002 – Pat Howard – An Extraordinary Career (so far)

Cricket Australia - General Manager of Team Performance - Former Wallaby

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Pat Howard is in the midst of a pretty incredible career. He played 20 tests for the Wallabies during a decade-long professional rugby career. He has been a first grade coach, a rugby administrator, a high performance director for Australian Rugby, a Chief Operating Officer for a property funds management group – and right now he’s the General Manager of Team Performance with Cricket Australia.

…and he’s learned a truckload along the way about how to manage himself and other people. He knows a thing or two about goal setting, decision making, dealing with pressure and working out what’s important in life.

Pat has consciously extracted lessons about life and leadership on every step of his journey – and he was only too happy to share them during this episode of the Team Guru Podcast.


Lessons Learned

Here’s what I took out of the episode:

  • As a player you are more focussed on yourself as an individual
  • The way success is measured depends on the industry that you’re in
  • The Brumbies went from being a team of NSW and Queensland rejects into Australia’s most successful provincial rugby team in such a short period of time? They are Australia’s most successful sports start up
  • There are huge benefits of starting a new team. It has a clean slate which provides an opportunity to create your own history
  • The maturity of the Brumbies in the early days played a huge role in their success – they very quickly went from ‘how am I going to get in this team and stay there’, to ‘how are we going to win and inspire the public’.
  • If you’re worried about losing your job or your place in the team you have two options – go into your shell or have a go. If you’re going to fail, you might as well fail your way
  • When you are under performance pressure it pays to think through the worst case. Realise it’s not that bad and move on positively
  • Inaugural Brumbies coach Rob Macqueen threw around some crazy ideas – and ‘even if we thought they couldn’t work it had the effect of creating innovative thinking’
  • The players thought ‘that’s crazy Rod. Fortunately we’re here to fix things up.’ – it took 10 years for Pat to realise that was Rod Macqueen’s way of sparking creativity
  • Having a creative and innovative environment is great – but some people still need that clear direction and structure
  • ‘We couldn’t be the best, we couldn’t be the strongest but we could be the smartest. That was the recruitment mentality we had at the Brumbies’
  • In a team environment it’s essential to individualise roles and goals and then communicate a clear collective purpose
  • Sporting analogies for a business environment have their limitations – having a collective purpose in a team sport is usually quite easy and clear – but it’s much harder to create that genuine collective objective in a professional setting
  • Pat Howard – the collector of experiences
  • Being a coach prepares you for the business world – having tough conversations that really affect people’s lives. These lessons were more valuable than any MBA or any other formal education Pat has experiences
  • Pat has taken lessons from all the coaches and leaders he has worked with. He has adopted techniques and philosophies from all of them – and made them his own
  • Being involved in sport prepares you for the tough times your professional and personal life can throw at you
  • One of Pat’s greatest strengths is his ability to make decisions. He doesn’t shy away from the tough calls and expects to be held accountable for them – and he doesn’t need 100% of the information to make decisions. Just enough to make the call, commit to it and move forward
  • Having good people reporting to you is important – you must believe and trust the people around you


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