The rough and tumble world of rugby is probably more associated with the gritty, aggressive qualities of the ‘Leader’ persona than the ‘Manager’ type, but listening to Wayne Bennett’s account of his world leading coaching success, his foundations are much more in the Manager camp.

Bennett, coach of the Bisbane Broncos of the Australian rugby league, has won more than 300 career win, more than any other Australian league rugby coach and has served twice as the Australian national team coach.  A superb account of his career and the hallmarks of his success were quite appropriately recently reviewed not in the ‘Sports’ section, but the ‘Business’ section of the Sunday Times (26 March 2006, page 13, David Bolchover).

In fact, he himself alludes to the Leader-Manager dichotomy:

“There are two types of coaches.  First, those that are looking for a quick fix.  These guys turn the place upside down, tend to be very autocratic, it’s my way or the highway.  They usually leave a great mess behind.  Then there’s another type and I’m in that category, where you build and organisation, get all the right people in place, introduce a work ethic and look for long-term success.”

Other notes which highlight Bennett’s Manager acumen included,

·         “But despite all this success, Bennett maintains that he has never been motivated by status, glory or championships.”  Conversely a ‘Leader’, would be more intently focused on the upside opportunity and achievements.  This quality of humility is characteristic of managers who appreciate the many downsides that surround them and could befall them at any moment.

·         “Bennett has not had to suffer the roller-coaster ride endured by many in his profession.  As befits a man who has led the same club for 18 years, Bennett is a great advocate of managerial stability.  Superficial solutions to problems may seem enticing, but are often counterproductive.  There is not substitute for patience and painstaking commitment.”

Finally, Bennett’s wisdom even touched on the subject area of my other blog category, ‘Turning Adversity to Advantage.’  He observes:  “We should learn from other’s mistakes because we don’t live long enough to make them all ourselves.”