Updated: Feb 13, 2020
Over the next couple of months, I will be hosting Breakfasts in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. An intimate boardroom setting of 14 will provide a conversational environment to discuss leadership, resilience, the simple keys of high-performance systems, etc. Please contact by email if you would like to attend and more information will then be provided.
Strengthen your Strengths
As the new year begins professional sporting clubs and businesses alike will be preparing in anticipation and excitement that 2020 will be their year! An integral part of these preparations will have been a review of the previous year. I have been involved in many reviews over the years and have experienced the highs and lows of the results that followed. One of the most important lessons I have learned is to first review yourself and then your people. And, when you believe you have the right people in place, empower them to use their strengths.
When we review our organisations and performances levels, it is critical to have a reset process. Start from the beginning, identify the strengths and weaknesses (I like to call them improvement areas) and prioritise their importance and the amount of time and resources to be applied to them in the future. My belief, which has been a learning process personally, is that the majority of future focus should be applied to strengthening existing strengths. We often get bogged down on everything that needs improving and lose effectiveness. And as we start to chase our own tails trying to rectify all weaknesses, former strengths start to appear as improvement areas in the next review.
In the NRL one of the Brisbane Broncos strengths has always been recruitment. The club has a substantial network of scouts in Australia and New Zealand. During my time there, we also ran development squads throughout Queensland and Northern NSW. After an extensive review, it was discovered that our best results in recruitment had come from South East Queensland – South Brisbane and Logan to be exact. However, this was an area that had been neglected and other NRL clubs had put systems in. Sounds simple I know, but our strength in recruitment had been taken for granted. This was rectified quickly as we restructured our resources.
One of my favourite anecdotes is about Liverpool FC and their manager Jurgen Clop. The German was recruited in the early part of the 2015 – 2016 EPL season after the proud club had fallen down the ladder. Liverpool had invested heavily in analytics and a Welshman named Ian Graham was their chief analyst. Graham had helped the club hire the new manager through his extensive research on the style of play Clop had implemented in the German League. As Clop conducted his initial review he was fascinated at the depth of knowledge and data that Graham could produce and how he used it not just for game analysis but recruitment as well. Clop had not been a great believer in analytics but immediately recognised Grahams department as a strength and increased his influence. Before the 2017-2018 season Graham convinced his manager to purchase a little-known Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah from Roma, Italy for €41 million. Eyebrows were raised as Salah had been let go by Chelsea FC in 2014 after scoring only 2 goals in 13 appearances over 2 seasons. Clop trusted Graham’s judgement and data which suggested that Salah would be a success playing in the current Liverpool team. Salah broke the EPL record scoring 32 goals and was valued at €173 million. Last season Liverpool won their sixth Champions league title and finished 2nd in the EPL. At present, they are runaway leaders and look destined to win the upcoming EPL title.
As a leader, reviewing yourself first is vital. Having a clear understanding of personal strengths and improvement areas creates authenticity. As a result, it is easier to innovate and affect change management within your organisation. Manage the weaknesses but don’t forget about the strengths – this is where genuine success and longevity are founded. Strengthen your strengths. Good luck in 2020.