadership (as well as misunderstood and undervalued) as once the leader moves on their influence is still left as a legacy. Few reach this level of leadership. Example is what would E J Whitten do to get state AFL footy up and going again?

    The shame about present day Australia is we lack great leadership examples to due the nature of our political system and behaviour. We tend to tear down the opposition and not praise them for success. Attitude of praise enables good leadership to foster and grow. Politics is important is it feeds into so many areas of our everyday lives and how it affects the leaders around us, through our employers, educators, military and other areas of social responsibility.

    However, let’s look at sport, we can look at AFL but I assume the comments above but I’m select the NBA as my setting with their season just finished. We can draw parallels to our great game and other codes.

    1) being paid the most doesn’t mean success – LA Lakers current well over salary cap no recent championships
    2) player size and skill pretty even across a squad of 12 players (you do have superstars) but sizes on average are the same across and well as other key indicators, vertical leap, speed, etc. This is the same on an AFL squad of 44 or more in some cases.
    3) NBA is currently facing a situation of “superstars” pooling to together to win champions (common vision), still yet Miami have “under” performed as on paper you give the the championship ring every year

    Great coaches from the past 20 years stand out;
    1) Phil Jackson, yes he had Jordan but he still had to get the best out of him and keep him focused and get the most out of Rodman, Pippen etc.
    2) Gregg Popovich 17 consecutive post seasons (finals series). Player conditioning

    Both men have been able to lead by personally knowing their players and getting the most from them. They do this by working on the mental space of an athlete, so it not how many baskets they can shoot. They know on their day any player in the NBA can dominate but it what do you over 82 games and then the finals which gets you championships.

    Anyways, I spent more time on this than expected but leadership can come in many forms. We focus in financial leadership to help people set up an economy base for themselves, reducing debt and building wealth. Great leaders are hard to come by so if you find one work with them to improve the world you live in.

    Great topic Rulebook as we’re all LEADERS in some way or form, whether its our sporting clubs we lead, or our own families or even us ourself; We’re leading something and being lead and require great examples of leadership.

    BTW I imagine Bob Neil is still a leader amongst leaders

  229. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thank you some absolutely brilliant comments with fascinating examples above
    Tim D you nailed it ! Sam and Rick Harley thank you greatly appreciated
    Robert Bria v interesting ! Phil D definitely food for thought . Coke both clubs still a long way to go . Troy thank you enjoyed your post and yep , Johnson and Maxwell underrated . Thank you , BJ , BK , Diens , Minners ( good luck to your colt ! ) Barbs ,
    Sambo Lee , SK , Snowy , David H , Robbie , Brad , DB , Hunty , Home Loans .
    Enjoying every 1s thoughts on a subject I love each with there subtle differences
    Thanks Folks !

  230. David Gordon says

    Well done “Malcolm from Highbury”!

    Good to see you getting those “Comments” stats up!

    Congratulations on yet another thought (and response) provoking article by a true “leader” amongst the many Footy Almanac contributors.

    You are getting an amazing number of quality responses. Both comment(s) and response(s) are always a good read.

    Maintain that passion……..”Go the ‘Book!”


  231. . Leadership = G McIntosh. Doer, supporter, protector and led from the front. You are born that way , you can’t make it up.

  232. Rob Wilson says

    There is a great conversation going here Malcolm. I hadn’t read any updates since Feb until tonight. There are many common themes that most seem to refer to in some way or another. Leading by example is the main one for me.
    What has got me thinking is: How do you pick an upcoming leader. You often hear “This one will make a great leader one day” when talking about a new recruit (in sport or business). What is that personality trait of the individual that can make others say this comment – even after only a few days on the job/team. My answer would be that “setting an example for your peers” can be seen as a possible future “leader by example”. ???

  233. Charlie Brown says

    Hi Malcolm

    Yes a good read.

    I have a couple of comments:

    1) you do not need to have a title of captain or coach or manager in order
    to be a “leader”. Everyone in a team can be a leader through their actions,
    words and body language. For example Nathan Lyon – for the most part of his
    career unfairly maligned – was appointed by Hussey as the “spiritual”
    leader of the Aussie test team and now leads the Aussies in victory
    celebrations. So Lyon must display some leadership qualities to his team
    mates which the general TV viewing public does not see

    2) I would also say that a key leadership attribute is having the skill to
    understand what drives each of your team mates. This can be very different
    from person to person. And to drill down even more, often a leader will need
    to deliver the same message quite differently to Team mate A compared with
    Team Mate B.

    Hope this helps.


