Cricket coach shares leadership tips

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The hugely successful Australian cricket coach, John Buchanan, graced the South West chamber of commerce last Thursday and shared his five tips for leaders.

Alice Lanford, John Buchanan, Roger Taufel
President Alice, John Buchanan and Manager Roger at the SW Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

His relaxed style and bottomless kit bag of yarns kept the members of the commerce glued to his talk right up until the 8:30 curfew, when some of us had to run away to open the doors of our own businesses. There was still an excited crowd around the man as I drove off.

Part of the fascination was the level of personal honesty he portrayed as he discussed the life journey that he took which eventually led to his coaching of the Australian cricket team. “Taking a good hard look at yourself and working out who you are, is absolutely essential if you are going to excel at anything,” he said.

Knowing your vision is the first rule in Buchanan’s five pillars of success. Understand your vision clearly. Be absolutely sure of it with every fibre of your being, be able to describe it in ten seconds, and be happy that your whole life is going to revolve around it.

Powerful as this message was on its own, coming from a man who has excelled at the pinnacle of international sport, it reinforced the key message at the COSBOA business breakfast covered by Westender in July. (see related story –

The logic is simple. The focus and determination required to succeed require a single mindedness that simply cannot exist if you have doubts, second thoughts or other distractions that take your focus off the game.

Knowing who you are and what you want is the starting point for all of life’s endeavours.

The other four pillars took much less time to lay out. Partly because they are less important, partly I expect because this presentation was a little shorter than those he is used to giving and he needed to abbreviate his schtick to get us out the door on time.

Leadership culture comes next. Buchanan’s point is that the organisation follows the leader. What the leader does, so will the organization. The leader’s behaviour, then, determines the culture of the organization. There is no point in sitting down with a wish list of what the organization’s culture should look like, if that is at odds with the leader’s own style. Far better, John Buchanan says, to get someone to make a few notes about the main positive character traits of the leader and synthesise that into an expression of the organizational culture.

Learning environment is third on John’s list. His thesis is that every leader should be in the business of making themselves redundant. You want people to be able to lead in your absence. You do not want the entire organization grinding to a halt while you have a moment to yourself. You really should be working for the day when your business just keeps making buckets of money without you working your guts out to keep the machine going.

That can only be achieved if you allow people the scope to learn, encourage them to learn and support them in that learning.

Developing talent is the key to growth. Obviously success comes from improvement and that improvement has to come from somewhere. Finding raw talent and developing it is part of that process. The other key that stops many people succeeding is the development of talent that is different to the leader’s. This is especially true where the leader may be weak in an area and needs to complement that weakness. There is a natural tendency in many of us to become defensive and avoid exposing our weaknesses. A good leader though acknowledges them and fills the organisation with a range of talents that complement each other.

Measurement is the final pillar that underlines all the others. Being able to determine if the other pieces of the puzzle are working is essential to managing to a plan and refining the plan as external circumstances force us to rip it up and start again.

Many readers will have come across similar templates for success. The joy in this presentation is that John Buchanan has a down-to-earth style that makes them ring true. This is not a high pressure presentation with a lot of hoopla. It is a real bloke that the audience feels they can identify with, who is quite open about some the challenges he faced along the way, talking about how success comes from the determined application of a few key principles.

For the members of the South West Chamber who were there, the recommendations resonate all the more for that directness and personal touch. I’m sure I was not the only attendee who took the time to check out

One thought on “Cricket coach shares leadership tips

  1. […] open as a fundamental starting point for success in business, public life. (See last week’s John Buchanan story)   There is no point in belittling Ian Walker for growing up like most Queenslanders with the […]

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