Brenton Sanderson gets real about life, sport and failure

Brenton Sanderson with the Adelaide Crows

The former Adelaide Crows coach takes a moment to be brutally honest about learning from failure in one of the world's toughest sports.

In 2012 the new coach of the Adelaide Crows AFL (Australian Rules Football) team took his team from also rans to within a few points of a grand final. Two years later he was sacked, like many before him.

Unlike most, though, Brenton Sanderson has now published a brutal public assessment of his own performance in his weekly column in the Geelong Advertiser. Some of the things he learnt will be familiar to business leaders everywhere:

Listen. “I didn’t accept a variety of personalities within my staff and couldn’t [promote] two-way open communication. I didn’t listen as much as I should have. I did too much ‘telling’.”

Don’t over-manage. “A coach must be able to pull a team together and allocate specific roles rather than attempt to control the situation. The harder it got, the more I tried to do more.”

Deliver the tough messages right. “Learn how to do this consistently. There is a time to be blunt and clear, but you must always follow it up, preferably within the next 24 hours.”

"The harder it got, the more I tried to do more."

Let people in. “I was always promoting myself as an ‘open door manager’, but ... in challenging times, I shut key people out.”

Manage your time. “I felt I was always time poor, but it was more likely I wasn’t organised to prioritise and delegate ... ”

Be discreet. “I talked openly too often about finding and identifying the ‘right people’ for certain roles within the club, which I know left certain staff feeling disillusioned.”

Find a mentor. “I never really identified a key mentor I could trust to bounce ideas off and talk to when I needed help.”

This article is from the June issue of INTHEBLACK.

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June 2015
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