My guest today is John Buchanan. John is a former coach of the Australian national cricket team, where he helped lead them to three world cup victories, a world record 16 consecutive test match victories, and is in my opinion, easily one of cricket’s greatest ever coaches. I was a cricket tragic growing up, so John was the bee’s knees being able to lead one of Australia’s greatest ever cricket teams.
John Howard, former PM of Australia, has some high praise for John:
Finally, can I say to John Buchanan who has been a wonderful coach to the team over the years, it’s not an easy job, very challenging one, as he will understand. John, thank you for your service to Australian cricket, and thank you for your service to Australian sport. I wish you well.
In this conversation, we cover leadership, differences between sporting and corporate teams, and getting people to buy into your message.
I hope you enjoy my conversation with John Buchanan!
[00:00:33] – [First question] – Introduction and Background
[00:18:16] – Assessing leaders without relying on results-based outcomes
[00:19:35] – Leveraging differences of players
[00:21:24] – Shelf lives of coaches
[00:23:32] – Differences in managing bigger squads
[00:26:12] – What to avoid as a leader
[00:29:18] – Corporate world vs Sports world
[00:34:44] – [Final Question] What’s John’s Everest?
Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favourite podcast platform.
Kalani Scarrott: (00:41) My guest today is John Buchanan. John is a former coach of the Australian national cricket team, where he helped lead them to three world cup victories, a world record 16 consecutive test match victories, I could go on and on and on, but for me, I was a cricket tragic growing up, so John was the bee’s knees being able to lead one of Australia’s greatest ever cricket teams.
Personally, I would put John on the same level as a lot of other great coaches of the past and present such as Greg Popovich, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Sir Alex Ferguson, so I really think there is a lot to take away from this episode and I cannot wait, so let’s get stuck in.
John, super excited to have you here. I’ve been a big fan of your work ever since reading your book, If Better is Possible, when I was about 15, so about 10 years ago now, and it’s not just your success as a coach that I admire but the way you approach coaching in that it’s about helping the person develop and grow as an individual first and then as an athlete second, which I think seems to align with a lot of other great coaches that I admire, like Greg Popovich or Phil Jackson.
I know that people will always look at outcomes and wins as the be-all and end-all of success, but today I was hoping to talk a little bit more about the process about building teams, leadership and how we can sort of apply these in all areas, not just in sports but in business or in other leadership positions that you might find yourself in.
So I think just to orientate the audience, I think it’d help just to hear a sort of thumbnail sketch of how you ended up with your first coaching gig at the Queensland Bulls.
John Buchanan: Like most young boys, presumably still now, but when I was growing up it was always the dream was to play cricket for Australia. Wear the baggy green cap, that was what I was going to do. I kept pursuing that dream through school, through university and I was fortunate enough that I was able to get to university, albeit that I stumbled around there for a little while but finally managed to get a degree which was in human movement studies, which was a morphing of the old physical education degree.
But I was pursuing my cricket career, reasonably successful at club level, went to play professionally in England for a couple of seasons and then that put me with the Queensland side, I think, in late ’70s, just around about when Packer was changing cricket, the face of cricket, the whole face of cricket.
So I played a pretty unsuccessful season for Queensland, and then the Packer series finished and it was time for me then to basically shelve that dream and look for other dreams. That was around then becoming a sports administrator, chased that for a while, so a sports analyst in the 12th Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, and national director of Australian Volleyball.
But I actually found that sports administration really wasn’t my cup of tea, and so then looked for the new dream and the new dream was around wanting to educate, teach people about sport, about physical activity, the benefits of it and so on, so moved into TAFE, did a diploma of teaching there and was in TAFE for a bit over two years, but found really that, because I’d been brought up in a private school and virtually had the silver spoon in my mouth all the time, I just didn’t think that I was able to connect with the type of students that were coming through TAFE and what they really needed.
So I enjoyed the teaching, so we then, my wife and two young children, travelled to the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, where I studied a master’s degree in sports coaching, sports administration, anything to do with sport basically.