  234. Malcolm Ashwood says

    In a earlier post , Tom Harley’s book on leadership , Standing tall is recommended I could not agree more it is , OUTSTANDING and does explain to some extent the cats success page , 74 talks about players rising to another level and how imp a part leadership plays in it and shows were other players and clubs don’t measure up ,
    Deledio was the player who smacked me between the eyes in this respect
    A fantastic read could not recommend it more highly

  235. Harry Faulkner says

    The common catch phrase is “Lead by Example”, but what if the players/staff don’t comprehend what that example is? This is where communication becomes a vital element in good leadership. Be able to communicate your goals/targets/expectations to your team and you are on the way to building a team that performs to the best of their abilities. A good leader doesn’t have to be the best player either. A good CEO/Head of a business will look for leadership in everybody, not just a select few. Everybody has leadership qualities in some shape or form, bringing that out in the person is the challenge.

  236. Dave Callaghan says

    l totally agree with your definition of leadership, even one of our great captains, Kepler Wessels, lost his way as a leader when he favoured certain players and allowed them a little leeway. Goals are easier to set in individual type sports, e.g. cricket, tennis, golf etc. but more difficult in team sports e.g. rugby, football. They would need to set team goals and get the buy in from everyone. A captain also needs to be a no nonsense type guy, who has definite plans to achieve and to be succcessful. Clarke’s captaincy unfortunately changes with the style of the coach, which leaves him vulnerable when the coaches change, plus he will lose the repect of the senior players .

  237. Sam McEwen says

    Thought provoking article Rulebook. Has inspired many interesting perspectives

  238. Mike James says

    Inciteful article Book, and enjoyed the veritable plethora of equally inciteful comments, and thanks for inviting me to comment. Most would agree that great leadership in sports equates to creating the environment and conditions for individuals and teams to become the best they can possibly be and get the best result from the talent available. Per the examples given:

    Michael Clarke is an interesting one, as most of us Gen X (me) and older folk struggle to relate to such an aloof, image conscious dude in charge of our cricketing nation. Credit must be accorded to him in spades when he announced his non negotiable aim to be the #1 test nation in the world when we were in the doldrums. That took balls and a lot of vision… and after the Ashes and SAf tour to have walked the walk and be #1 is the result of amazing leadership. Clarke has also clearly learned from big mistakes on the world stage (Bingle, Katich et al). And the culture Boof has instilled flat out works. Does this mean the leadership must resonate with the athletes being led? I’m not sure Chappelli’s ruthlessness would work with today’s team… or Captain Grumpy threatening to put you on the next fckn plane home… and certainly not the militaristic Andy Flower and homeworkgate. Gen Y don’t see that they have a problem and likely never will… so I believe older generations leading them need to resonate, or their message will be lost. It’s also true that every generation of sports folk consider the next generation to be far softer than the hard tough days they played.

    Richmond FC is also interesting. With Dimma in year 5 of a 5 year plan where top 4 and pushing for the flag is non-negotiable, they are awful yet again. To all of us outside the inner sanctum, Gale and Hardwick ‘appear’ solid stand up leadership types you’d want at your club. Measure them by a result other than ‘appear’ or ‘looks like’ and what do you get? Nothing but failure. Gale’s hands are tied here though, as Richmond’s history tells us that automatically sacking Dimma now only adds to instability that has plagued that club for years. Thus Gale has to make the most important leadership decision of his tenure. That said, He must currently be held accountable for selecting/staying with Hardwick, who is undoubtedly a great leader with 6 consecutive minor premierships and 2 flags in his playing days and assisting coaching the 08 Hawk fkag, but its about results.

    St Kilda and Freo players who’ve played under Ross Lyon will all state unequivocally that they “buy in” to his game plan, vision and leadership style. Hinkley is building a similar reputation. And they are both ruthless uncompromising older men leading Gen Y athletes. Those 2 leaders have adapted… if you’re unable to, the players will appear disinterested and the exercise will be futile. i.e. the great EJ or John Kennedy stripping the paint off the Chardonnay Socialist change rooms is unlikely to result in an improved second half.

    My $0.10 worth is the most important 2 ingredients of a very complex beast in today’s climate is earning the respect of the individuals to whom you’re delivering the message, and getting buy-in from individuals and the group. Without those ingredients, the most noble vision in the world cannot be achieved.

    I pretty much agree with everything Tom Martin and Nick Raschelli said!


  239. Chris Reed says


    Great article and well written, all the points you have stated from the Olympic Athletes, to the AFL stars. People constantly forget leadership skills and techniques can be learned. You don’t have to be a natural leader. Very few people are. The short statements below are some of the key aspects to becoming a successful leader. I have learnt a lot of them working closely with the older generation at sporting clubs around Adelaide.

    •Care for your team. That means knowing what matters to each member: their health, their partner, their children, their relatives, their interests, their hopes, their fears.

    •Stay close to your team. At some point, every day, walk around the office and say “Hi” to everyone who works for you. If you’re not in the office that day, call and see how people are. This gives you a chance to enquire or encourage and gives them an opportunity to raise issues or make suggestions.

