QUT’s Leadership Coaching Conference on 22 and 23 November features two speakers from QUT’s Faculty of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences. I spent a fascinating hour with Associate Professor Ian Renshaw and Dr Adam Gorman talking about how they are going to tackle the ‘Crossing Boundaries’ theme in the Conference. Their answer was through a series of anecdotes from their rich experiences in high-performance sports coaching and teaching around the world.
Our conversation ranged from the nets in Raul Dravid’s Coaching Academy in Bengaluru, to Canada’s women’s football fields, to the Australian Institute of Sport programs in Canberra, to cricket clinics in Dubai, along with discussion of how to advance Australia’s cricketing fortunes. I was privy to secrets of how Andre Agassi learned to read Boris Becker’s serve by noticing his face! The common theme was innovation. Each story illustrated that sports coaching has moved a long way from the traditional ‘tell and terror’ that may have characterized earlier epochs. There is now a sophistication backed by science, and mixed with an interest in the uniqueness and power of each individual – within the group/team context. Ian and Adam demonstrated a curiosity in how different cultures approached challenges, and how those differences might be engaged to advantage.
They have embraced the work of coaching pioneer Sir John Whitmore in adapting the GROW model to their teaching and coaching. They are advocates for ‘representative practice’ – of ensuring that practice sessions simulate key aspects of specific performance environments, thereby having relevance to what people will face on the field of play. Their pragmatic approach draws on ecological psychology in examining functional adaptations of organisms to their environment – avoiding the trap of being locked into rigid technical approaches. What came across in the conversation was intense curiosity about finding innovative ways to help people be successful, and a passion for learning and growth.
Their stories and ideas will resonate with leaders and executive coaches who are facing challenges of adaptation in high pressured environments. Lessons from sport are lessons from high performing individuals in teams under pressure – the bread and butter of business. The crossover into QUT’s approach to leadership in the MBA is clear – with an emphasis on adaptation, mindfulness, coaching, and setting intention. I look forward to introducing Ian and Adam to you at our conference.
For information about the Leadership Coaching Conference “Crossing Boundaries” highlights read more.