Cut a long story short, ended up coming back to, it became the University of Canberra but initially was Canberra CAE, and started teaching in the field of sports coach and sports admin, just anything to do with sport. In fact, we had a very good relationship with the Canberra Raiders in those days, so this is now mid-’80s, mid to late ’80s, and Mal Meninga, Gary Belcher basically the Raider’s team, we were in various classes in the sports sports history, or whatever it might be.
So that was all nice and the family was growing, we had three young children at that point in time. The real change, though, they decided to, Canberra Colleges of Advanced Education, which Canberra was one, became universities, and so that virtually meant that a master’s degree was not sufficient really to advance too much further in the tertiary education system, so it was time to go and get a doctorate if I wanted to stay, remain and progress.
So I tried that for about three or four months and realized a doctorate wasn’t really what I was wanting to do. I’d have to study and I didn’t see the value in being an expert on something relatively small and seemingly unimportant, so found the possibility of coming back to Queensland, running a program called AUSSIE Sports, which this is now 1990. AUSSIE Sports was really a reincarnation of the Daily Phys Ed Program. The Daily Phys Ed Program had been a reincarnation of the National Fitness Program, and of course now AUSSIE Sports, which is defunct, but it’s been morphed into a few other names since that time.
But in 1990 it was AUSSIE Sport and it was a program funded by the Australian Sports Commission and in conjunction with each of the state education departments and departments of sport, we rolled out the program in the schools and after school activities, where basically it took a whole range of sports and modified it for young children. modified equipment, modified the fields, modified the rules and instigated codes of behavior, mainly for parents.
And so it was a wonderful program, continued till the Sports Commission said, “Well, it’s back over to the states who run them,” and certainly Queensland, the state decided that it wouldn’t run it. But I remained within the Department of Sport and again, it was an interesting time, involved in managing other parts of the department including programs, advanced programs.
But along came, in 1994, an advertisement for coaching the Queensland Bulls. I had been, if you like, dabbling in coaching prior to that. Prior to going to Canada, I’d coached a team in Brisbane, the Brisbane A-grade competition called Colts, and in that particular team, so this was early ’80s, mid-’80s was a young bloke named Ian Healy who was our captain, and there was an inkling of direct sports coaching, and when I came back to Queensland with the AUSSIE Sport Program, I decided to begin to test this notion of maybe I could coach in some way, shape or form.
So I went back to my old cricket club, which was University Cricket Club, and coached there for two years, and I won a couple of titles there. But then this job came along and it had been 16 years since I had any direct involvement with Queensland Cricket, and as I said, that wasn’t a very successful year as a player, and in the role of coach at the time was Jeff Thomson. He’d been in that role for four years and obviously, most people who follow cricket know who Jeff Thomson was, and certainly, a number of the other candidates were more highly credentialed players.
I asked Ian Healy at the time, who was captain of Queensland by then, whether or not those who were advertising the job, Queensland Cricket were serious in terms of if they want people to apply for the job, or was it one of those jobs where you apply and it was understood who was actually going to get the job? And his view no, it was certainly open that I should apply.
So, what it made me do was then to try work out why I did what I did, in other words, this thing called coaching, was I really a coach, and if I was, what is it that I did?
And so for the next three, four weeks or so, I used to go running where I was sort of away from everything and could just think by myself, not distracted by work or other interruptions, and began to work out that I was searching back into my history, back into my dreams in the backyard, coaches, teachers, fellow players, colleagues, going to university and all the players’ experiences, good and bad. And eventually I kind of worked out what my philosophy was, my values and principles were, and importantly I worked out that I was a coach.
And so that’s what I was able then to take to the interview table, not my pedigree as a former first class cricketer, because it just wasn’t going to stack up, but what I was actually going to bring to Queensland Cricket to convince them, firstly, that I should be given the role, and secondly that I would be successful in the role over a period of time.
So that’s kind of where it all started. I was appointed in June ’94. As history shows now that in that first season we were able to win the Sheffield Shield. First time Queensland had won that in 69 years. It had got close many times but hadn’t been able to make it across the line, so that was the Holy Grail of cricket for Queensland at that point in time.
