NEW: Michael Phillips

There is a correlation between team sport and how Gen-Y works – they don’t care who they work with, who the competition is; they just want to get out there, head on!

Leadership tips for Gen-Y? Think footy

Michael Phillips

Winter must be close. Everyone in the office is sneezing, knitwear and jackets are hitting the department store racks and AFL football is starting again.

With the ever-increasing professionalism (give or take your odd Ben Cousins or Wayne Carey incident) of modern football, there is often some valuable learnings we can take from the sporting establishment to the business environment. I read with interest last weekend, Matthew Knights, the coach of AFL club Essendon, explaining the roaring win by his team of youngsters solely on the drive and determination of “youth”.

His actual words were something along the lines of “that is the thing with young people, or Gen-Y, they don’t care who they are playing, they just want to get out there and play”. It’s this energetic attitude that he believes helps his team of Gen-Ys bond as one and not only enjoy each game, but not fear their opponents.

Now while it is only pre-season, this brings up a very valuable point that so aptly defines the mindset of a Gen-Y. They are not interested in who they work with, who their competitors are or how tough their role is, they just want to role the sleeves up and tackle their objectives head on.

The glue that holds all this together is leadership. A strong leader who understands how to manage this sort of youthful enthusiasm can continue to drive the team and get the best out of them. Without a valuable leader, the team will more than likely head off in tangents and miss the main focus.

The coach of the Essendon Football Club appears to “get this”, and rather than assert authority and hold his “mosquito fleet” back, he is driving the ship at full speed. Sure, they will have ups and downs, but I’m very confident they will all learn plenty and have a great time while they do it.

Unfortunately in business we don’t have “draft picks” and “scouts” touring the country looking for the latest talent (or do we?), but we do have the ability to adapt the team model. Find a great leader, recruit a team of hard working, energetic and unselfish people who all have complementing skills, and then push them every day.


Michael Phillips is a 29-year old CPA managing a business full of Gen-Ys. He’s the Commercial Manager of Cremorne Group which wholesales and retail mens and womens apparel, including the Tommy Hilfiger, Blazer and Perri Cutten brands. He offers his experience as a pioneering Gen-Y managing Gen-Ys, covering issues such as how to recruit, retain and get the most out of Gen-Y – the notoriously difficult younger generation of employees aged 15 to 30.


For more Manageing Gen-Y blogs, click here.



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