Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

You are here

THE TOPICS

Ahead Of The Game
James Bracey
In pharmacy, for change to be embedded and gain traction, you need to have the whole team on board. And where better to look for a successful team than the sporting arena? JAMES BRACEY turns to… 

In pharmacy, for change to be embedded and gain traction, you need to have the whole team on board. And where better to look for a successful team than the sporting arena? JAMES BRACEY turns to leaders of their codes and asks them to share a few pages from their playbook.

It was June 2011 – a World Cup year – and a rugby union bombshell was about to be delivered in Perth. Rising Wallabies star and Western force playmaker James O’Connor had decided to make a controversial switch to new Super Rugby franchise, the Melbourne Rebels. But this day would not be remembered for James’s announcement, but the manner in which he delivered it. It was a game-changer:

"I want what’s best for myself and building my rugby brand," said James.

And with that, you could hear the collective gasp around the nation. An athlete just made a team sport about an individual and his business aspirations.

While James was ridiculed, he even had a parody Twitter account started in his honour, he actually paved the way for many more in Australian sport to follow suit.

The only difference is that, the likes of code-hoppers Sonny Bill Williams, Israel Folau and Karmichael Hunt avoid, at all costs, that word: “brand”. It’s what they’re protecting, it’s what they’re promoting, but they do it with actions, not words.

Jarryd Hayne, the sports star, might be heading off to the U.S. to try his hand at American Football, but Brand Hayne is also on that journey. In an emotional press conference to reveal the move, there was not one mention of “brand” … He didn’t have to. His image on billboards, his impersonation of an aeroplane after scoring a try, and maybe one day a touchdown, is all part of the package.

Sports teams, organisations, codes and as you can see even athletes have evolved into ‘franchises’ themselves – and it’s big business.

Ahead Of The Game

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS, LEADING THE WAY

Just ask Russell Crowe and James Packer, who now co-own NRL premiers, the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan who owns A-League franchise Melbourne City, MLS team New York City and English Premier League champions, Manchester City.

Sport is business.

But for any sporting entity to poke its head in front of the opposition, good leadership is required. “The club has got its house in order” is a line commonly used in the sports world. When the administration is sound, more often than not that filters down and the results generally speak for themselves. One standout example is on show to us each and every summer. And quite often, late at night in a foreign country during winter too (there’s money to be made!). It’s Australian cricket.

In 2011, the controversial Argus Report, led by Australian businessman Don Argus, looked into the state of Australian cricket. A host of the recommendations were subsequently implemented. But whilst many of those changes have been questioned over time, it was clear greater leadership was needed, across different facets of the sport.

Enter Pat Howard, a former Wallaby and rugby administrator, plus a student of pharmacy and joint-owner of his own pharmacy business. His new role: Executive General Manager Team Performance for Cricket Australia.

It’s not hard for Pat, three years on and still in charge of nurturing Australia’s top cricket talent, to draw parallels with pharmacy.

ASK THE COACH

“‘The club has got its house in order’ is a line commonly used in the sports world. When the administration is sound, more often than not that filters down and the results generally speak for themselves. One standout example is on show to us each and every summer. And quite often, late at night in a foreign country during winter too... It’s Australian cricket.”

“In cricket and in all sport, you are in each other’s pockets every day. Small issues become big issues. You need to show the room that accountability exists, but also not have a feeling of fear in the dressing room,” Pat says.

“You need reward and recognition for those that perform and accountability for those that don’t.”

Wise words. But this 20 Test rugby veteran, currently on tour with the Australian team in the UAE, believes someone else’s also hold great value to the issue: “Money is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master,” said Wayne Bennett. Even wiser words from the NRL’s so-called ‘Super Coach’.

Wayne is often credited for his man-management skills. Taking players under his wing and helping them through the challenges of life, not just footy. Wayne and Queensland Origin star Darius Boyd have become a coach/player package deal at any NRL club Wayne moves to. It started in Brisbane, before Darius followed Wayne to the Dragons, then Newcastle and now more than likely back to the Broncos. Why? Darius has had a much-publicised battle with personal issues and it’s the father figure of Wayne that has been able to bring out the best in him as a player and many would say, as a person.

“In 2011, the controversial Argus Report, led by Australian businessman Don Argus, looked into the state of Australian cricket. A host of the recommendations were subsequently implemented. But whilst many of those changes have been questioned over time, it was clear greater leadership was needed, across different facets of the sport … Enter Pat Howard, a former Wallaby and rugby administrator, plus a student of pharmacy and joint-owner of his own pharmacy business. His new role: Executive General Manager Team Performance for Cricket Australia.”

FOSTER LOYALTY, HOLD THE DRESSING ROOM

There’s another phrase that you hear more and more in sport these days, “The coach has lost the dressing room”. That’s code that players no longer respect their leader. Cue the axe.

Wayne never lost a dressing room. And at his coaching peak, he rarely lost a game.

Phil Jauncey worked alongside Wayne at the Broncos for 15 years. Wayne won six first grade rugby league titles with Brisbane. Phil’s passion is Performance Psychology, with sport just one of his specialties. He witnessed first hand the true power of Super Coach Bennett.

