Any Given Team bookHow did Leading Teams get to where we are today?

It all started back in 1992 when Ray McLean began a pilot program involving the Central District Football Club in South Australia. The team’s improved performance as a result of the program created some interest among the club’s corporate partners who were keen to see what the team building and culture change programs could achieve in their organisations. Ray then re-oriented the program framework to address the various corporate objectives and was able to successfully apply the principles of the model in a business environment.

As these programs developed throughout 1993, and the athletes we were working with improved their leadership and teamwork skills, one thing led to another and the athletes ’stepped up to the plate’ and began running the programs themselves. From this humble beginning Leading Teams was born, creating a foundation for a business whose sole purpose would be focused on aligning teams and developing leaders.

And so it was, on Friday 30th November 2012, 80 people gathered at the Olympic Room of the MCG to celebrate and reflect on 20 years of Leading Teams.

David Parkin (OAM; former Australian rules footballer and four-time premiership coach) spoke passionately about the influence Ray and the Leading Teams model has had on leadership in Australia. According to David, Ray transformed his coaching and leadership style.

A highlight from David’s wonderful speech was this tribute to Ray, “The process you’ve put into place in this country in sport particularly…what you’ve put in place alluded to these angry, autocratic dictatorial people like me that have been living that life in a leadership vacuum, which most people in this country do whether in politics or in religion, or education or business or in sport, you can actually get away with this very narrow view that this is the way we should work with people as leaders to get the best out of them. Ray McLean has possibly done more for leadership in its broadest terms in this country than any other one person that I know of male and female, over my 70 years in existence.”

Leading Teams has been a pioneer in our field, and Ray a trailblazer whose passion and absolute belief in the results teams could achieve by implementing the Leading Teams program was absolute.

A great example of this was when Ray wrote to St Kilda FC in 1994 to offer them a helping hand. As Stan Alves outlined in his speech at the 20 Year Celebration, he had completed one season as coach and was struggling with creating a winning culture with the players. Stan got Ray on board to work with the club, where he was able to turn around the attitude of the young players and bridge the divide within the playing group.

We’re pleased to share this quote from Stan’s moving and inspirational speech, “The great thing about this story is a never ending story. I have people from other clubs come to me and ask what’s happening in that club. Why? …and I say undeniably, Ray McLean… It’s ok to come in and be good once. You’ve stood the test of time…and crossed over into all different sports and into business and into life. It’s absolutely sensational. It’s absolutely superb….Ray McLean thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

A more recent success story for Leading Teams in the corporate world is M&C Saatchi, the global advertising agency. Tom Dery, CEO, spoke at the 20 Year Celebration, sharing with us the challenges faced by the highly successful agency. M&C Saatchi acknowledged that key to their success was the business culture, and so they engaged Leading Teams to work with them and show them how they could go about maintaining that culture to ensure the long-term future success of the business.

The wonderfully entertaining speech from Tom included this quote, “Obviously the first meeting you have with Ray you know it’s true and fair dinkum. I had to convince my partner who is old-fashioned. We’ve been through some tough times in the GFC and we’ve actually come out of it better than we went in. The team pulled together. A lot of that is to do with what Ray has done.”

Pulling teams together, getting the very best out of leaders – this is all in a day’s work for Ray and Leading Teams, where a clear goal is to help leaders and teams have genuine conversations, even when they might be hard conversations.

Gary Fletcher of the North Ballarat FC, shared a great example of this when he spoke about a pivotal moment in the 1995/96 season where a few of the players had been out drinking all day before a game. Ray facilitated a session to address the issue and the feedback from the players was that they appreciated being talked to and not being ‘glared at’.

Fast forward to today where Leading Teams now has twelve full-time staff members, nine of whom are facilitating full-time in the sporting and corporate world.

The Leading Teams model continues to grow from strength to strength as the teams we work with reach even greater heights than they ever imagined. We should know, we continue to develop our model and use it within our own organisation.


Ray McLean

Ray McLean

Ray founded Leading Teams in 1992 after working as a leadership officer with the Air Force. He has published two books, ‘Any Given Team’ and ‘Team Work’. Ray is based in Geelong.
Learn more about Ray.