Business of winning

08-03-19 Pic of Werribee Football Club coach Mark Williams at Werribee Mansion. Photo by Damjan Janevski.

By Star Weekly

New Werribee Football Club coach Mark Williams shares his thoughts on leadership and your business.

Senior coaching is a great honour which comes with huge responsibilities. Trying to achieve the ultimate goal of winning a premiership while living in a high-pressured, media-focused and publicly scrutinised bubble is a difficult environment for anyone. Imagine every day at work, being critically analysed and evaluated. Well that’s the life of an AFL coach.

We can all learn many great life lessons from the sporting fields which are completely transferable to the business world. Every sporting team and each team you work with in your day-to-day jobs have similar characteristics and needs. This is “The Business of Winning”. Over the years I have noticed there are five key issues which, when acknowledged and addressed, will help your business to become a Champion Team which continually pushes to lift the bar.

1. Recruit a diverse workforce

The best teams are made up of a workforce which embraces diversity and brings a point of difference. With each team member complimenting each other and not just being clones. In the football world this is easily seen by young and old, short and tall, fast and endurance-types, inside tuff nuts and outside runners as well as those that can jump on people’s heads to take a screamer and those just happy to do their job to shut down the opposition’s best players: role-players. Some are leaders and some are followers – we need them all. Understanding some takes time – develop them, support them.

2. Build the culture – the feel of the place

It is important for everyone in the organisation to be on the same page. Each employee in your organisation must have relationships which travel above, alongside and below their position in the organisation. Building trust with each other is the key. By showing care and understanding each level of management builds belief in each other. People thinking about others, how they feel, what they are going through and acknowledging their journey, background, their struggles and achievements, builds long-lasting bonds.

3. Create an innovative, fun learning environment

Work cannot always be the same. People need to look forward to coming to work. They need to have fun and enjoy the environment to produce their best efforts. Far too often great staff leave due to the fact that they have stagnated or are bored. The cost of replacing staff is enormous so spending some money, time and thought on innovative ways to motivate your people will be money well spent.

4. Develop your leaders

It is vital not just to give management and leaders a title, you must also give them the opportunity to lead and the vision to chase their improvement. Let them have a go, watch them, hold their hand, then give constructive feedback and let them grow. Too many managers hold the reigns too tight, restricting the development of their underlings. One of the greatest achievements of my coaching career has been six coaches/players who have gone on to become AFL senior coaches, including Alistair Clarkson and Damien Hardwick.

5. Set goals, hunt your opposition, track and reward progress

Knowing where you’re going sets the direction for your team. Each player and every staff member wants to know “where they are at?” Where they stand? What are they going to be judged on? What are their KPI’s? What success looks like to them. Great managers recognise the need to value each of their staff and have empathy towards their career path with consistent face-to-face, real, genuine caring discussions. The need for public recognition is huge within us all, so don’t miss the opportunity to highlight even small achievements in front of your team. Share the joy and continue to reward your staff – they crave it even if they say they don’t.


We would all like to think that life and sport has a linear progression with a fairytale ending, but this is not true. You’ll have many ups and downs along the way but the one thing that I know is that “Perseverance Knows no Failure” – so keep at it and you too can have a Champion Team.

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