    •Meet your team. Regularly – daily, weekly or monthly, depending on your place and type of work – have meetings of all the members of the team. Keep these meetings short, focused and action-orientated. Make sure every member of the team contributes in some way and acknowledge that.

    •Train your team. Every team member should have at least two days training a year. Newer and more senior colleagues should have more. If they don’t ask to go on training sessions, suggest some suitable courses.

    •Grow your team. Through varied experience and regular training, you should be developing each team member to be more and more confident and more skilled.

    •Inspire your team. Consider making available a motivational quote or story every week or month [for lots of good quotes click here].

    •Celebrate with your team. This might be a personal event, such as a member’s birthday or anniversary, or a professional occasion, such as completing a project or winning a contract.

    •Socialise with your team. Have lunch or an after-work drink with them, especially when a member has a birthday or there’s another reason to celebrate.

    •Set objectives for each team member. As far as possible, these objective such be SMART – Specific Measurable Achievable Resourced Timed.

    •Review the performance of each team member. At least once a year – at least quarterly for the first year of a new team member – have a review session where you assess performance, give feed-back and agree future objectives and training.

    •Thank constantly. The words “Thank you” take seconds to say, but mean so much.

    •Praise constantly. The words “Well done” take seconds to say, but will be long remembered and appreciated.

    •Communicate constantly. Don’t assume that people know what you’re doing, still less what you are planning or thinking. Tell them, using all the communication tools to hand: team briefings, electronic newsletters, organisational newspapers.

    •Eliminate. Too often we do things because they’ve always been done. Life changes. Consider whether you could stop doing certain things altogether.

    •Delegate. You don’t have to do everything. Develop your team members by training them to do more and trusting them to take over some of the things you’ve been doing.

    •Empower. A really effective leader sets clear objectives for his team members, but leaves detailed implementation of these objectives to the discretion and judgement of individual members of the team. As Second World War U.S. General George S. Patton put it: “Don’t tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results”.

    •Facilitate. A confident leader does not try to micro-manage his team, but makes it clear that, if team members need advice or assistance, he is always there to facilitate and support.

    •Be on time. Always start meetings on time and finish them on time. Natural breaks keep people fresh. Short meetings concentrate the mind.

    •Be seen. Don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk. So visit each unit or department for which you are responsible on a regular basis. Don’t do this unannounced – you are not out to undermine other leaders or catch out staff. So arrange with the unit leader or departmental head when you’ll visit and ask him or her to walk round with you.

    •Make time. Managers are often very busy and this can deter people from approaching you, so make time for people and be approachable. People will appreciate you taking five minutes out of your busy schedule, especially if you act on/listen to what they say.

    •Really listen. Many of us – especially those who think they are important – don’t really listen, but instead think about what they’re going to say next. Give the person speaking to you your full attention and really take on board what they are saying. [For more detailed advice on listening click here]

    •Accept honest criticism. Criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger – but it’s a powerful tool of learning. Above all, assess criticism on merit, without regard to its originator.

    •Think strategically. The doers cut a path through the jungle; the managers are behind them sharpening the machetes; the leaders find time to think, climb the nearest tree, and shout “Wrong jungle!” Find time to climb the trees.

    •Have a mentor or buddy, someone doing similar work in the same or a similar organisation with whom you can regularly and frankly discuss your progress and your problems as a leader.

  240. David Searles says


    There are some really impressive comments notations and views its makes for great reading and learning. I do note the last comment by Chrs Reed that and I quote “People constantly forget leadership skills and techniques can be learned. You don’t have to be a natural leader. Very few people are.” unquote. I am not sure I agree.

    I graduated from the Royal Miltary College Duntroon in the late 80’s supposedly the senior leadership and management college of Australia. Well I have to admit that only a very small percentage of graduates from my class were ever what I would consider leaders, oh we can all say we lead or we can learn it or learn to be a leader. But to be a true rue leader its in you its your genes, thoughts, views, ideals it comes natural. You dont have to think about; Care for your team, Stay close to your team, Meet your team, Train your team, Grow your team, Inspire your team, Celebrate with your team, Socialise with your team, Set objectives for each team member, Review the performance of each team member, etc etc etc. These are all well and good and a great list of actions or duties to apply (almonst straight out of a book, some smart jock has written) but a ‘learned leader’ will eventually let these slip or will be robotic in how he actions the ideas, they will not be natural and people will see through the what I would call a facade.

    I deployed into northern Iraq for 8 months in 2004/05 Iraq with a team of exceptional Officers, Warrant Officers and Sargeants. It was a sobering experience and a realisation of what true leadership is all about in particular when you may commit someone to a situation which could lead to loss of life.

    Albeit committing people to the sporting field does not have the same risks, it is the same principals, total commitment and respect for the leader to achieve that leaders outcomes. Subordinates whom have total respect for their leaders would throw themselves in front of a car or in my case in front of a bullet because the ‘boss’ said so and because you as the subordinate fully respect that the boss has consider all of the risks, issues and requirements and is prepared to go over the wall with you, into that occupied building, take on the enemy or go onto the footy field or sporting field toally commited to what the boss/leader/coach wants to achieve.

