Touch Football Australia is the national peak body for the sport and is directly responsible for system leadership, policy development, public relations and pathway management.

TFA offers numerous domestic competitions across the country, with over 500,000 participants annually, the sport is offered in both summer and winter periods, in a number of forms including short form competitions and events. The sport is inclusive at all levels and is an ideal participation sport for men, women and children from introduction through their entire lifetime.

The sport has undertaken significant change over time to position itself strongly in the Australian sporting market including self-imposed governance and management reform to unify operations, and the recent announcement of a ‘strategic alliance’ with the National Rugby League.

Interview with TFA CEO, Colm Maguire

When did you first engage with LTA?

We first engaged Leading Teams in late 2012.

What issues were you noticing in your team that needed addressing?

The team had operated under certain conditions for a length of time where relationships were not operating at a level that was optimal. There were fractured relationships and the team was not being seen as unified by the extended workforce.

Overall there had been much done about culture internally however, self-implementation was not getting the results we needed in order to take the team to the next level.

There were also external factors that had impacted the way the team were leading and we needed to take stock of the way in which we could improve the position overall to counter negativity.

Why Leading Teams?

Having researched Leading Teams and followed the constant references to the results they were achieving particularly within the AFL field, we were interested to understand the model more specifically.

Noting that much of the model was about genuine conversations, honesty in feedback and culture improvement it was clearly aligned to the areas we wanted to specifically fix.

Also, being a sporting body and implementing much of what we know from a similar field, we knew this could transition well into a corporate/sport structure.

What is the impact of working with Leading Teams?

The impact is profound. The leadership team has unified and made immeasurable steps toward living its trademark. Relationships have improved significantly and the leadership team have positioned themselves well to lead the organisation and support each other.

The program will continue to spread and this will empower the staff. We have a framework not only to measure our performance as a group but the tools and permission to assist/support each other to be the best we can be.

What areas in your business use Leading Teams?

The Leadership Team initially utilised this to ensure that we were role modelling the appropriate behaviours. I always had a view that the mechanisms and program needed to spread through the workforce in order to create a true organisational culture. This included the management team at senior level and the State Network.

We are on a journey of expanding the program and believe that ultimately we would like to include the Board as well as the Member States. It is with true alignment of culture and behaviours that the organisation can hold itself to account.

The view is that the culture can and will outlive the current personnel – a real succession plan for the organisation. We have an opportunity to set up the way the sport is destined to behave into the future and this will ensure success.

What is different about Leading Teams?

The honesty and direct nature of conversations. The program gets to the root of any issues by challenging individuals to understand themselves and others. The continual check on progress and firm focus on accountability is something that can be lived not just utilised in a work or sport environment. It makes you realise what is important to you and hold yourself to account on the values you hold to be dear to you or your organisation and how they fit with your team members to create collective culture.

What is the single biggest improvement you have seen in your team/organisation and/or industry?

A tough question when reflecting on the single greatest improvement. My personal opinion is the fact that the team is ‘unified’. This single improvement has resulted in stronger role modelling to the staff and negated any divisive elements that were occurring previously.

There has been a genuine commitment to the improvement of relationships in such a process to achieve unity and a better understanding of the impact our behaviours have on the team at large.

What have you found out about yourself throughout this program?

I have found that there are certainly things that others see that I cannot for one reason or another. The ability to have people present areas for improvement while challenging can be extremely rewarding.

On occasions much of what you hear, you may not specifically think is reality but that is your reality.

If the team commits to the process and is genuine in the appraisal you have the capacity to learn more about yourself. Overall I have learned how to engage with the team on a more productive level in order to gain assistance I need in critical areas.

In a word or sentence, describe your experience with Leading Teams.

Empowering and Energising.

What would have been the impact had you not addressed the issues with your team?

I believe we would have continued to operate in a dysfunctional manner and blamed everyone but ourselves for inconsistency in behaviours throughout the greater workforce.

We would not have achieved as much as we have over this 12 months as we would have been less open, less engaging and less inclined to challenge the team for more in a time where accountability and support to greater objectives was critical.

The support has changed us immensely and the entire workforce.

Jim Plunkett

Jim Plunkett

Jim is a former Facilitator. He joined Leading Teams in 2001 and left in 2016.