Brenton Sanderson ex Adelaide Crows AFL Coach made this self observation - possibly the most powerful comment I have ever read regarding leadership

On reflection, I made a number of errors at Adelaide, which ultimately cost me my job. It can happen very quickly if not properly identified and adjusted.

In 2012 we took the Crows from a seven-win season and 14th on the ladder to 17 wins and a heartbreaking pre­liminary final loss to even­tual ­premier Hawthorn the next year.

Brenton Sanderson.

Two seasons later I was sacked after missing the finals by just one win, two years in succession. These are some of the mistakes I made.

1. I didn’t accept a variety of personalities within my staff and couldn’t learn how to get the best out of individuals by promoting two-way open communication. I didn’t listen as much as I should have. I did too much "telling”.

2. Crisis management. A coach must be able to pull a team together and ­allocate specific roles rather than ­attempt to control the situation. The harder it got, the more I tried to do more.

3. You have to learn how to have and deliver the hard conversations. Most importantly, learn how to do this consistently. There is a time to be blunt and clear, but you must always follow it up, preferably within the next 24 hours, and never use sarcasm as a means to get a message across.

4. I was always promoting myself as an "open door ­manager”, but this wasn’t consistent. In challenging times, I shut key people out.

5. Time management. I felt I was always time poor, but it was more likely I wasn’t organised to prioritise and delegate. I found it hard to say no to external obligations too, which I understand is part of the role, but I was reluctant to admit when I was struggling emotionally and physically. The senior coach must not allow himself to burn out.

6. I talked openly too often about finding and identifying the "right people” for certain roles within the club, which I know left certain staff feeling disillusioned.

7. I never really identified a key mentor I could trust to bounce ideas off and talk to when I needed help. When I lost Dean Bailey, I lost an ­important mentor.

8. I didn’t treat my players equally. I spent more time with those executing their roles ­effectively, while neglecting those who needed me most.


Players typically are hard to find when they know they are out of form or on the fringe, so I needed to chase them harder and make this a priority.

There are always 10 to 12 players who are going to play each week, then there are 10 to 12 players who know they aren’t going to play anytime soon.

It’s the 20 players in-­between, who are in and out of the side regularly that you need to spend most time on and with.