    Chris Reed not in any way shape or form am I having a go at you or your views but yours was the latest and easiest to shape my views against, completely respect your thoughts and ideals. I think to throw your thoughts and views out into the public arena is showing great leadership in itself and all are appreciative
    Hope this all makes a litle bit of sense, a great network of views and ideals – impressive.

    Well done Malcolm for taking carraige of such an interesting subject.

  241. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks guys some more fantastic and we’ll thought comments !
    Harry yep COMMUNICATION is the key
    Dave Callaghan ( ex South African cricketer ) a very interesting in site in to the proteas set up and of your opinion in to Michael Clarke !
    Thanks Smack
    Mike James v interesting comment re Richmond and I must admit reading Tom Harley’s book Standing Tall re leadership ( which is brilliant !) I think if the tigers could introduce the cats rules and beliefs outlined on page 74 I wonder how much they would improve ( the bombers fiasco wouldn’t have happened at cat land either )
    Ross Lyon , Jack Kennedy or EJ would struggle re coaching the Chardys !
    Chris Reed interesting post I must disagree re you don’t have to be a natural leader yes you can learn and improve but I reckon the basic gene must be present in the 1st place , the points you make about listening and manners are spot on after all the words , Please and Thank You are the most unspoken words in the , English language
    Dave I agree with your comments re a learned leader but the most important thing was your comments re being posted in , Iraq and reminding us all on the knackery that war is the real deal and sport is just a game Thank You Folks !

  242. G’day Malcolm , I’m a bit old school when it comes to this topic , I like the standard captain / vice capt. PartNership as leaders of a group of men , handing too much responsibility and ownership to young players is risky in my opinion . Some players like to use this as a way to shy away from the real truth about there performance. Two or three strong experienced players is best in my opinion . Players that lead by example on the field , the rest will follow.Too many chiefs not enough Indians is no good , Cheers

  243. Excellent topic Rulebook. One of the key attributes in leadership I think is leading the way when required to but without question equality, harmoniy and friendship amongst the team is crucial. This is where the likes of Clarke & Warne went wrong. This is why Warner will never be a leader. The best leaders are not often the best players. Look at Mike Brearley; probably the best skipper of my lifetime. He averaged 22 with the bat in his test career, but took England from despair to best in the world. He revitalised Ian Botham and others. The quote attributed to him which I think sums up leadership is that he “had a degree in people.”

  244. Nice read book. Agree re clarkey. Great player, tactically the best captain in the game currently with an ability to read the nuances and alter the flow of a match to his advantage. Leads by example and gets the best out of certain types of men on the field but not all which is why he has been (justifiably so) criticised. That said, he has always been his biggest critic and has modified his game to improve. I have no doubt that this is another area where he will also succeed. It will be made easier in part because the team around him has recently been, and will continue to be, far younger and less experienced and thus inherently looking for a dominant leader to follow.

    Give me a free in front of goal on the weekend will you.

  245. Jamie McPhee says

    Malcolm, a well written article and one in which I totally agree with your thoughts and comments. I have a strong belief that leadership has to be “values based” rather than “rules based” I.e. set down the non-negotiables and then have the courage to hold everyone to account in relation to them. One the framework has been set empower everyone to be a leader inside the same.

  246. Leadership for mine is not so tangible, good leaders will always be followed into the trenches in whatever war they go to! They share plenty of common traits as you alluded to, some natural, some learned in life thru experience.Great read Malcolm

  247. A great article love your thoughts v interesting which had certainly has some fantastic comments a fantastic read on both accounts thank you Malcolm

  248. Great read r book your thoughts are interesting and sport smart we’ll done and some great comments on the article thank you

  249. Living and working in China has opened my eyes. Big business is generally run by extremely rich people with very good connections to the government, nothing happens if don’t know someone. In terms if communication, if it occurs it is limited and generally involves yelling at someone. No one asks questions if they don’t understand as they will cause them to loose face. I’m lucky I have a boss who doesn’t subscribe to this, I think she’s not really Chinese!!!!

  250. Great article and some v interesting comments made on it , Malcolm . Poor leadership has a enormous effect on business and sporting clubs , in general it is where ego and the want to be important and recognised gets in the way of common sense , people interfere in areas in which they are not qualified and usually are not asked to , resulting in disastrous consequences for all involved happens time and time again . The statement 1 poor decision undoes 10 good ones is so true .

  251. Great article Rulebook if only the panthers had displayed more leadership and concentration against the redlegs last friday it could have been a different result
    Damn it !

  252. Ben Reichstein says

    Great read, thanks Mal.

