On Leadership Traits

The Traits That Define Great Coaches

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In late 2022 we returned home to Australia after living as expats in Europe and Asia for 16 years. It was an exciting time for all of us, starting to set up our new life.

One of the things I enjoyed most about being home was meeting new people and making new friends and connections. Around this time I interviewed the iconic rowing coach Noel Donaldson. Noel has coached teams from Australia and New Zealand to Olympic Gold and was terrific to interview.

Afterwards he suggested I contact Bill Davoren, who led the Australian Institute of Sport Coach Development team, as he was sure I would find a lot in common with him.

I went on to meet Bill, and he challenged me with an interesting idea. He invited me to come along and speak to some of the Australian coaches in his Gen32 program about what I have learned from the 200+ Great Coaches I have interviewed. I gladly accepted and then set about trying to condense all that I have learnt.

The interviews had already convinced me that there was no algorithm for leadership, but after reviewing the transcripts I felt I could identify the leadership traits of the Great Coaches and group them into 4 keys areas.

In today’s podcast I will take you through the traits I have identified using audio from the Great Coaches themselves. We have also created a survey that you can take to compare your leadership style to those of the Great Coaches - it’s free, only takes a few minutes and should help you identify areas of relative strength and weakness.

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Leadership Insights

Every Monday, Dan McKellar starts his week by assembling the leaders he works with to discuss the leadership opportunities that were taken (and missed) the week before.

How do you (and your team) make the time to reflect on past decisions?

Thriving Teams

Our Thriving Teams podcast series may have come to an end, but our enthusiasm for sharing the Thrive model with our listeners prevails.

The Thrive model encompasses six integral elements for achieving the success and well-being of teams, and we feel that it aligns well with all of the leadership insights and advice that we’ve gathered from over 200 interviews with Great Coaches from across the world of sports.

To help you make the most of the Thrive model and uncover new ways to lead your own team we created our free, simple diagnostic which uses 18 questions to identify how close your team is to thriving, and (importantly) what can be done to improve. So many of you have already given it a shot - if you haven’t tried it yet, then click the link below to find out more:

Additionally, we’re also offering virtual and live workshops focusing on the integral elements of team success (with Great Coach participation!) and - for leaders who really want to take the Thrive model to the next level - we now offer individual coaching sessions.

You can watch the video below to find out more about our new Thriving Teams offerings. If you’d like to organise a workshop or session for yourself (or want to talk in more depth about the Thrive model as a whole) then please get in touch at [email protected]


This newsletter is brought to you by Macquarie University Business School’s MBA program. Designed to empower, challenge and transform, the Macquarie MBA gives you the business skills and knowledge you need to succeed in an evolving global economy.

Contact Us

If you have any feedback or if you would like to speak to us directly feel free to contact us at [email protected].