Gold medal culture: How to transform your workplace using these five tips from one of Australia's best swimming coaches
Australia’s swimmers are ruling the pool during these Commonwealth Games but, for those of us who prefer to stay dry, what lessons can we learn from their string of world records?
‘Sink or swim’, ‘thrown in at the deep end’, the language of the pool can be a neat analogy for the stresses of the workplace. In both environments creating a winning team is crucial.
ThinkPlace Head of High Performance John Fowlie knows better than anybody what lessons can be transferred from the pool deck to the office floor.
As three-time Commonwealth games coach (2006, 2010, 2014), Fowlie guided Alicia Coutts to her five gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi where she was chosen as the nation’s flag bearer at the closing ceremony. Fowlie was named Australian swimming’s coach of the year in both 2010 and 2012 and worked for 14 years as a senior coach at the Australian Institute of Sport/Swimming Australia National Training Centre.
And then, in 2017, he left that world to join ThinkPlace as Head of High Performance. Why?
“The big thing for me was starting a family and having two young boys,” he says.
“When I read about ThinkPlace I could see the positive impact their work had around the world. I wanted to help make that kind of impact for my kids and their future.”
Fowlie is an expert in developing high performance culture, a concept that informs much of what we do at ThinkPlace. He defines it as:
A team of highly skilled people with a clear sense of purpose, resourced and supported to achieve and deliver exceptionally high quality outcomes that are sustainable over time.
As well as working to ensure our internal culture is one that cares for and supports our people, Fowlie also works with organisations who are keen to instill these concepts in their own workplace.
So what are his five biggest tips for creating a high-performance environment for your team?
Look after your people
Talent is the hardest thing to find. Don’t waste it. As a swimming coach you might only see a generational talent like Alicia Coutts once or twice in your career. That means you need to think long-term and broadly, not narrowly, to keep your people engaged and performing over a long career. Instead of always focusing on the immediate – the next race or next project – you need to think wholistically about the person. Where they are in their life. What they need. If your people need time, give them time. A supportive workplace breeds loyalty and creates the confidence to perform when it matters.