Anthony Griffin

Leadership Lessons With Anthony Griffin

I had the pleasure of attending a boardroom style breakfast with the National Rugby League coach and commentator Anthony Griffin. Anthony shared some of his thoughts and ideas around leadership from his experience in elite sports and how it integrates with the world of business.

The facilitated discussion style was centred on four main topics.

  • Leadership

  • Ego

  • High Performance

  • Resilience


 Anthony spoke about the need to understand yourself first to be successful as a leader and to get real clarity around who you are and the long-term outcomes you desire. To have belief in yourself is paramount and with this a belief in your systems and process.

“Its impossible for others to believe in you unless you believe in yourself first”

 Believing in yourself helps you, as a leader, define the vision and to empower others in the pursuit of it. The clarity you get from the belief and knowledge provides confidence in empowering others. The commitment for the long term provides energy for the short term.


Empathy and humility are two of the key attributes of being a good leader. As a leader or an elite sportsperson, an ego and confidence is a healthy thing. But when an ego is out of control it quickly becomes dangerous. A healthy ego should have the ability to put the team first. This was one of the key messages. The term “drop the ego” was a constant and as a leader, you must lead the way. You cannot expect the player or team member to drop the ego, if you as the leader is overwhelmed by yours. 

“Lose the ego! Players love to see a humble leader and feel your empathy. When they know you care about them, they will care about you”

Anthony Griffin let us know that egos are driven in two ways. From protecting the past (the past deeds of the player or individual) or perceiving the future (that link of potential and what could be). And the coach or the leader has to set the example.

The question I raised was the balance between short term quest for results and the long term thinking he described. In the elite sports world, fans, committees, and players are hunting for results, while as a leader we need a commitment to drive long term outcomes that better the place and the organisation. That’s a conundrum that many leaders face daily.

I thought to myself while listening that:

“Short term results pander to the ego”

In the quest for short term results, leader will often overlook the selfish behaviours and thinking of the big personality. Star players are often excused from their behaviour in that insatiable quest for quick results and the corresponding negative impact on the team ignored. This leads to longer term problems and toxicity and this is what I have seen and experienced in the business and sporting world. 

That is why Anthony’s principles are so valid. Drop the ego first as a leader if you expect others to do the same. A selfless team is the one that goes places. 

High Performance

From experience, high performance is driven by a simple formula. Anthony shares the manner in which he works with elite teams.

  • 60% of your time should be invested in working on your strengths.

  • 30% of your time should be invested in improving your areas of opportunity

  • 10% of your focus is on resetting.

Many businesses have this backward with a focus on lifting your weaknesses to an acceptable standard. This focus creates a negative tinge as we always thinking about the areas of where we are not the best. To deliver a high-performance culture, invest in your strengths. The message was clear.


The capacity for a leader/player to remain calm under pressure and stay bolted on to the framework and structure is a critical component of team success. Trust and practicing at game speed are the components that helps build resilience in players and the same is evident in the business world. Reflect on how you can build your leadership team and have them “practice at game speed” to win in the heat of the battle. What does this look like for you?

Insight – Anthony Griffin

Getting a glimpse of the thought processes of an elite coach, was incredibly beneficial and the executives around the table felt the same. It’s not just the sporting stories that were shared it was the reflection of what they meant to each of us in our current circumstances.

Anthony Griffin can be contacted through his website at


Tony Curl
Author: Tony Curl

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