What can the Queensland State of Origin team teach us about leadership?

What can the Queensland State of Origin team teach us about leadership?

Leaders are put under pressure everyday, and while there are plenty of formal ways for them to learn new techniques and advice, sometimes inspiration strikes from unlikely places. In the past couple of weeks, many people would have been coming home from management courses to watch the State of Origin, arguably Rugby League's toughest competition. 

There are many parallels between sporting success and organisational performance.

While most people will see it as a chance to unwind – or get wound up – it can be seen as much more than just entertainment. After all, Queensland just clinched its 10th win from 11 series – a set of victories that included an unprecedented eight wins in a row. There are many parallels between sporting success and organisational performance, too. Both rely on an in-depth knowledge of the competition, the ability to get the best out of people and a delicate balance between stability and a willingness to change.

Here's how the Queensland team has relied on these traits and more to dominate one of sport's toughest contests. 

Senior employees set the standard

There has always been a strong link between leaders and company culture. Organisations rely on core senior leadership teams to act as models for the rest of a workforce. It's an influence that trickles down and should be immediately clear to any new employee who joins the ranks, which is why the concepts of visibility and accountability are so important for today's managers. 

Each year, Queensland's ageing core is raised as a weakness by sporting media outlets around Australia. Time and time again these players, such as Cameron Smith and Jonathan Thurston, continue to prove the value of years of experience. 

In game two of this year, this ability to lead from the front was on display again. Jonathan Thurston's sideline conversions are evidence of a lifetime of dedication. Where some players might see these difficult situations as a 50-50 or simply hope for the best, Thurston's shots, which perfectly curl towards the back dot, show a level of accuracy that the next generation will have to work hard to emulate. 

It's an example that should speak to anyone already in a management role or soon to take one over. Whether it's quality audit training or a focus on health and safety, leaders who visibly perform at their peak regularly can inspire the same confidence and ability in others. 

Managers can learn a lot from sporting success. x 0 0 0 14104121 800Managers can learn a lot from sporting success.

New talent means new energy

Organisational success is about balance, both between stability and change and the contributions of young and old talent. It's this merging of experienced employees with new hires that works to encourage high performance. For managers, however, it can be a difficult balance to strike. 

It's an issue that's plagued both teams in State of Origin over the past 10 years. For Queensland, the challenge lay in aligning a core group of senior players with a wider net of young hopefuls. On the other hand, NSW has struggled to onboard new players that can leverage the experience of senior members such as Paul Gallen and Greg Bird. With constant changes to the vital halves paring over the past few years, NSW is still trying to make new players fit. 

The sooner new employees get up to speed, the better the organisation performs.

Queensland, however, is making it all look too easy. In only his second series, Dane Gagai scored a hattrick of tries in the most recent game. Picking up on the support from seasoned campaigners, he's been able to immediately reach peak performance and make a series-winning contribution when it mattered most. 

Again, there are strong links between these performances and management training opportunities. When onboarding new talent, many organisations consider "time to proficiency" a key metric for success, according to Oracle. Essentially, the sooner new employees get up to speed, the better the organisation performs. Success here relies on both solid organisational structures and ongoing collaboration between managers and other employees. By enhancing these connections, people can have new hires scoring hattricks of their own in know time. 

Know the competition

When a manger is reviewing their team's capabilities, they can't survive solely by looking inwards. They also need understand the wider market, such as who their main competitors are and what makes them tick. Imagine if Queensland never looked at the lineup for the NSW team, and showed up not knowing how its players matched up with their rivals. 

If managers are aware of who their main opposition is, and the various strengths and weaknesses they bring to the table, they can plan around it and bring in people who are going to make a noticeable difference. By understanding competitive positioning, managers can look at how their enterprise relates to rivals. As Chartered Global Management Accountant explains, rivalry is the key to this, and budding managers only need to watch 10 minutes of a State of Origin game to find out why. 

No one in the contest would identify themselves as just a league player. They're either a Queenslander or New South Welshman, and it's this identification and enthusiasm that managers need to replicate within their staff. 

Published by: LMIT