The connection between sport and business isn’t new.
However, I was so engrossed in the AFL season this year, that the link has now become stronger for me.
I have closely followed my team, the Carlton Football Club, through its highs and lows.
Their remarkable journey reminded me of the peaks and troughs many of us experience in commercial real estate.
So, before the finals are behind us, I have penned this article to reflect on a few learnings and share some key takeaways.
Sticking to the plan despite external noise
When Carlton lost eight out of nine games, they plummeted to 15th on the ladder.
But they didn’t panic or get swayed by the savage external commentary.
The coach, Michael Voss, emphasised defence-first.
Just like in commercial real estate, focusing on one area of improvement – and not getting distracted by the 17 other things that you could be doing – can be the spark that leads to overall success.
In practice, this might centre around generating better leads, doing more prospecting, or improving your conversion rates, but the idea is the same: diagnose the main problem, fix it and then do more.
Understanding roles for team success
Carlton’s resurgence could be attributed to team members understanding their roles within the overarching strategy.
In commercial real estate, the rainmakers are often celebrated, but every role is crucial; checking that everyone understands how their contribution is relevant to the bigger picture will get more people inspired to give their best.
It also ensures that people can focus on what they’re good at – because they have confidence that the people around them won’t let them down.
Systems over individual brilliance
As James Clear notes in Atomic Habits, you don’t rise to the height of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.
When players are sidelined due to injury, or people in your team are not at their best, strong systems provide a floor on overall performance.
The system should be comprehensive and well understood, ensuring every team member has a part to play in contributing to the result.
From player to coach: Michael Voss
Michael Voss’ journey stands out.
An accomplished and highly decorated player, his 15-year coaching journey has been far more challenging.
He made a fast start, taking Brisbane to finals in 2009, but this year is only the second time he has taken a team into September as a senior coach.
Voss has proven to be the leader that he always was, but he’s also demonstrated that setbacks can lead to great comebacks – especially if you’re humble, committed and willing to do the work.
Teams need to stick together during tough times.
When the going got tough for Carlton, people on the inside didn’t blame each other or look for scapegoats, but instead they took collective responsibility.
The organisation has done the work to build a culture that prioritises team success over individual achievement, within an environment where the players have the mutual respect required to call each other out when everyone needs to lift.
Playing to your strengths
At the midpoint of the season, after it fixed up defence, Carlton returned to its strengths: ferociousness at contests and huge scores from clearance.
Similarly, in commercial real estate, you can play to your strengths – that’s what you should be talking about to clients and prospects, and emphasising in your pitches and content.
Understand what sets you and your team apart – and then leverage that position in the marketplace.
Even if you’re not a Bluebagger, the essence of teamwork, leadership, and focusing on strengths is universal.
It’s about having confidence in your plan, implementing robust systems, and rallying your team towards success, regardless of short-term fluctuations.
Success in commercial real estate, as in AFL, comes from consistency, resilience, and adaptability.