The journey to climb Mount Everest is long and arduous, but the reward when you reach the famous peak is the best view in the world.
That was the analogy given to the Australian Diamonds in the build up to this year’s Commonwealth Games and their quest to win the gold medal by Ray McLean, pictured left, from Leading Teams, who has worked closely with the squad for the past few years.
McLean is the founding director of Leading Teams and his role has been to encourage the athletes to heavily invest in making sure the Diamonds remain the No.1 team in world netball.
McLean, who has worked closely with several AFL clubs and the NSW State-of-Origin rugby league side in developing leadership and cultural change, said the Diamonds were just as driven to succeed and also leave their legacy on the program for future generations to build on.
“When you do a lot of things well, sometimes in sport you get what you deserve and they got what they deserved – a chance to stand at the top of the mountain and enjoy the view,” McLean said of the Diamonds gold medal triumph.
“In my role I’m unbelievably lucky because I get a closer look than most people get and to know the work that’s been done and some of the challenges where we pushed the team to have open sessions, to see it all converted into getting what they wanted to achieve, I was rapt.
“They’ve been a great group to work with.”
McLean said a lot of the changes made to the Diamonds program, such as the way they train and prepare for games, had been driven by the athletes. Importantly, he added, coach Lisa Alexander and her support staff have also bought into the process.
“One of the things the group bought into was that sense of a trademark; having something that we stand for. They all have that sense of responsibility for what they leave behind,” McLean said.
“I don’t think they would be happy if, having won that gold medal, the follow up wasn’t still highly demanding.
“The behaviors that have been set become the benchmark and anyone who comes in has a responsibility to live up to them and when they group is together, they have a responsibility to hold each other to account to those.
“There’s a hardness now about the way they train, they demand that high level, and they are quite open and frank of their reviews of games and training.
“So it’s an all-embracing model. It’s about building a long-term high performance culture. We’ve set a pretty high benchmark.”
The coach said the group “always find Ray inspirational” and have enjoyed working with him.
“Ray has been instrumental in taking the Diamonds on an incredible journey that culminated in a gold medal,” Alexander said.
“But we have not finished yet as we seek to create a great legacy for this team and future teams.”
McLean said he’s also been impressed by the way the Diamonds’ leadership group – voted in by their peers – have embraced their responsibilities.
The retirement of Bianca Chatfield from international netball leaves Laura Geitz and Kimberlee Green in the roles of captain and vice-captain for the upcoming Real Insurance Netball Test Series.
“In their own way, all three leaders have had their challenges along the way,” McLean said. “But they have never stepped away from the point that this is about the team and getting the job done.
“Bianca and Kim would have been disappointed in terms of the game time they got (at the Commonwealth Games), but they never flinched about their responsibilities as leaders to the group.
“That’s the ultimate test of leadership; when things are not going your way, are you still able to put the team’s needs in front of your own? I’ve admired that greatly about them and all three leaders have delivered in what we expected of them.”