“If you change your belief first, changing the action is easier” ~ Peter McWilliams
There’s occasionally defining moments in leadership and on Saturday Melbournians witnessed one of the most poignant moments. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, particularly in Melbourne, it was a fairy tale ending for the Western Bulldogs football club that won the AFL grand final from 7th position on the ladder (never done before) and breaking a 62-year drought. A club that only 23 months ago was down and out, without a captain or a coach. I don’t think I’ve seen more grown men cry and an outpouring of support or joy for a club by a whole city before in my life!
The story is one of courage, belief and a lesson in heart-based leadership. Luke Beveridge, the coach, has instilled a culture of belief and courage into the club and the players. With the odds against them and crippling injuries throughout the year this team just kept going and believed they could be successful no matter what. The players often spoke the words ‘why can’t it be us?’. And they were right, why couldn’t it be? And it was.
One thing that was obvious from Beveridge was the confidence and belief he had in his players and the team and how much it meant to him emotionally. This I believe was the turning point for the club. When he first started with the Western Bulldogs he communicated what he stood for to his team and asked for the same back, they needed to connect emotionally. He galvanized what was a fractured club through leading with his heart. Of course there was strategy there, but what has secured the highest pinnacle of success for a football club is his emotional connection to the team. And he did this is a very short period of time.
There was a very poignant moment when he handed injured captain Bob Murphy his grand final medal and clearly took the back seat allowing his players to enjoy the win. That is the sign of a true leader. It’s not about the coach, the leader; it’s about his team.
What Beveridge has achieved and what he did publically will go down in history as something highly admired and revered. It’s clear the man walks his talk. But it’s what has gone on behind closed doors that we can truly learn from. Numbers, strategy, game plans and challenges mean nothing unless you have the team on board. And to connect and get the best out of them you need to lead with your heart as well as your head. He’s proven this in one of the most public forums available. The man has not only galvanized a team, but practically an entire state and created a movement while he was at it.
That is someone to be admired. Why can’t it be you?