Kalani: (10:00) When you took over as Queensland Cricket coach, you had a few very experienced and successful cricketers, maybe towards the tail end of their careers in Allan Border, Craig McDermott, Carl Rackemann. How do you go about making sure that they buy in to your message and vision?
John Buchanan: Well I think it’s the same no matter where you go. Firstly, you’re appointed as coach, so there is some formal acknowledgement of you as a leader and there is some deferment, if you like, to authority that you have a position of leadership, and at the same stage that accords some sort of respect.
But in the end, I mean, that only lasts so long and you’ve got to be able to demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about, and you’ve got to demonstrate that by coaching abilities, the way you talk and communicate with everybody.
So there’s no guarantee. Absolutely no guarantee. And initially I decided that because of that, I’d take six months leave of absence in public service and if it didn’t work out, this didn’t go the way that I was hoping, then I’d return to public service. But it took me probably three months to reply to them to say, I’m not coming back. I’ve really found what I think I’m meant to do, which was coach.
Now, therefore there’s, as I said, no guarantee an individual’s going to follow, and in fact early in that particular season with Allan Border playing what turned out to be his second-last season, although at the time was going to be the last season, I was bringing in computer technology which had never been done before in cricket. It was still an experiment for all of us. We were learning as we went. This piece of machinery that could capture data and capture vision could help us with analysis and feedback that really wasn’t pertinent to cricket.
And he in no uncertain terms told me, for him, it wasn’t, and that was one of my early learning lessons as a coach that every person’s a individual, obviously, but every person’s different in terms of their experiences, their knowledge, the way they go about preparing themselves, the information they need and how do they go about learning.
So that was an experience. I quickly learnt from that, but I was changing the way things were done. Not just computer technology, but just the way that we trained and what was put into training. Obviously, with the computer technology we gradually changed the way team meetings might occur, information that we’d have and we could use vision, just the way that we reviewed games, but also we changed the dynamics between the old and young, so collapsed the two squads together.
There was a QIS squad, and the QIS squad was a group of young boys and obviously, the [Queensland] Bulls squad was generally older, or had been around for a while, but it was important to bring those two together because they could both, in their own way, challenge each other. It did stretch resources and the way that we managed that, but we were able to do that and really set about building a very, very strong family. And family was not just the players, but it was their wives and partners, children and everybody else. Looked at having regular sort of barbecues where we could after games or through training sessions.
I suppose the other thing that has been part and parcel of what I did with Queensland, what I did with the Australian team and what I continue to do in my corporate work, and it’s very much embedded in the my own philosophy, and that is about having a picture of the future and what is it that we really want to be? And it needs to be something, in my mind anyway, that’s probably unachievable, yet potentially possible.
So with Queensland, the vision then was we were going to dominate domestic cricket for the next 10 years. So to do that we had to do a lot. We had to change the system, process. That wasn’t going to happen overnight, and so it was step by step. And one of those steps I can recall was an early meeting with, as you mentioned, a few of the senior players, which was Rackemanns and Borders and Healy and McDermotts and the players that had been around for sometime, was to go and say, “Look, I haven’t obviously been around Sheffield Shield Cricket a heck of a long time, you guys know how it rolls, so let’s have a look at just simple things like how do we travel, where do we stay, what do we wear?”
Because I wanted us to present a different image than I thought had been presented previously. I wanted us to demonstrate a new image of professionalism because at the same point, which was really advantageous, was that there was a new marketing officer, a gentleman that had come on a year before, and he begun this whole concept of the bulls, and in my particular year, that first year, we set about creating posters and logos featuring this new look, the new colors, just new messaging.
And so all that sort of played into this growing momentum that. Certainly internally it was something different than it had been before, but externally people saw us with computers and using something that nobody else has done and they’re training sightly differently, and they look different by the time they step off a plane to the time when they leave. There was a growing sense that there was change afoot within that Queensland team.
