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What Wayne Bennett Taught us About Business

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  • Jan 10, 2022
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Whether you are a rugby league tragic or not, you’ve likely heard of Wayne Bennett.  Love or hate him, even his staunchest enemies call him the Super Coach.  His motivation and drive to innovate rugby is the reason he is known as one of the greatest coaches the game has ever seen.    As an acknowledgement of his dedication to the game, in 2012, he was inducted into the Australian Sport Hall of Fame.  He is the longest serving coach of a single club in the history of NRL in Australia and has one of the best winning percentages in the game.

At Kaibizzen, we regularly use sport as an analogy for business. So, we would like to share with you the six top learnings we gleaned from Wayne Bennett about business with some Wayne Bennett quotes.

  1. Dance to the beat of your own drum
    Wayne Bennett has a reputation of being difficult with reporters as they question him before and after games.  Some people call him arrogant and cold.  When sports journalist Peter Kelly interviewed Bennett in 1988, the year the Brisbane Broncos started, Kelly claims that he very quickly understood that Wayne was simply working his agenda, not the reporters.  He was able to spot a leading question, such as “would you say that …”, to only receive Wayne’s short answer “no”.

    Peter also claims in his article “What I learned about Media Training from Wayne Bennett” that Wayne was not interested in being friendly with the media.  He would be accommodating and pleasant.  He understood better than anyone that his primary audience was not all rugby league fans, but his 17 players taking the field.  He knew that to say something complimentary about the opposition team may build their confidence and to say nothing complimentary may motivate them.  Wayne virtually always said nothing.

    When he did have something to say, in many cases he didn’t wait for the questions, he spoke about how the game was administered, effectively ignoring the questions being asked, and again, running his own agenda.

    As business coaches in Brisbane, we believe Wayne Bennett is extremely astute. He is always prepared. He knows his key message and he sticks to it.

    Being a business owner is no different.  In every situation we face, whether it be at a Directors meeting, a performance improvement planning meeting, or a client meeting, we must be prepared.

    One of the greatest skills we need to learn as leaders is to ask the questions that give us the answers we are looking for.
  2. Attract and look after your team members
    One of the greatest skills we need to learn as leaders is to ask the questions that give us the answers we are looking for.

    After Alex McKinnon was seriously injured and unable to walk, Bennett never stopped treating him like he did before he was injured. Bennett mentored Alex to look for actions he could take in his life rather than feeling sorry for himself and asked him to always strive for greatness.  Alex says of Wayne, he is “genuinely a player’s coach…. He’s got a real art of making people feel special…. Sometimes he knew me better than I knew myself.  There’s only one Wayne Bennett, that’s why he is who he is”.

    Bennett is also known for never taking excuses from his players, and taking ownership for everything that happens in his team’s performance. No matter whether they’ve played good, bad or indifferent, he absorbs it all. For example, Chammas recalls the night that the Newcastle Knights (Bennett was their coach) were humiliated at their home stadium.  After the game, the team went back to the shed with Bennett. For 15 minutes they looked at Bennett while he sat there in silence, before he got up and left. One of the players, recalls “I’ll never forget that day.  It’s one of the most effective post-game sprays I’ve seen”.  Wayne’s words are powerful, and just as powerful are his lack of them!

    Chammas recollects an example of Wayne’s ability to get the best out of his men.  Jamie Soward played the same position as one of the all time greats in that position, Jonathan Thurston, who played for a different team at the same time.  Wayne was able to tap into Jamie’s skill in such a way that the team broke a 31-year drought and won the premiership.  Soward recalls how Wayne never compared him to Jonathan.  He always reviewed his performance.  One week Wayne rated Soward a 5-10.  Wayne wrote Soward this message “I don’t know who the imposter in the No 6 jersey is, but when Jamie Soward comes back let me know”.

    These are only a few of the examples of Wayne’s leadership. How would you overlay these ideas on your own leadership style?
  3. Don’t die with music inside you
    This actually is the title of one of the books that Wayne has written.

    With this one, we would like to just to apply this idea to the journey of business ownership.

    After nearly 20 years as business coaches, we’ve come across so many business owners who have died with the music inside them.  These people went into business with a passion to be the best in their field, to be in control of their own destiny, to have more time to spend with their family and to make more money than they have before.  What we’ve found though is the day to day cogitations of business have taken all those dreams away.  So many business owners are drowning and trapped in their business.  Every time they see a light at the end of the tunnel, they find it’s just another train coming the other way.

    At Kaibizzen, our philosophy is that your business is the tool to give you the lifestyle that you want.  It is possible to reignite your passion, your dreams and your goals.
  4. Be in control of your emotions
    If you watch Bennett in interviews and sitting in the coach’s box at games, you will notice his incredible ability to be in control of his emotions.  He rarely gets excited (or even smiles) when his team is playing well and he rarely, if ever, shows his impatience, anger or anything else when things aren’t going so well.

    To quote the words of Warren Buffet, “if you can’t control your emotions you can’t control your money”.  What did Warren Buffett mean?

    As business coaches in Brisbane, we see so many business owners who in times of cash difficulties go to pieces.  They are constantly stressing about their bank balance, they are worried about paying creditors.  Their energy becomes so sapped that they can’t even think straight.

    Conversely, we have also seen business owners spend recklessly because they suddenly acquired a large amount of money in a short time.

    So, no matter what your financial situation is, it is important to keep your emotions in check when it comes to handling money.
  5. Age is just a number
    Bennett began his coaching career in 1976 as a 26-year old.  At 70-years old, he was still doing what he loves the most – coaching the sport he loves. In Chammas’ article, he recalls a time when Bennett was asked when he was going to retire.  Bennett referred to a College football coach in the US who was still going in his 80’s and said, “I’m aiming to beat that”.

    Confucius said, “Choose ajob you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. Dr John De Martini says, “retirement is only for those who don’t have a purpose”.

    Are you doing what you love?  If you’re not, you are probably eager to stop working. As business coaches in Brisbane, we want you to know that it’s possible to turn things around. With support from Kaibizzen, you can regain the passion and joy you once had for your business. Contact us today.
  6. Focus on the right numbers
    Another observation from watching Bennett’s interviews after a game is that he never focusses on the score.  His focus is on what happened during the game.  He talks about the number of penalties given away, the state of defense or offence, the tackles missed and so on.

    As a great coach, Bennett knows that games are won or lost based on how all the components of the game are played.  He knows the final score is just a reflection of what his team has or hasn’t done.

    Business is no different. 

    Every business has its own set of “impactor scores”, which we must know.  We then need to determine the best way to track them, report on them and analyse what those numbers tell us.  I can guarantee that Bennett uses his analysis of each game in training the next week. 

If you’d like to explore how business coaching can get the best from you and your team, contact us at Kaibizzen. We’d love to help you achieve the business and the lifestyle you’ve always wanted.

FOUNDATIONS FOR A HIGH PERFORMANCE TEAM:

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  • To thrive, you must run a high-performance team
  • Assess your current team in the areas critical for high-performance
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