“Wayne’s real strength was a belief in natural consequences. If you’re performing and giving evidence that you want to be in the high performance team, we want you in the team. Conversely, if you’re not doing that, then why are you here? Because you’re actually being counter-productive to yourself and the team,” Phil states.

“He worked out that he’s not coaching football players, he’s coaching young men. There’s a baseball coach that once said, ‘I don’t coach baseball players, I coach young men in uniforms’. Wayne Bennett is very much like that.

“He treats people with dignity, cares about them, those people are going to treat him with dignity and care about him and they’re going to perform. And when there’s that hassle, they’re going to be open with that. They’re not going to hide it. One of things I’ve noticed with Wayne over the years, he doesn’t judge that player,” Phil says.

Man-management! And this is something that those in pharmacy – especially as they manage every growing teams that have daily contact with the community – need to master. And that’s why, after some trial and error, Pat Howard and Cricket Australia turned to Darren Lehmann to help resurrect Aussie cricket. A renowned “people-person”.

Ahead Of The Game

GETTING THE BEST FROM YOUR TEAM

“Performance and engagement are huge factors in successful outcomes,” Pat says. “I often believe that commanding in the army, where performance really is about life and death, is the ultimate in ‘engagement’. You literally are all on the same battlefield together.

“Sport is a distant second, but ultimately those people need to engage and want to win and compete for the team. Therefore, the challenge is making sure those in your pharmacy business really care about winning and really care about making a difference. Unlike some other professions, pharmacy can make a difference to a person’s health and wellbeing. You can build trust such that a customer is a trusted patient, not a number,” Pat states.

“As a leader, you need to find a reason for being that you, the pharmacist, the pharmacy assistant, the technician, all understand. It must make a difference to the lives of the patient.”

IT’S AN INVESTMENT, NOT A SACRIFICE

Phil, in his Performance Psychology role with Queensland Cricket, has also seen the power of Darren at play with his troops.

“I’ve also worked with Leigh Matthews (AFL great and premiership winning coach) and John Buchanan (Australian cricket coach; 1999-2007) – those sort of guys get success, because the players really believe that the coaches are not just doing it for their own self satisfaction. They actually believe that they can help the players perform better. The players buy into that. ‘This coach is doing that to help me perform better. Yes, it’s going to help the team. Yes, it’s going to help the wins-losses column. But more importantly it’s going to help me as an individual’,” Phil says.

“So Boof (as Darren is affectionately known) sits down and gives a player some hard advice, that the player really doesn’t want to hear. But the player really believes this isn’t going to be negative to me, because it’s going to help me become a better player.

“Everyone wants to succeed, but why aren’t they? Just like a player giving up alcohol. That player needs to believe that they’re making an investment, not a sacrifice. That it’s not going to hurt them, but help someone else,” Phil explains.

“The challenge is making sure those in your pharmacy business really care about winning and really care about making a difference. Unlike some other professions, pharmacy can make a difference to a person’s health and wellbeing. You can build trust such that a customer is a trusted patient, not a number.”

LOOK FOR SHORT-TERM WINS

When Pat first took on the newly formed Executive General Manager Australian Team Performance role, the sport was in disarray.

Despite a recent series win over Sri Lanka, the year started with an Ashes loss to England, on Australian soil. The wounds were still fresh. Pat was a rugby bloke, a pharmacist, “What would he know about cricket?” many shouted then, and still do now, when things aren’t going well for Michael Clarke and his men. The Australian captain, head coach and selectors would all have to report to Pat. The pressure was immense.

“Perseverance is a huge one,” claims Pat.

“In pharmacy, this is easier and in sport it is harder. In sport, long-term changes are questioned on a weekly basis by the media. Long-term change is compromised by short-term results – to persevere with a cause is paramount, but the need to manage short-term outcomes so you are still around to bear the fruit of long-term change needs to be considered. You need to show the team some short-term wins to get belief, but without compromising the long-term goals.

“In pharmacy, some short-term wins are also necessary to show improvement. You need to consider your customer and the competition and make sure your focus remains external,” Pat states.

LEARNING THE HARD LESSONS

James O’Connor sure could’ve used that advice. It saddened even the toughest rugby tragic to witness, at just 23, James forced out of the country as his image took self-inflicted hit after self-inflicted hit. The official launch of ‘Brand O’Connor’ is a mistake that hasn’t been repeated in Australian sport since.

Whether it’s SBW, The Hayne Plane, Izzy or Buddy – they don’t lose touch with the customer. After all, like anyone walking through the door of a pharmacy, they’re the people that buy-in by snapping up merchandise and the tickets. There is no brand, without a customer. More importantly, for your brand to be communicated to your community, your team needs to have buy-in, to believe in what are you doing. They are at the coalface, at the heart of those daily interactions with your customers. If your team doesn’t buy it, there’s little chance your customers will. You need to have the dressing room, in other words. Take a leaf out of Darren Lehmann and Co’s book: you need to lead them in that respect.