Last weekend sports-mad Australian’s certainly got their fill, with thrilling AFL and NRL grand finals keeping us on the edge of our seats. Even if you are not a football fan, it was hard not to hear about the historic wins by both the Western Bulldogs and the Cronulla Sharks.
Despite the leadership displayed on the field by numerous players from both games, there were two particular examples of leadership that stood out for me – Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge’s humbling gesture to their injured captain, Bob Murphy, and Melbourne Storm’s captain, Cameron Smith’s tribute to the Cronulla Sharks and the fans.
In the first example, Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge openly demonstrated his belief that the team is always more important than the individual. Murphy, having a season-ending injury earlier this year, was unable to play with his side when they took home their first premiership since 1954. But his contribution as a mentor to the rest of this young side did not go unrewarded. Coach Beveridge, after receiving his premiership medal, called Murphy to the stage to share the moment and gave up his medal to the injured captain. Beveridge’s gesture showed something about leadership that we should all try and remember: that the team is always more important that the individual. Beveridge could have taken that moment of glory for himself, but he knew that this history making achievement was not his alone. It was in fact the result of the efforts of many people, including the injured captain.
In the second example, Melbourne Storm skipper, Cameron Smith, paid tribute to the efforts of the Cronulla Sharks in creating history by winning their first premiership after 50 years in the competition. The win was achieved following a gruelling 80 minutes where both teams hammered each other relentlessly to gain the upper hand. And despite the disappointment of failing short of a win, Smith was able to recognise the occasion for the game itself and praise the efforts of his opponents. While it is easy for winners to be gracious, it takes courage for the losing captain to be humble in defeat and praise the determination and skill of the opposition.
While these were two moments of outstanding sportsmanship, they are also great examples of leaders respecting and valuing the efforts of their respective teams and communities. When a team succeeds it is often the leader that receives the accolades, and it’s true that the leader is crucial to achieving that success. But the leader is only one part of the picture; the individual and combined efforts of the remainder of the team are just as important.
So next time you receive recognition for your leadership, remember Beveridge and Smith and respect and value the efforts of your team. Take the time to recognise the contributions others have made, and ensure that they know you appreciate them. Be humble, and remember that a leader without a team achieves nothing.