And so, while change was definitely important, it still has to go along with results, so why I’m very much a process person, and always believe in process, as a coach, as a team, as a business, if results are not coming, then it is time to work out why that’s not occurring and generally it’ll be, well, maybe it’s the coach. It’s time to change it over.
And increasingly so these days, I think, when we look around professional sport and even into corporate life, if profits are not there, or at least meeting the expectations of shareholders, and the sports coach is not meeting their expectations, or are the players and the fans, then there is a very, very quick backlash and media play a significant role these days in terms of you’re fostering that by this constant search for the next headline and the next story. So yes, results become pretty important.
As I said, fortunately, we were stacking some results together early on in the season. Wasn’t necessarily consistent but reasonably early on, so from a player’s perspective when we finally won, yeah, what he’s doing is different, that’s interesting. We’re all learning and experimenting, we’re doing some different things that other people aren’t doing, and at the same stage we’re getting some results, and whether it’s winning or losing, we’re actually sort of analyzing that far better than what we had done previously, or at least far differently than what had been done previously.
So, a lot of pieces go into having people want to follow you, want to believe in you, and gradually as that occurs then the respect I mentioned earlier comes with a formal position that remains, but now you’re actually earning the respect of players and support staff because they begin to believe in the process that you’re doing. As they begin to believe more and more in what you’re doing, it kind of fuels itself, and so it becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Kalani: (18:16) It’s interesting that you brought up that when judging a coach or a leader, that the media often drives this obsession with focusing on the results and how that defines how good they are, but how would you go about assessing a coach or a leader without relying purely on results-based outcomes?
John Buchanan: Outside of results, then firstly a coach, as I did say earlier, that I was able to work out… Excuse me. I was able to work out my philosophies, principles, values. So therefore as a coach, what are they and then how do you play them out? So they need to be on show, they need to be demonstrated, there needs to be tangible evidence that they’re being delivered on a daily basis.
So if I was to evaluate a coach, then the starting point for me is always about, well you tell me what sport, tell me what you believe in, and then you tell me how you deliver that, or what will I see? And so then if I was to be an evaluator, an observer of that coach, I should be able to see, measure, what that person’s doing on a daily basis that aligns with their philosophy, values and principles, as I say. Then on top of that there’s just results sits outside that.
Kalani: (19:35) Now, I’ve seen you mention before that one of the healthy things in the Australian cricket team was the difference that existed between everybody. How do you go about leveraging the differences of players in a team setting to be an overall benefit?
John Buchanan: That conflict can be both helpful, can be constructive, it can help change, and conversely it can do the reverse. It can pull teams apart, really fragment, create little cliques, very much work against a high-performance culture, and people play for themselves as opposed to playing for the team, or point fingers everywhere else apart from themselves.
So in a sense, the coach’s role is, one, to enhance the first part, and two, to try to manage that second part, so that the pluses always are overriding a lot of the negative things that are always occurring within a group, because the group’s large, it’s like a big family, and there’s always going to be differences of opinion. Provided we can surface a lot of those differences, a lot of the sources of conflict, then we can deal with that.
And in most cases, I was reasonably successful with that. Certain times, the 2005 Ashes still is a classic where I just didn’t deal with that very well at all, and I say that as one of my low points in my coaching career, not necessarily the result, although we got beaten by the Poms so that threatened my career. So that wasn’t nice, but it was more that I didn’t deliver on, as I said, those philosophies, values, principles.
I don’t know whether that would’ve changed the course of history, but I certainly would’ve felt that I’d given it a far better shot than what I had done through that tour.
Kalani: (21:24) Yeah, it’s pretty interesting. Australians can tolerate a lot of things, but they can’t really tolerate losing to England, which it is what it is. But, I’ve heard you mention before, previously, again, that coaches can have a bit of a shelf life. Why do you think that is, and is there any way to combat that?
John Buchanan: Well, if you ask that question to Wayne Bennett, Mick Malthouse, some of the other coaches in all a range of sports that seem to just go on and on, and good luck with doing that, they would say, “That bloke’s talking rubbish.”
