The Road to Glory Starts at the Top

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It’s no secret that 2020 has been a year of uncertainty. A year of unprecedented change that no one could ever have expected.

But for everything our country has endured, lessons have been learnt and we have been reminded of the true meaning of gratitude.

Despite the challenges and amidst the disarray, the 2020 AFL season went on. There is no doubt it was a season like no other, with new records being set and ‘first time ever’ moments going down in the history books. A season like no other ending with a 13th Richmond Premiership, the club’s third in just four years.

For many Australian’s, AFL plays a big part in our lives. The year round banter between fans and the Friday nights spent behind the TV have us all embracing a common passion. But as business owners and leaders, there is so much we can learn from our beloved game, both personally and professionally.

Football fans may remember a time when the Richmond Football Club was a struggling club, with poor on-field performance and crippling debt. So how in less than a decade have they turned themselves around to become one of the most successful teams this generation have seen.

After attending a program in the US, Richmond Football Club coach, Damian Hardwick returned to the club with a new look on leadership. A new perspective that allowed him to embrace his imperfections and expose his vulnerability.

Bringing this new outlook back to the club saw the beginning of bigger things. Hardwick worked closely with club members and players to devise a new game plan, one of respect, self-awareness and trust.

Throughout this process, Hardwick led by example. Firstly putting himself in the arena, followed by bringing those around him in to join the journey.

Visions and strategies were devised and were communicated across the entire board and playing field, ensuring clarity and ownership. Conversations allowed for each and every player to understand the key role they played in achieving the club goals and displayed the trust in each individual to perform their part.

The next stage of the plan was to embrace a culture within the club that encouraged respect among the playing group, both on the field and off. Again, Hardwick led by example, returning from his course in the US and opening up to his team about what was most valuable to him; his family, exposing his raw feelings and showing his vulnerable side.  

There is no doubt that AFL Hub Life in 2020 saw close bonds between players and families formed, however was it this culture that had already been embedded within the Richmond Football Club that contributed to their victory?

Further to embedding a culture of respect, Hardwick challenged the mindset of his players. He worked with them to improve their self-awareness and accept their mistakes as opportunities rather than errors. He encouraged them to celebrate their wins and acknowledge their achievements, building a strong rapport among the group.

“Behind every coach, are fantastic coaching staff” – Damian Hardwick, Richmond Football Club Premiership Coach

On accepting their recent Premiership, Hardwick stated that ‘behind every coach, are fantastic coaching staff’. A true testament to the leadership provided by the management group of any team, organisation or business.

When direction is clear, communicated effectively and demonstrated by example, success is achievable. By taking those around you on a journey, trusting them to deliver on their role and embedding a culture of respect, victory could be yours, just like the Richmond Football Club.

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