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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Moloney

Why ‘being a good human’ is an important ingredient for being a good leader.

A leader motivating her team

One of my favourite wellbeing activities is taking walks in nature a few times a week, coupled with listening to my favourite podcast – The Imperfects. This podcast can make me laugh, cry, feel deeply, learn so many new things and coping strategies, and sometimes this is all in one episode! It’s the best – and recently I was thrilled to listen to an episode with a focus on leadership, where Hugh, Ryan & Josh interviewed none other than one of the all-time great rugby league players and now QLD coach – Billy Slater.


Now it’s no secret that I have been a massive fan of Billy Slater for most of his playing and coaching career! I am a diehard Queensland fan, and grew up watching rugby league from a young age. I’m now 44 and my passion for watching rugby league is still strong, and Billy has given me some incredible Origin moments I will never forget. Not only were his skills, knowledge of the game, attitude and professionalism an incredible asset to the team, but his presence on the field always made me feel more confident in that end result. But I think the thing I admired most about Billy during his playing career was that he just seemed like one of the good guys – always dedicated, loyal, respectful, friendly and humble. The sort of person you would love to just be mates with if you had the chance!


If you have a spare hour up your sleeve, I highly encourage you to listen to this episode of The Imperfects with Billy Slater, or watch the video. It doesn’t matter if you are a rugby league fan or not, this discussion about ‘leadership’ is one that will stay with me for some time. So much of what Billy said resonated with me when I reflected on my own personal thoughts and experiences with leadership, and there is so much ‘good’ to take away in terms of leadership strategies. I think a lot of this came down to number one - being a good human, and caring deeply about your team and how to help them thrive. This is incredibly transferrable into the workplace, and these are the key things I would like to reflect on:


·      When giving feedback to your team members, don’t purely focus on areas for development, but highlight their strengths, skills and positive contributions. If you help your team members bring more of their strengths, and nurture these, it’s an incredible contribution having people bringing their best selves to their work.

·      Your team are a beautiful bunch of very different and diverse human beings. Take the time to get to know them on a personal level as well as a working relationship. Putting the effort into building individual relationships with team members is critical to build trust and effective open communication. Learn about their backgrounds, interests, culture, family, and value them for the humans they are, not solely the job they do. Employees want to feel cared for and valued, and showing this level of care factor is going to go a long way towards engagement and them wanting to do their best.


·      Always lead by example! If you want your team to have a strong work ethic and dedication, then you need to model this. It’s such an advantage for team members to know that as a leader you are right there with them in what you are asking them to achieve. Get involved in what they are doing, always be approachable and respectful, and treat your team with fairness.


·      Of course, it’s important for your team to fully understand what you want them to achieve and why, on a team level and also individually to reach this outcome, but how do you actually inspire them to achieve this? This is where ‘the way they feel’ will be powerful. Billy describes how he tries to create ‘moments’ and have an incredible support team around his team that also help influence how they feel. This is so important for evoking their passion and purpose, and being there for each other in the true sense of a team.


·      To be an effective leader, you also need to bring your ‘best self’ to the role. We all have down periods in our lives and roles -  that’s a part of life. But if you have the self-awareness and ability to know how to fill your own cup up and get back to being the best version of yourself, you are going to be more effective in your role as a leader. Your personal wellbeing plays a critical role in this. If you are asking others to bring the best versions of themselves to what they do, they will want to see this from you too.


While these are only a few areas to help excel in leading others and achieving great results, taking this ‘human centred’ approach to leadership can influence positives not only in the workplace or in the team, but also in helping individuals improve their self-worth and thrive in other areas of life. Show empathy, be kind, be respectful and fair, and know how to motivate others effectively to get the most out of them. That’s definitely the type of leader I would like to have, or be!

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