    I believe there isn’t one superior type of leadership, history shows that all kinds of leadership types have been successful at one time or another, in one sport or another. Instead I believe leadership success stories come from leaders who’s leadership style, ethos and principles best suits the team or situation at a point in time. This leader is most likely to also be adaptable to a given situation and have the ability to evolve over time as the team demographic changes and personalities within a team change. Having played cricket under a number of different captains and also been at the helm of various teams I have learnt that the best leaders simply just find a way to lead regardless of the team make up or situation. Leaders who endeavor to find out what style best suits a situation, which style best inspires each player etc are the leaders who achieve the most success. Sometimes success shouldn’t just be measured against winning a premiership, sometimes the best leaders merely lead an average team to achieve results that many thought were impossible.

  253. Times have changed with leadership and coaches and the days of the old fashion coach, bark and yell and do exactly what he says are gone and with change comes imperfection

  254. Craig (Piggy) Muldoon says

    I think that there is a clear distinction between leadership and management. Management is telling people what to do and comes with a formal position. Leadership on the other hand does not need a formal position and can be exhibited by anybody within a team. It is about consistent actions that adhere to a set of principles that are clearly and regularly stated to others. The best teams are those with many leaders adhering to the same and agreed set of principles to the point where this could be considered a culture. From my knowledge, I think the Sydney Swans are the best performing team in this aspect.

  255. David Bean says

    Hi Malcolm, A very enjoyable read Through my work have attended many leadership courses / presentations and heard a million different thoughts on what leadership actually means. The best and simplest definition I have heard and like is “leadership is identifying something isn’t as it should be and taking the necessary actions to change it”. Personally and looking at it from my current coaching role and with a group of 16 to 18 years olds leadership is centred around “example setting” be that behaviours or taking ownership of a situation.

  256. Graham Cornes says

    Interesting topic, but the last line poses the biggest question: “What is leadership?” The answer is as complicated as the question is simple. Different things to different people I suspect. Obviously the leadership of a coach is different to that of a captain or that of a senior or junior player, all of whom are capable of leading. And there is the paradox that great leaders have not always led successful teams, whereas some dopes have.
    Maybe, just maybe , leadership is over-rated.

  257. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Hi Graham it is a fascinating topic I am more going the other way and feel it is vital ,
    Maxwell not a great player but a fantastic leader and Collingwood are going to struggle with out him for a while . It is also been interesting to hear from around the traps ( which I am sure you have also ) on how much , Van Berlo has been missed I am sure this has contributed to ,
    Adelaide’s inconsistency . Cricket wise Lehmann has made a huge difference in so many ways interesting in that having the players more relaxed is almost the key 1
    I have come to the conclusion that good leadership is important , poor leadership is a killer
    Eg ( aust swimming team at the last Olympics )
    Thanks Graham

  258. Darryl Smith says

    Hi Malcom yes very well written, the comments re the swim team are spot on, no leadership off field and a black day in London, but also at the end of the day the are elite athletes and should know the right from wrongs Alan Jeans ‘ He didn’t push; he led” famous quote by Jason Dunstal, in coaching I believe anyone who is an innovator, willing to experiment to make his team more effective, is a true leader.

  259. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Darryl and totally agree

  260. Colin Till says

    I think ths crows have been lacking the leadership from coaching point of view with the loss of Dean Bailey and on field in the absence of VB

  261. Malcolm Ashwood says

    I totally agree , Colin it is looking more and more that the late , Dean Bailey was the tactical nous of the crows . The respect with in the football industry , VB has is immense was doing some coaching with a guy who works for the pies a few weeks ago who made the point , VB would captain a lot of the clubs in the competition , ( a tiger employee has made similar comments ) , having got to no him a bit it is interesting to observe the respect he is held in by all of the crows players a elite leader just like , Nick Maxwell

  262. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Plan prepare study game awareness look after your mate on and the ground fight together
    Look after one another
    Respect at all times
    Committ key performance indicators
    What do you stand , for what do you want to develop
    Small groups feedback
    Nobody cares how much you no until they no how much you care
    Manager some notes from a leadership course conducted by Darren Berry
    Thoughts any 1 ?

  263. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Did he say anything about flogging a dead horse?

  264. Malcolm Ashwood says

    On the night he was good , Swish disappointing since as he said he would send training drills and suggestions I no this will surprise you but I have chased him up since numerous times still waiting

  265. Hi Malcolm,
    Thank you for sending me the link. Very interesting topic, for a couple of reasons. Personally, I have just completed a leadership course through work, “Manage to Lead”. We worked on what is leadership and what is management, explored them both, and here are my thoughts. You can’t have one without the other. A good manager is not necessarily a good leader, and the reverse is also true. In my course we also looked at our personality types, and it was interesting to note that the differences of personalities within the group did not define who may or may not be a good manager or leader. Each of us (a group of 24) had something to offer in so many diverse ways to our management or leadership roles. We each had different skill sets and experience in our sector, and our roles varied greatly although we all work for the same organisation. My belief is that some leaders are born and some are developed, given the right environment. For successful leadership you need to be surrounded by skilled people who have “bought in” to your ideas or direction. The support you receive as a leader is integral to success.
    Which brings me to (and isn’t this timely?) Adelaide FC and the Board’s decision to sack Sanderson. Do you feel this is an example of good leadership by the Club?

