One thing that stuck out to me in the media leading up to the start of the second season of the AFLW was the captain’s predictions for the best and fairest medal.

All eight captains put their predictions in, yet not one of them put Erin Phillips, the 2017 best and fairest winner, in the mix for 2018.

Incredibly honoured. Still can’t believe it.

A post shared by Erin Phillips (@erinphillips131) on

Erin had a very successful 2017 in the AFLW getting a clean sweep of the top awards. So why haven’t the 2018 captains (of which she is one) predicted that she will win again?

Raising their game

Despite recent injuries, I don’t believe that Erin Phillips will perform at a lower level in 2018 than she did last year.

Instead, I believe the change is that the other players are rising to her level.

Erin came into the competition with a lot of experience as an elite athlete after a successful international basketball career. She possessed both the football skills and the elite experience to allow her to excel in the inaugural AFLW season. Many of the other women came into the AFLW after playing in local football competitions; whilst undeniably skilful players, they were not elite athletes.

The 2018 season is shaping up to be close one, and the players have come back with all guns blazing. Most of them are back for their second season so they know what it is all about now. They not only have the football skills, they are more mentally prepared for what is to come this season – this will help them take their game to the next level.

Erin will not reduce her level of performance, rather the other players will rise to her level in 2018 and take the benchmark for the best and fairest to a new high.

Erin Phillips (left) with the Adelaide Crows leadership group and Leading Teams facilitator, Kelly Vennus

Aim higher

I see parallel transitions and growth in the business world too.

When there is a team member that performs at an exceptional professional level, the challenge is then set for other team members to grow; it gives them something to aim for.

Performance benchmarks can be set but they are by no means fixed. Business practices evolve, people develop, and they strive for bigger and better things which lifts the overall level to a higher standard.

Striving for improvement and high performance is a wonderful culture to create in business but it must be accompanied with strong professional relationships and genuine conversations to make sure the level of competition stays healthy and doesn’t turn toxic.

When there is an extraordinary person in a team, or someone performing at a higher level than others, we should be celebrating their success and encouraging others to learn from it. Each individual should be encouraged to strive for their next level of personal growth.


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