Matter of fact, Wayne Bennett said that to me when I was coaching Queensland, because I did pose that question to him when I was coaching Queensland, because I’d been there sort of four years by that stage, and I just said to him, “I think it’s time that I move on, because I do believe that there is a shelf life, meaning that in my own mind, going back into my own philosophy, values and principles again, in my own mind I don’t believe that I can assist the players anymore, I don’t believe I can challenge them anymore, I don’t believe that I can help them grow sufficiently. I think there will be others that can do much more than I can, so that’s why I believe that there is a shelf life.“
And he said, “Look, you’re kidding.” He said that the Broncos here, and so this is late ’90s now at the Broncos, and he would’ve been there about 10 years by that stage, nine or 10 years. He said, “There’s two things that can happen here. Either I leave, or the players leave. And I’m not going.“
His method there was obviously you keep certain key people around that are really aligned with your thinking, your philosophy, values, principles and those sorts of things, but are in the playing group, and so they’re delivering on that in their own way, but then there are a lot of other people around that in the sense either don’t fit that, or just don’t have really the skillsets you’re looking for to deliver on type of game that you want to play.
So he was able then to, as I said, keep the nucleus and move other players on, so he was really the centrepiece of that Broncos culture.
Kalani: (23:32) It’s probably pretty good that you bring up coaching different sports, because do you think that the principles of coaching and how you apply them differ when working with bigger squads and teams?
John Buchanan: Potentially, but really I don’t think so. To some degree yes, a cricket squad, at least a touring cricket squad, so 15 or so, and these days, in the way of COVID, you got 20 plus players and then you got another 20 plus support staff, so you’ve got a couple of massive teams that you got to deal with and then within those teams there are teams within those teams. So these days it’s a pretty similar sort of job, I think, in terms of numbers.
But ultimately, I don’t think really the numbers matter so much, provided that you’re in a position to make sure that messaging, communication’s clear to everybody. So whether it’s a small group or not, if I’m not clear on my communications through a small group, and some people are hearing one thing and another one or two in that small group are hearing something else, and unless you can ensure that your communications are clear so that everybody’s on the same page, then there’ll be a problem at some point.
And it won’t necessarily always move immediately. If you’re in a so-called winning dressing room, things are going along pretty well on the field, that poor communication or that miscommunication or that misinterpreted communication won’t necessarily be as big an issue as if it was a losing dressing room, where everything’s a problem, everything’s wrong. So much to fix, where do we start? All those sort of things.
If you’re in a so-called winning dressing room, things are going along pretty well on the field, that poor communication or that miscommunication or that misinterpreted communication won’t necessarily be as big an issue as if it was a losing dressing room, where everything’s a problem, everything’s wrong.
So as you increase the numbers, then it’s still the same principle, you’ve just got to find a way then to make sure that that’s communicated and consistently communicated and well communicated, and that may mean that you’re breaking it down into smaller groups, and it may mean that you’re giving responsibility to extra people to ensure that that’s occurring.
That’s why we do have some support staff, that’s why some, or certainly a lot of football teams use a senior leadership group to help deliver on that process.
There are various ways and means of doing that effectively, so I don’t think it’s about numbers, I just think it’s about, again, that process that you put in place to make sure that those communications are happening and that you’ve got good feedback loops to find out whether or not they’re not, so that you can move quickly to prevent that becoming more of an issue than really what it could be, or should be.
Kalani: (26:12) No, that makes perfect sense around having clear and concise communication to get everyone on board and on the same level.
To divert a little bit, though, if someone was elected Australian Cricket coach today, what advice would you give them as to what not to do? What should they avoid as a coach or a leader?
John Buchanan: I’ve just caught up with Justin. Justin and I, Justin Langer, who’s the current Australian Cricket coach, we generally have a bit of a chat every couple of months or so, and not necessarily instigated by Justin, I’m just looking from a distance and any experience what he goes through, albeit that his coaching existence these days is far more complicated, I think, than what mine was. And I think generally due to, as we just said, size of groups, probably more so social media is a major issue.
The conversation we had was still about, you’ve got to understand yourself, which is, what I said at the outset, your philosophy, values and principles, and then you’ve got to deliver on those. You’ve just constantly got to deliver on those.
