Recently I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by Ange Postecoglou – the Australian Soccer Coach.

He was very interesting and shared a lot about his life and journey and taking the Australian soccer team to victory at the Asian Cup.  So much of his philosophy is relevant to business and life.

In 1970 his parents left Greece to come to Australia – “to give their kids a better life”.  As a 5yo, all Ange wanted to do was fit in.   He played Aussie Rules and barracked for Carlton (first big mistake).

Then he spent time at Hellas Soccer Club – as that was where he would meet more Greeks in this ‘foreign’ country.  At age 30 he coached Sth Melbourne and as a coach he found his place.  He confesses he wasn’t much of a player!

He had a clear philosophy pf how to coach and lead players:  Coaching is Change Management.  Make up your mind about what is wrong and what needs to be fixed – then put in place whatever it takes to make that happen.  But be prepared to get reduced returns for a period as change takes place.  Must be disciplined to keep at change and must not lose focus.

He says there are 2 types of coaches – those that hate to lose and those that love to win.  He is of the second variety!

His message is:  “we will win no matter what you put up against us”.

In his first World Cup Australia drew 3 of the top 10 nations in the world!  His message was – ‘look at this as a chance to be legends’! – not – ‘how can we avoid being thrashed’!  He set up his team to win – not to not lose.

“Don’t worry about the possibility of failure – do what you do with the mindset of aiming to win.”  No negative culture!

Culture is shaped by the people who are part of the organisation.  When Ange goes into an organisation (ie the Aussie Soccer Team) the first thing he does is move out the people who don’t want to be part of what he aims to achieve – those who don’t fit the culture.

He doesn’t have rules (eg being late, wrong attire etc) but does demand respect.  If people respect each other then respect will drive the right attitude.

“Travel the road less travelled and stay the course!”

When he took over the Aussie soccer team he did things differently – he went on the road and played all away games – not playing easy sides on home soil.  He played tough matches in uncomfortable countries – to get his new young side to toughen up and get better.  Message – taking the easy road won’t make you better!   With each game he set targets and team goals.  They lost every game, but met every goal.

“Performance over results”.  He analysed the performance without worrying about the scoreboard – ‘don’t let a couple of mistakes stop the focus on the end goal’!  Stick to your principles and your culture.

His goal is to win a World Cup!  Impossible for Australia?  Who knows – but if one does everything one must do to be successful and does everything in keeping with attaining their goal then you will have a far greater chance than if you decide you can’t and don’t try!  “Aim to do things that haven’t been done before!”

The Asian Cup Final – Australia drew in normal time after the opposition scored a late equaliser.  His message to his team was:  “You have the chance to write the chapter in the book of Australian Soccer history – so let’s make it a good ending”!  Australia won in extra time.

He believes the teams focus on ‘doing was is required to win’ was more powerful than the oppositions’ fear of losing.

Final message to the leaders of business or organisations:  “You must have total conviction in what you say and do, otherwise your team won’t believe in you or follow you”.

Well done Ange!