What your business can learn from the NRL.

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The NRL recently found themselves embroiled in a major off-field drama where a star of the game was pictured on social media in a position not fitting the sport or his place in it. Sport these days is a business and our associations often make headlines, not just for the game itself, but more so about off field drama and power plays. Do a quick Google search and you can find the following.

“NRL to consider “bad boy” bond”
“NRL to subtract points for bad behaviour” 
“How many more scandals can the NRL handle?
We have had drugs and sex scandals. We have had performance enhancing investigations. We have alcohol and drink driving scandals. We have had domestic violence incidents. Salary cap rorting. Game fixing allegations…..I am sure you getting the picture. That’s off the field.
Off the field is also where we see power plays and struggles, influence and bullying tactics. All played out in the media for the world to see. The true influence in rugby league is held by power brokers, vested in media interests and not the actual leadership of the game.

On the field we see the continuing saga of the standards of the referees, illegal play, wrestling tactics, inconsistency from the people who regulate the laws of the game and recently some very serious injuries, that will affect some young men for the rest of the lives.

So while the NRL is dishing out some great product, it’s the negative press that dominates. So what can we learn from the NRL

Recruit for Character

Some of the great coaches rarely have problems with players or off-field scandal. Why? They start with character. There are many talented players left on the sidelines and backfields of the game of rugby league, because  they didn’t have the character that matched their talent. At times people make allowances for extremely talented players….great coaches don’t.

Act Early

At the first sniff of trouble, act. Many will ignore the first whiff of trouble and conflict. Great leaders don’t. It is better to be dealing by the shovel load, than having a truck back up and dump it’s load. Act Early. Don’t stick your head in the sand. It is far easier to have a process that deals with trouble early, before it becomes a major issue. Take the tip. The early trouble is as unacceptable to your business as what it can lead to.

Communicate Clearly

You need to gain alignment from your team. We all should have a vision for our business or team and that vision needs to communicated with clarity so they gain alignment and understand their role that they play. When that vision isn’t understand, and when that role they play isn’t understood is when trouble is just around the corner. Ensure that clarity is obtained and understood. They’re should be nothing ambiguous about a person’s role and accountability in your business.

Focus on the Positive

Focus on the positive and provide recognition and rewards processes. Sport at times takes the positive work as a given and doesn’t provide the necessary acknowledgement to the individuals concerned. By focussing on the positive the positive has this funny habit of increasing.


The key to any business success is learning from our let-downs and the let-downs of others. Build your business on a foundation of values and character, communicate clearly and align your team to a vision and combine that with a capacity to learn and grow and you will attain success.

Tony Curl is a Leadership Coach who works alongside leaders and executives by aligning their actions with their desired outcomes and goals. He has over 29 years experience in Operational Leadership and combines that with international leadership and coaching certifications. He can be contacted by here.


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Tony Curl

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