  266. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Charmaine great question 1 Appalling leadership in giving , Sanderson a 2 year contract extension effectively a couple of months in to his existing contact , football clubs in particular are so often guilty of . In what other job is any 1 given a extension so short in to a contract of there employment and then sacked effectively winning x lotto a million dollar pay out for nothing . INCOMPETENT LEADERSHIP
    In relation to his sacking there seems to be a lot of factors involved player dissatisfaction , judged to be poor tactically and not having improved which contributed to so many close losses this season ,( surely this is the whole coaching box ) . In relation to the player dissatisfaction poor and lack of communication has been a accusation that some players weren’t spoken to for a couple of weeks which to my mind is extraordinary in that it is there full time job there should be enough time to communicate with every player . So summing up in some regards shocking leadership in so many ways ( lack of checking by the chief executive etc ) the Tippett affair in reality the crows have been a basket case in so many ways may be the latest act is the 1st part of positive leadership , not really sure yet with I am sure so many more things to surface yet thanks , Charmaine

  267. I too, find it astounding that players weren’t spoken to for a couple of weeks! I wonder if the rumblings around Dangerfield perhaps leaving the club (he might have been one of those that were dissatisfied) had something to do with it all. The club would desperately want to hold onto him with good reason.
    Hopefully they find some strong leadership which will bring stability to the club, and success.

  268. Yeah there are some really well made points in this piece Malcolm. Leadership is essential and for the most goes hand in hand with success. Only on the seemingly rare occasion I feel teams are so in tune with each other that it is as if they coach themselves. But in saying that it takes great leadership to allow such sides the free reign to excel. The problem faced by those in leadership roles over athletes is that every athlete is different therefore have different triggers in order to bring out their true potential. Leadership needs to be diverse to accommodate all those within the squad. Gone are the days of the one leader. The successful leaders of today delegate responsibility to equally competent right hand men/women which in turn brings balance and stability to the squad by spreading the load and bringing the needed diversity. Yep intresting stuff for sure Malcom… Well done!!

  269. Malcolm Rulebook Ashwood says

    Interesting read Malcolm. Enjoyed the continued dialogue & expansion of this intriguing topic through the many, many readers’ contributions. Would love you to get Jane Woodlands-Thompson’s thoughts on leadership in the 21st century + does leadership have the same qualities in female team sports? Tania Obst (Aust U/21 coach & Brad Ebert’s aunt) would also offer an interesting perspective. Keep writing!! Megan x

  270. Peter Chenoweth says

    Yep. Another really good article. The summary has many of the hallmarks I measure myself against in business. You need to be fearless and as you say ruthlessly execute your plan, but never scared to change your mind and along the way just to save face and make sure you listen to everyone. You mention Keith Thomas. Ive met him socially quite a few times as we have friends in common. Really nice bloke. First time I met him im not sure what he thought when I asked him if he still circles the K on his signature…..

  271. debbie blades says

    Yay. Loved your column. Not enough is said about how much leadership is responsible for a teams accomplishments. Take luke hodge for example, look at the success of hawthorn. Those results dont come from a lack lustre effort from the leadership. Luke provides leadership by his clear strong values and the team responds by getting results. I like norwoods values and young people today clearly need strong direction.

  272. Loved this article, very well written.

    Here is my summary of true leadership, summed up in this short video.




  273. To be completely honest with you man, Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another. A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them. You must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them. A leader is going to have to follow and learn from the mistakes and success of those who held the leadership role before him. Credibility is huge if a leader is going to be chosen for anything. If a team ever fails i would say that most of the time its not the team that fails its their coach and leader guiding them the wrong way. That coach needs to be developing the team but at the same time develop himself .

  274. over 2 years ago i partnered with a business team that has a huge focus on developing leaders of leaders and associating with the right people and receiving the right books and information to self educate on leadership. Leadership is influence. You determine a great leader just look at those who have chosen to follow him.

  275. Cameron Glenn says

    Great article.

    Leadership is important for any industry to grow, improve, stay strong and stay alive. Whether the leadership has a CEO, manager, captain, chief or whatever, I believe they do need to be the best they can be, able to communicate with their staff, followers etc and lead forward. To be successful, leadership has to be right. Most companies, clubs etc need to have multiple leaders in different areas.

