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  • Jack Fleming

Eddie Jones & Ric Charlesworth: Utilising Psychology in Teams

"One of the challenges for for an exceptional coach is to truly understand that what is obvious to him, may not be at all obvious to his athletes or staff." - Professor Corinne Reid

Eddie Jones is one of the worlds most experienced and decorated coaches in rugby union.

But his aura, intensity, and demand lead him to some road bumps in his coaching. There was a need for the players to take more ownership of their performance. An underlying question, how can this be done better?

Ric Charlesworth has been the head coach of our Australian mens and women's teams in field hockey. He has lead teams to success in every competition there is from the Olympics, Champions Trophy and the Commonwealth Games. He is a qualified Doctor, and was also a Federal politician.

His 'eternal vigilance' as he calls it, and continual quest for improvement lead him to the same place as Eddie Jones.

Winning was never enough, and his vast intense knowledge of the game - sometimes lead to passivity amongst the players and staff. Fear of speaking up and sharing their vulnerabilities. He believed he had not created the right atmosphere to communicate constructively under pressure. What can we do to keep improving?

Ric being first, which helped Eddie put them on the path towards Professor Corinne Reid who helped dig into psychology of these teams seeking to be the best. She was a close companion for their teams at different points in Ric & Eddie's career. Corinne is the current Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research at Victoria University. Here are my notes, the come from the two books above as well as the podcast linked at the bottom of the page. All quotes are from Professor Corinne Reid. Enjoy!

The Untapped Potential of Teams

  • Most teams talk about honesty and courage, but often it's a thin layer with vulnerability underneath it.

  • The best shot for a team is when the entire eco-system is in synchronisation, from the head coach to the last player to the support staff.

  • Tough conversations is where you make your biggest progress.

  • A critical relentless mindset to improve those vulnerable conversations.

What is Excellence?

"Children are given medals, certificates and awards for everything they do. This is meant to provide them with evidence that they can achieve anything they put their minds to but in reality it tells us that we can achieve excellence without trying – excellence will ‘happen’ if you turn up."

  • A culture of excellence is an emergent property of these foundational values.

"Being the best you can be may not be enough to win, or it may be just enough to win, but if it is more than enough to win, then winning is not enough. Being the best you can be, remains the goal – it may be enough to change the landscape of the sport and of the person. It always redefines what is possible."

Evolving Leadership Styles

  • Both coaches all about a quest to engineer their own redundancy,

  • Charlesworth believe when they lost in the 2012 Olympics, they were not productive enough in their 'downtime'. How a team manages itself when the ball is out of play.

  • Both had to start to learn to lead from behind, by talking at the end of meetings not the start and doing things to disrupt the teams reliance on the head coach.

Keys to Critical Conversations

  1. Don’t waste time on ‘fake issues’ – focus on issues that are real points of vulnerability for the team. Things are never okay, elite players are excellent at camouflaging issues.

  2. Decide who the key parties are that need to be involved in this conversation if all perspectives are to be represented.

  3. Adopt a stance of openness, curiosity, willingness to change.

  4. Do not rush to a solution, spend the time fully hearing the message.

  5. Invite emotion into the conversation – emotions will be there in vulnerable moments so best that they

Achieving exceptional feats invariably requires venturing into uncharted waters.

If you're at the edge of being the best in the world there is no road map.

What once was off the grid becomes business as normal, always need to keep pushing more buttons.

My Key Takeaway

The mindset of these two gentleman, in a quest for excellence sets the tone for the entire team. They both demonstrate that even at the top of the top, number one in the world, there is room for improvement that others haven't even imagined.

I highly recommend you read these two books! And here is the accompanying podcast which was brilliant.

Thanks for Reading!

If you would like to contact me - please feel free to message me on Twitter @jack_fleming1, comment or e-mail me at

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