Craig Bellamy’s Melbourne Storm have played in six grand finals from the last eleven seasons and he boasts the highest win percentage of any rugby league coach, past or present. 5% higher better than legendary coaches Jack Gibson and Wayne Bennett.
Let’s look at the leadership lessons that create their winning culture
Culture is spoken about in the business world like some sort of esoteric ‘thing’ that very few can explain or demonstrate, but at the Melbourne Storm, culture is not intangible. It’s real. And it breeds champion players and a champion team.
The Storm’s culture is built on leadership, honesty and humility. The head coach is established and the expectations of everyone (coaches and players) is incredibly high. This culture of ‘high standards’ elevates players to new levels. When the Storm’s Cooper Cronk recently addressed his team mates at a lunch to celebrate his 300th game, he made the point: “this club allows you to be better than you are”.
Execute the basics well
Cameron Smith has spoken previously about the sometimes boring nature of the team’s repetitive training drills. Perfect practice makes perfect. Between the training paddock and the real game, there is no difference. A mistake is a mistake, no matter the arena. And Bellamy will pounce. Ball control and possession is a key part of that. Drop the ball at training and Storm players drop to the floor and perform push-ups. It’s a practice so drilled into each player that, once, a Melbourne player dropped a ball in a real game and immediately went to his knees to perform push-ups. This pursuit of perfect execution of the basics is one of the foundations of the Storm’s consistency.
In the 2016 season, the Storm had the highest completion rate in the competition
Create a leadership team
Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith are the 3 on-field generals leading, instructing, and demanding more of their team mates. They believe in the system and the game plan and giving them a leadership role allows them to role model and demand high standards. Each player knows their part, but they were not superstars when they arrived at the club. In fact, once upon a time, these Brisbane players were overlooked by Brisbane Broncos recruitment staff.
“Melbourne Storm is everything you want your football team to be. They take kids, develop and nurture them, and turn them into champions. They turn the team into a champion team, and the club into a champion club.” – Phil Gould
Craig Bellamy philosophy it’s old school. It’s a school of humility and staying grounded. He emphasises the need for good manners, in all kinds of interactions. With fans, with hotel, and flight staff.
A Melbourne Storm pre-season also typically includes hard labour as a sledgehammer reminder of the employment alternative for these young men, sometimes this means digging holes and Craig Bellamy himself rolls the sleeves up and does the sessions with the team.