    Using Port Adelaide as an example, the club struggled for years after the 2007 grand final going down to 16th in 2011 and while rising to 14th in 2012, the loss to struggling GWS was enough to swing the axe. The club already had Keith Thomas as CEO who so far has been a big asset to them notably after the passing of John McCarthy, he had to inform the players about it, a task that would be very tough. Going into the 2013 season with a new president, David Koch, new coach, Ken Hinkley and change of captain in Travis Boak, the club made finals for the first time since 2007 and backed it up in 2014. Kochie’s influence as president helped to secure sponsors like Renault and Energy Australia. The club had no big sponsors in the ‘dark days’. Ken had coached the players to be winners and Travis Boak feels like one of the better captains to lead a club into having a winning culture. Well loved, popular, good footballer and great leader just like Joel Selwood and Luke Hodge. Darren Burgess should get a mention as he has made the players fit. Strong leadership has turned the PAFC from basket case to premiership contender. Struggling clubs should take notice, Melbourne I am looking at you!

    Strong leadership = success! Anyone can be successful!

  276. Good article that looks at leadership from various angles. I am not a follower of Aussie sport and so will not be able to comment on individuals. However, the points you bring on leadrrship are really good. Yes, the leader must take the team and ensure that it plays to win. The will to win is actually refusing to lose. No leader can plan without this will. If they do, then the team goes into a list of “also participated in the game”. However, it is essential to clearly define what success looks like.

    There are various aspect like communication, the ability to remain a human being (i.e.willing to recognize that you as a leader will make mistakes), lead based on issues, etc. & these are well covered in the article or in the comments.

    Good article..please keep writing and also contribute at the Leadership Forum.

  277. All psychological these days. A role model too.
    Michael Clarke no role model as far as I am concerned.
    Bertrand, Matthews Waugh Rafter Meninga Bradman Laver effective leaders an respected.

    Nice write up Mal.

  278. Vijay Gawde says

    “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” ~Winston Churchill

    Getting knocked around by failures is never fun or easy, but this advice from Churchill reminds us that it’s vital that you remain enthusiastic when facing your next venture or you can expect more of the same. It’s not an easy task, but it’s clear to see that if you let your defeats get you down you only make it harder to get that next success under your belt. Make an effort to get enthusiastic about your current endeavor, regardless of how many times you’ve fallen short in the past. This is sure to result in a success or two, which builds momentum and makes it easier to get excited about what you’ll do next.

  279. to me steve waugh was a great leader. he re-instilled tradition and in my eyes he gave the team backbone. a leader takes it upon themselves to set the standards for all to follow. anything less will not be tolerated.

  280. Mick Alldis says

    I think great leaders get their team/ followers to all pull together and have the same vision or goal. One thing that can derail a team quickly though is instability – sure they are a team, but often they are made up of individuals fighting for a place in the team… you lose some game, people get replaced and all of a sudden they are fighting for their place – often losing sight of the team goal or bigger picture.
    A well balanced or stable team has that luxury of being able to settle in (with some hiccups along the way) …. the likes of Ponting; Warne; Gilchrist and McGrath were the cornerstones of a great era whereby players knew they were ‘safe’. These are testing times for Clarke- here is hoping his style of leadership can bring these shattered men back together with some steely resolve to play the game hard & tough… in the spirit of their fallen mate. I hope he leads them well….

  281. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Australian sport has gone through the most unfathomable thing in our history with the death of Phillip Hughes. In my opinion we have had the greatest leadership in sports history as well. Michael Clarke has been amazing in not only his support of the family, ALL the cricketers involved in the game etc. but also his support of the East Torrens CC (Hughes’ SA district side). Let’s be honest, we all had our doubts about some aspects of his leadership eg Katich, Symonds etc. but since the moment Hughes was struck he has provided statesman like leadership. Personally I am now in awe of him.
    (ironic, T Bone, I had spoken to JTH this morning about this)

  282. Wonderful passion, Rulebook. You’re one of the good uns. Yeah, Clarkes leadership in this most difficult period had been inspirational to many. Illustrated exactly why leadership matters.

  283. Chris Thredgold says

    I think well summed up, I think fairly accurate, a team with multiple personalities does require good leadership and boundaries to work within, but not too much to squash an individual’s unique qualities

  284. As a tiger fan, I’m thinking Trent Cotchin is growing into the role perfectly. Has the support there now from a rejuvenated Riewoldt, a reliable Maric and an outspoken Chaplin. His leadership is a huge reason we’re now not losing to teams like GWS/Carlton in the last 2 weeks.

  285. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Seags Leadership Chaplin and Boz Moloney on a par ,imo.tragedy has bought out the best in Riewolt the dummy spits and petulance has gone and leadership is now emerging.the leadership in the afl in general has been brilliant re,Phil Walsh Alistair Clarkson idea and then organising all the players to link arms was fantastic and Dane Swan immediately to point out after losing that the result of the game was irrelevant are perfect examples

  286. If we’e talking about leadership the next few weeks will define Michael Clarke as captain of Australia. Let’s hope it goes well for him, because entering the series a red-hot favourite, only to lose the opening test in four days, will prove a stern test of leadership if we wish to retain the Ashes.


