One of Australia’s greatest batsman, Justin Langer, shared his lessons on leadership with business leaders during this week’s ANZ & CCIWA Economic Breakfast.
He knows what it’s like to be under extreme pressure and scrutiny, feel the responsibility of others on his shoulders, and his resilience has been tested countless times.
Many business leaders may relate to this – as leadership in sport and business have many similarities.
“Justin’s wisdom was earned under pressure at the top of elite sport. He shared a number of insights that can be applied to running a business, whether it relates to retaining staff, managing costs, ESG, global uncertainty or technology shifts,” says CCIWA CEO Chris Rodwell.
“He’s a great storyteller and his retelling of moments where he relaxed and smiled in moments of adversity were especially fitting given the pace at which 2023 has kicked off.”
In the past 12 months Langer has presented across various sectors such as banking, financial services, property, sport and charity, and he’s noticed a commonality.
“Everyone is talking the same language about the pressures they’re under – ESG, compliance, cashflow, costs and probably the strongest retaining and attracting staff,” Langer says.
He offered insight on how business leaders can manage these challenges.
Slow down and the importance of taking care of yourself so you don’t burn out
Referring to his “hippy month”, Langer dedicates each April to slowing down. Having been hit in the head several times when playing cricket, he became concerned that long-term damage had been caused when he started to feel dizzy. But the doctor confirmed his brain was fine and the problem was due to burnout. This made him reassess and slow down.
“Take care of yourself, because leaders are being watched – everything you do and say, people are watching. Unless you can be sharp, focused and agile, you can’t help anyone else,” he says.
In adversity, learn the lessons – and smile
A valuable piece of advice Langer once received was in South Africa from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “In adversity, learn the lessons”.
“Through those tough times, we build character and resilience,” Langer says, reflecting on the traumatic experiences Archbishop Tutu had managed, including apartheid.
Great leaders can’t do it all themselves
Looking to a photo of him and four team mates, Langer says it reflects how being a great leader takes a village, because you can’t be a great leader alone.
“I wasn’t a great captain because I thought everyone had to be like me. I also learnt this lesson by becoming a dad of four beautiful daughters who had the same upbringing, yet are all different. And our colleagues are all different. We have to respect that.”
Langer says some of his greatest sporting highlights are because of his team mates.
When under pressure, you learn who your friends are
Ten days before Langer’s first time opening the batting for Australia, he was on the verge of retiring because he had not been performing well. But the then captain Steve Waugh believed in him and had his back, which was enough for Langer to then believe in himself.
Make people feel special
Remembering the time he met Queen Elizabeth II, although it was a brief encounter the attention she gave him when shaking his hand and saying “nice to meet you” made him feel special.
“If the Queen of England can make me feel special, we can make our kids feel special; we can make our colleagues feel special; we can make our clients feel special. If you make people feel special, you’ll have them for life and they’ll run through a brick wall for you.”
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