So from a player’s point of view or a support staff person in that mix, they may not agree with you all the time, and one or two may not agree with you any of the time, but what becomes pretty certain is they know what you stand for, they understand who you are.
they may not agree with you all the time, and one or two may not agree with you any of the time, but what becomes pretty certain is they know what you stand for, they understand who you are.
So I think in terms of any coach, the biggest thing, or the biggest mistake you can make is not to be yourself and to deliver yourself consistently and constantly. The coach begins to compromise on that in any way, shape or form to suit certain situations, to suit certain individuals, or to appease certain shareholders or stakeholders that have an interest in the team, then I think it’s fraught with danger, because going back to this notion of respect, which embodies trust, and honesty, and sincerity, all those things. If the coach is changing, in other words, the person I get today is going to be different to the person I get tomorrow, then that makes individuals in that mix very wary of who this person is, what their agenda is and what can I do and say today that I might not have been able to say yesterday?
So that would be always, I think, the strongest piece of advice for a coach. And that may mean, of course, and it’s happened to me a couple of times, that may mean that it does bring you into direct conflict with key players and key people within that group, and obviously, in a cricket team your most key person is the captain, and if the coach and captain are not aligned, then generally it’s a pretty short walking distance to the exit door for the coach.
Kalani: (29:18) Yeah, that’s true. I can imagine when, yeah, dealing with small teams such as a cricket team, if people start coming in direct conflict, it can get pretty testy.
Moving on to what you’re doing now, which is Buchanan Success Coaching, what do you think are some of the biggest differences between sort of the more sports side and corporate? What could the corporate world learn from what they do in sport?
John Buchanan: The biggest difference I think I’ve seen is, one, that there’s a lot of corporate speak around yes, we’re high performance, or I’m a coach or a leader who listens and enjoys feedback and I am preparing my staff and giving them great opportunity to develop and grow. All the words are there, and the actions are there at certain times, but they’re not there consistently.
So to go back to what I was just saying before, I think that’s one of the general or most failings of leadership in the corporate world is that they will do things conditionally, so they become almost a conditional team player, certainly a conditional team leader. So if things are going well, yes, there’s all those things that might happen, and if things are not going well and the numbers are not stacking up, they’re not getting results and they’re under pressure from their board, they’re under pressure from a whole range of shareholders and stakeholders, then they’re going to drive numbers, and they’re going to drive transactions and all the high-performance cultural stuff goes out the window.
I think that’s one of the general or most failings of leadership in the corporate world is that they will do things conditionally, so they become almost a conditional team player, certainly a conditional team leader. So if things are going well, yes, there’s all those things that might happen, and if things are not going well and the numbers are not stacking up, they’re not getting results and they’re under pressure from their board, they’re under pressure from a whole range of shareholders and stakeholders, then they’re going to drive numbers, and they’re going to drive transactions and all the high-performance cultural stuff goes out the window.
I think one of the really interesting difference between sport and business is that, that sport in fact has a luxury that business doesn’t afford itself. It can, but it doesn’t afford itself that luxury, and that is, the weekend’s not far away.
So the sporting individual or the sporting team is in the preparation phase, getting ready for that competition, or that event. And so from a coach’s perspective, we’ve got a game plan, and within the game plan there’s this kind of role and these are the skills you need and this is what we need you to do, and we piece all that together so that by game day the individual and/or the team are in best position to play their best game. Right? Before the whistle blows. Nobody knows who’s going to win. Generally.
And then, of course, they go through the game, and so lots of things happen in the course of a game, but at the end of the game there’s a result, and that result then leads to the process starting again. So that process is about we’re reviewing what’s happened, again individually and collectively, what we set out to achieve, what did we achieve, what didn’t we achieve, and we’ve got a new event coming up, so what do we take from that to help us prepare for the next event?
So that’s a real luxury that business, in a sense, could do, but generally doesn’t do. In other words, the leader, the staff person, comes to work. They get into their working day and finish the day and then in the main, go home. Thank God for the times, but could’ve been a great day.
