It’s not every day that you get to sit down with a man that has one of 2017’s toughest jobs, and luckily Marsh Tincknell – Brisbane Accountants – recently had that opportunity at one of their Boardroom Breakfasts welcoming Nick Stiles – the Reds’ head coach for 2017.

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Queensland Rugby undertook a ‘worldwide’ search for a leader that could bring the Reds out of their recent rough patch, and put them back on top. However, they ultimately opted for somebody already in the mix – Nick Stiles, who had been the assistant coach for the past two seasons. Marsh Tincknell Accountants were fortunate enough to gain some insight from Nick into leadership, managing personalities and transitioning from personal success into a mentoring role.

Having played for both the Reds and the Wallabies in his younger days, Nick took up an assistant coaching role in 2007. In his initial two years as a head coach, he guided Brisbane City to back-to-back titles during the first two years of the National Rugby Championship. Nick has a reputation for success, but it’s how he has translated his own success into developing Reds’ youngsters such as Taniela Tupou, Sef Faagase and Andrew Ready that shows Nick’s real talent. So how did, and how does Nick translate his personal achievements into coaching? While we all may very well see personal victories in our own lives – how exactly do we instill our own ability to succeed throughout the team we’re managing?

In a word – culture. That’s where the strongest, longest-lasting bonds are formed – and culture is what opens the ears of your team members to personal development, both on and off the field. It’s one thing to “pass on your wisdom” but it’s another to have that wisdom actually listened to, comprehended and legitimately taken on board.

So how do we develop an inclusive culture that promotes sharing and being receptive of feedback, ideas and wisdom?

–          According to Nick, first and foremost is hard work. Not just believing in it or teaching it, but actively DOING it. When the leader is the hardest working team member, it’s a bit like being the bird at the front of the flock. Every time they flap their wings, they create an updraft and make it easier for those behind them to do the same – and so on. But if you just ‘tell’ your team to work hard – then who’s really creating the updraft? Who’s at the front? Does simply ‘instructing’ rather than leading by example create a culture of ‘telling’ rather than ‘doing’? It absolutely does. Nick Stiles works hard on his team, and they know that. It’s part of the reason he’s reached where he is today.

–          Pastoral care and enjoying oneself – on and off the field. As Nick said, when we look at Super Rugby players, we almost see an “ego as strong as Teflon” but the reality is that they are human beings like the rest of us – they need proper care and layered happiness to remain successful. This comes down to accepting that everyone has emotions – sometimes they run high, and we can’t think we’re bigger than having someone care for and help us. We especially can’t ignore the fact that our team will need this kind of care as well. If our rugby players aren’t too ‘big’ to accept this kind of care and support on and off the field, neither are we. In the end – it comes down to a balance. If you only work hard, you wear out. If you only relax, you don’t move forward. But balancing these two creates momentum and traction in our lives. It’s the team leader’s role to help everyone achieve that balance with pastoral care.

–          Challenge yourself. When you master the art of both working hard and properly taking care of yourself – according to Nick, you’re heading in the right direction. But how do we move faster? By constantly challenging ourselves and never falling into complacency. After playing for Queensland and the Wallabies, Nick could have stayed on a plateau but instead he went on to take his career into coaching, and reach new heights. It’s this ability to challenge yourself that forms a big part of leading by example, and it rubs off onto your team – who end up doing the same. Nick is determined to keep on trekking uphill, at pace, which makes him well suited for the challenge of resurrecting the Reds Super Rugby fortunes in 2017.

We can all take away a thing or two from Nick, and Marsh Tincknell was extremely fortunate to hear some of this insight first-hand. What can you take away from these lessons Nick passed on?

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