  287. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Glen I totally agree it smacked of bitterly disappointing over confidence by the australian camp
    I am heavily involved in cricket and the amount of things and leadership which,Michael Clarke has done behind the scenes for so many people re,Phillip Hughes has been staggering.huge test for,Clarke and the aussies to fight back

  288. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Patrick Dangerfield provided us Sat night one of the greatest displays of leadership in Aust sporting history.i no that is a huge call but in the most emotional game of sport ever afte,West Coast threatened to blow the crows out of the water he almost single handedly got every crows player to jump aboard we will never no how the game would have panned out if he did not get Inj and then the emotion which burst out afterwards he is in the absolute elite of the game

  289. Sam Penniment says

    Great rulebook, I think leadership is a highly subjective thing to which the ideal leader for each individual can be different. Some like the awe inspiring leaders like Luke Hodge others may like strong communicators but perhaps less heroic captains such as bob Murphy. Both in my eyes are great captains but their value may differ depending on the circumstances. Similarly I think Gary Ablett would make a great captain in geelong given his skill and their strong culture, however I feel his beliefs and attitudes are devisive for the younger gold coast team which has a weaker culture and lack of additional leadership

  290. Kate Marshall says

    great article,and very true, in everything leadership is the essence of how a group performs and deals with things, I work in health & leadership for us in this time of huge change has been abysmal, hence so many people leave the profession or sabotage changes

  291. I liked the article and I have to say that my leadership experience comes from both the sport and business worlds.

    In sport, I go back far enough to remember Bob McLean running the show off field at Port Adelaide. On Saturdays, he would be standing in front of the Alberton stands and I doubt anybody in the place was unaware of his views! In conjunction with Fos Williams, they set the tone, handed it onto John Cahill and I have always been a firm believer that football club success starts off field. Hence the long circus at Glenelg and other AFL places you mention. I would still like S Trigg back at the Cows as I thought while he was there, progress would be poor! Port have been through some dry gullies over the years and it can mostly be put down to poor periods of administration in my view.

    I am also a strong believer in leadership by example. (I cite here the example of Gary McIntosh of the Norwoods). In my working life as a Valuer, I started off under the supervision of a bloke who was a “do as I say, not as I do” operator; giving orders while lazing about himself. Next was a bloke who said little, but simply got to work, head down, stop for lunch, head down again, go home. Very little was said, but one simply followed his example, because everybody else in his group did so. Not much was said, as he communicated his “non-negotiables” clearly and rarely needed to repeat them.

    Over my last 10 years, supervising up to 12 young whippersnappers, I tried to lead the same way. I think it worked reasonably well (we started with 3), they knew what the rules were and that I didn’t care too much what else they did as long as work was done properly and on time. They had flexibility in their day, but results had to be there at the end of the day. Your comments re Michael Clarke are good, he seemed to not quite fit the mould didn’t he?

    So to summarise, I reckon leadership by example is the best way, people respond when they see others putting in and such people usually have their principles pretty well sorted out, with little need to rant and rave. In private enterprise, I usually found those who made the most noise about their integrity or professionalism, had the least of either.

    Sorry about the length of this, I have much enjoyed finding footyalmanac.com.au in recent times and would encourage you and the others to keep up the good work.

  292. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Sam entirely agree v well put thanks,Kate your subject is a article in itself.Paul fantastic comment
    Bob McLean and Wally Miller were true leaders and brilliant examples.Loved your examples of work leadership of the poor kind do as I say not as I do and the jump on board follow me kind
    very well articulated thank you ( love personal comments re leadership thank you !)

  293. “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
    (Peter Drucker)

  294. Lachlan Waterman says

    Solid piece ‘book. A few quotes ring true for me:
    “A fish rots from the head down.” Look at most successful organisations and they are well run from the top down. Think Wally Miller, Bob McLean in the “glory days” of the Sanfl.
    My other favourite is Leadership is an ACTION not a title. It seems these days any player who can get to the ground on time and successfully parallel park is deemed to be “showing great leadership”, so I agree with Studley, it’s an over used word and perhaps intangible.

  295. Tony Wilson says

    Very interesting article, captaincy and leadership has always intrigued me…. I was was only young (10ish) when Chappelli was capt… I have recently reread his books, and one about his last year as SA capt….. he was a remarkable capt.
    Wayne Bennett in the NRL and obviously Ferguson at Man U are/were great leaders.
    There are so many aspects to it, and not many can tick all the boxes. IMO Waugh had the man management skills, but tactically was hopeless, Clarke probably the other way around. Tubby andFleming has it all…
    To me Brearley (my fav) is interesting, he had the ‘father figure’ respect/distance over Botham, Gower, Willis etc…… Chappell earnt his respect….. maybe that’s why Boycott clashed with him

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