But very few then go through that process of saying, “Well, that was potentially an event. It was a good day, it started, it finished, I set out to do certain things, or as a group we set out to do certain things, how well did we go, what did we learn, what do we need to change so that we put ourselves in the best position for the next event, which is tomorrow?“
Very few corporates will do that because an event in their minds is it’s weeks, it’s months, it’s years sometimes. It’s just the end of year financials, getting those numbers, that if they watch the share market, if they’re a listed company, then in a sense they could look at their share price as a means of one indicator of a result for that particular day or that particular week.
So, what businesses fail to do most of the times is set themselves up for success. In other words, right start of the day, here’s my team, this is the day coming up, these are the sorts of things that are going to occur through the day, these are my expectations of outcomes, what does the team think? Spend 10 minutes on that, and then at the end of the day either we reflect on that again, but probably not, but what we do do the next morning is reflect on that, so spend five minutes on the reflection part, quick analysis of what we achieved, what we didn’t achieve, and then five minutes on setting up the day for success again.
So the process is the same, it’s just that it has to be short, because business is in competition every day, sport happens to be in competition generally every week, or every few days. They don’t have to back up day after day after day after day, week after week. And so again, this is reflected in the way that corporates go about assessing themselves.
So we were just asking before about how you assess the coach. Well, for me if I was assessing the CEO it would be the same thing. What are the key drivers for you? What are your key principles and values? Righto. So let’s start the day and watch how you do that.
And more often than not, generally the higher up the chain you go, all they do is run back-to-back meetings, so they spend little time actually preparing for a meeting, albeit that they’re pretty intelligent people so they retain a heck of a lot in their head. Then they have the meeting, they then don’t spend any time reviewing that meeting because they’re just backed up. Generally, they’re running late for the next meeting, so they spend very little time reviewing what had just occurred, both from an outcomes perspective but also their impact, and then very little or no time setting up for the next one, and that sort of goes from the whole day, day-to-day, week-to-week.
So I think business leaders could definitely factor in a heck of a lot more time on reflected process, which indeed sport does very, very effectively, effectively in terms of the process. Whether it’s effective in terms of results, that’s another matter.
Kalani: (34:44) That’s a good and interesting point you brought up about how preparation in the sporting world is fairly prominent, yet in the corporate side of things it can be pretty infrequent, if not non-existent.
But to go about what you spoke about earlier in the conversation about how goals should be almost impossible yet potentially achievable, you’ve mentioned something similar in your book about the concept of Everest, in that everyone should have their own Everest goal, that same sort of thing. It’s almost impossible yet potentially achievable. What is your Everest now?
John Buchanan: Well, my Everest was, I suppose, going into this business, wanting to be somewhere globally, maybe in the top 50, so if any business or individual CEO leader, no matter what, wanted to know something about coaching or leadership, then they’d press a button and here comes the top 50 and I sit in the top 50. So that would be my Everest.
Now, I’m well short of that. These days, I think it’s just takes a huge amount of energy and time to do that, and I don’t realistically I haven’t got the time or that energy.
The other thing I reckon has been pretty interesting with COVID that I found in my business, initially it was good because it just meant, going back to this notion of people running late, having to wait. You’re on a Zoom meeting, there’s a time fix and everybody’s there, so that was good. But the Zoom meetings or the Team meetings, or however you interact virtually, is just that, it’s virtual, so there are so many nuances, relationship, or parts of relationships, or the fabric of relationships that are either no longer there or you can’t see, and in essence, that’s a really good coach fits in.
But what I have found now is that I think people are so used to using screens, that in my area of coaching and leadership, if somebody’s looking, they can look at a thousand in 10 minutes. So it’s become a very, very, very cluttered world out there in my space, and I’m sure it’s the same in so many others as well.
But obviously some have really benefited from that. The world is about timing and opportunity, I think, so sometimes the timing’s there but your opportunity’s, or vice versa, the opportunity’s there but, gee, it’s not the right time, but if the two come together then you’re doing very well in who you are and what you do.
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