Do your job

by | Oct 16, 2019

With the AFL Grand Final played, and the Richmond Football Club’s twelfth Premiership cup now touring the country, we can also pack away the cliche and metaphor that accompanies the big game, for a few months at least.

Those same cliches and metaphors find their way inside football clubs. Anyone involved in sport at any level would be familiar with clubrooms full of signs, exhorting greater effort, or articulating the team’s values, behaviours and expectations.

As the AFL season ends, the NFL season starts.

The New England Patriots are the most successful team in the NFL and USA sport. They have established a dynasty of success in a competition designed expressly to stop this happening.

The Patriots have won 74 games in the past five seasons. The next ‘winningest’ team are the Pittsburgh Steelers with 56 wins. The Patriots have lapped the second most winning team.

I have read that the Patriots have only one sign in their clubrooms. It reads:

“Do your job.”

The mantra of ‘do your job’ is simple yet holds immense power. By definition, it requires team members to “know their role, play their role”, bringing into focus the importance of role-players, those grounded individuals who in developing their ‘game’, focus their efforts on becoming a better teammate.

They understand their shortcomings but have the insight and humility to build a game almost in response to, and despite their weaknesses.

We saw a wonderful example of this on Grand Final day.

Marlion Pickett has sat through draft after draft as hundreds of names were called, but never his.

Then, at 27, he is drafted by the famous Richmond Football Club in the first Mid-Season Draft for decades. Many pundits considered this draft a waste of time, but it has proven anything but.

It is difficult to ‘rate’ stories, but this one is on the podium.

Marlion has four kids, spent time in jail in his teens, and only played his first VFL game for Richmond last month.

He made his debut in a Grand Final, the first time this has happened since 1952. He polled votes in the Norm Smith Medal for Best on Ground and now has a Premiership medallion.

The Richmond Football Club recognises its Premiership players with Life Membership, and regardless of what happens from this time onwards, he is part of the folklore of the game and of a great football club, which he will always be able to call home.

Yes, well done Marlion, and the leaders of a club prepared to challenge dogma and are now enjoying the rewards.

But more than anything, on Grand Final day, he ‘did his job’

Thinking more about the notion of ‘do your job’, from both an organisation and individual perspective, I landed on three aspects that allow a person to ‘do their job’, and modelled it:

Functional Capability, not just the individual’s overall competence, the focus is the specific skills and talent required to do their current job well.

By extension, it requires leaders to clearly understand role expectations and explain (most likely coached and taught) the skills required. In sporting terms, this is known as recruiting from the inside out. Knowing what’s ‘inside’ the person, aligned to understanding what’s ‘inside’ the organisation to be sure you know what you are looking for.

Attitude, those individuals who can leverage the best of their abilities through their capacity to build trusted relationships and the consistency of their effort.

It is a combination of the person’s Emotional Intelligence (EQ) with their mettle, having developed the habits and behaviours to build personal resilience in the face of the inevitable challenges ambitious individuals and organisations encounter.

Aptitude, which can be defined in a number of ways, but most fundamentally it is the desire and capacity to learn.

There is a certain determination and honesty implicit in this, a form of integrity and humility, as it requires the individual to focus on their personal development as it relates to their role within the organisation. They are energised by learning, the prospect of growing, of being better.

High aptitude also allows the person to evolve as the organisation faces its ambiguity and the likelihood that it will need to change in the uncertain world that most businesses are required to confront.

The Patriots have a wonderful example of this. Champion quarterback Tom Brady, who at 42 years of age, and with six championship rings and nine Super Bowl appearances, the most out of any player in history, allows himself to be coached like a college free agent striving for a place on the roster. A leader modelling behaviour.

I understand that not everyone will be in a position where they have the requisite expertise and experience to meet the “do your job” expectations, but what is important is that they’re “on-track” to achieve the standard in an agreed time frame.

This is an important conversation, too seldom had, leaving people doubting both their understanding of role expectations and their capacity to meet them.

Hall of Fame AFL coach Allan Jeans would say “You can’t put in what God left out”. So be realistic about your capacity to change people. This is not an excuse for not creating a high-performance culture and mindset if that’s what your challenge requires, but recognise that it must start with the recruitment and development of highly motivated and capable people.

My sense is that the “do your job” has many applications away from the sporting club.

It is a cliche well worth embracing.

I always enjoy the opportunity to talk all things culture and high-performance, and the development of leaders to achieve it.

Here are three ways to start the ball rolling:

  • I teach and coach an integrated leadership performance system utilising sophisticated learning models and systems garnered from elite team sport, ideal for leaders who are committed learners, who understand the responsibility of leadership. To learn more, please arrange your FOC 30-minute leadership telephone consult to discuss your personal, team or organisational challenges or aspirations, please use this link.
  • Participate in our next one-day Leadership Masterclass which I personally facilitate. It is a sophisticated, intimate and practical leadership intensive for aspirational leaders, both current and emerging. To learn more, and to register, please use this link.
  • Sign up for the “More to the Game” weekly email, and receive a copy of my “What business can learn from football” White Paper. The emails are short leadership reflections, no more than a couple of minutes to read and we will always treat our communication with respect. Please use this link.

You can also contact me at and let me know how you think we can work together.

Cameron Schwab
CEO & Founder


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