Paul Roos on what it takes to be a leader

Paul Roos
On this episode of the Fitness and Lifestyle podcast I’m joined by AFL superstar turned coach Paul
Roos. Although no longer an AFL coach, Paul’s coaching journey is far from over having founded his
own business, Performance By Design, which guides other individuals and organisations throughout
their leadership journeys. Being extremely humble and down-to-earth, what distinguishes Paul from
many other leadership gurus is his unique ability to offer relevant anecdotes from his own experience;
when you listen to Paul, complex ideas become digestible and applicable to so many areas of your life.
Never have discussions of leadership been so accessible to everyone.
We kick the episode off by chatting about some of the highlights of Paul’s AFL coaching career,
followed by some of the more challenging times. Whether his team was high or low on the ladder, Paul
shares how important it is to always remind players of their own skills and abilities, all whilst leveraging
teams’ the strengths. He also stresses how important it is for teams to develop their own ‘culture code’
and honour it, to instil a sense of unity and common purpose. This is just one of the many key concepts
that Paul has transferred from his AFL career into his business Performance By Design.
No leadership discussion would be complete without delving into the hotly debated question of whether
good leaders are born that way or made that way. Paul brings interesting perspectives to table again
here, explaining that leaders, by their very nature are role models, which in his view, requires a great
deal of empathy combined with an ability to build relationships. As explained by Paul “you can set the
same standards for people, but you can’t lead people the same way”. The notion of adapting one’s
leadership approach to elicit the best response from each unique individual is yet another key lesson
Paul shreds light on – a vital interpersonal skill that extends well beyond the sporting field into everyday
life.
On the subject of what defines a strong leader, Paul believes that the best leaders shine when faced
with adversity. To him, only the best leaders can continue to put their team first and thrive when facing
mounting pressure. This brings us to discuss what leadership looks like in the wake of COVID-19, and
how checking in with others and “controlling the controllables” has never been more important in a time
of so much uncertainty. Without a doubt, this description just scratches the surface of what’s covered in
today’s episode. Get your pen and paper ready to record some noteworthy insights!
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Intro by Will Sparks.
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