Leadership Lessons Learned From Australian Sports Leaders


Paul Gallo


I am an avid sports fan, and although I have a soft spot for Soccer having played at a semi-professional level, I love all sport. These days I closely follow AFL and have proudly been a Western Bulldogs supporter for many years. Whether you are an AFL fan or not, I highly suggest that you read this article about Nathan (Jones Co-Captain at the Melbourne Demons) by Chris Judd in Mondays Age. As the CEO of PNORS, this article prompted me to reflect on our leadership team and the culture we have produced.  

Judd makes the point that Nathan Jones is a “cultural hero” coaching and mentoring the younger team members. Furthermore, Judd states that Jones leads by example and sets the expectation that working hard and pushing through the pain leads to great results. As Jones leads by example, the younger members follow suit. And as a result, the train and try harder to match his energy and work ethic. 

This made me consider my personal work ethic and what this means to the whole team at PNORS. I asked myself these questions:

  • Do the team look at our leaders and emulate the way we work?
  • Do they truly understand what it takes to create success?
  • Is success born or bred?

Lately, we have several large, important projects on the go and I have been commencing work quite early and finishing rather late. And as a result, several of my team leaders noticed this and had increased their work rate. I can assure you that this was not my intention as I want to emphasise that it is not about how long your day is, but rather the commensurate effort required to achieve desired results. 

This brings me to the two most valuable lessons that I believe all leads can take way from sporting icons like Judd and Jones.

Leadership lessons learned from Sporting Leaders

Leadership lessons learned from Sporting Leaders

Lesson 1: Working smarter when you can't work harder

As Judd states in this article, while at his age he could not train as hard as Jones and the Melbourne young guns, he would train smarter. Not everybody has the same capabilities, but we desire similar outcomes. At the end of the day training hard could easily lead to an injury. In business terms, working long hours could result in burning yourself out and your productivity taking a step backwards.

Therefore, appreciating everyone’s capabilities is important and at the end of the day it is about reaching agreed and desired targets not worrying about the level of work required to get there. Obviously, if targets are not met, and the level of work is also not present, then changes or adjustments are required.

Lesson 2: Reflect on your leadership culture

Reflect on your leadership cultureMy last point is that as Nathan Jones ages he cannot rely on the level and intensity of training and he must “use his brain rather than his body” as a way of achieving results. This makes me think of the PNORS workforce where we have a mix of staff varying in age and a number of new employees needing the guidance and leadership to kick goals.

Do I look at the workforce and understand where they can best create results for PNORS and importantly themselves? Or is it the culture that achieves results? 

While PNORS is a company of 80 staff, we are about to engage a People & Culture Manager whose job it will be to understand this very question and proactively help develop our PNORS team to meet the challenges of our business. However, I believe that leadership needs to be bred by everyone, not just the management level. 

In summary, leaders do need to set the example of what is required, to understand that a team is strong because of differences and value those but keep sight of your targets. Lastly, leaders must recognise change before it needs to be actioned and help prepare the team to meet these challenges.

I would really appreciate anyone reading my blog to comment and add their thoughts to this article and perhaps your experiences around your leadership styles, thank you.

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Paul Gallo – Group CEO & Founder, PNORS Technology Group

Paul is a successful entrepreneur with a proven track record of creating and transforming businesses into enduring, profitable enterprises.

In 1982 Paul established Disprax Pty. Ltd. to coincide with the development of the now highly successful business management solution, Timber Industry Management and Marketing System (TIMMS), a software solution specifically designed for the timber industry.

Since then, based on industry insights and market trends, Paul has strategically extended his portfolio through the acquisition of Pacific Commerce in 2002, Datatime Services in 2009, Netway Networks in 2010 and WilldooIT in 2016.

Paul has extensive experience across all facets of company management, with specific expertise in sales, management, and leadership. As Group CEO Paul oversees the strategic direction of the PNORS Technology Group.