Leadership Lessons From a League Legend

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Chris Dale shares his thoughts on leadership and the parallels between Rugby League and construction bid teams following on from a session with league legend Mal Meninga


One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of being a specialist is integrating with teams, especially teams who are involved in high-pressure situations and are in the process of forming.

I’m embedded within the bid team of a rail joint venture comprising multiple partners, stakeholders and professionals. With team members drawn from across our industry and areas of expertise, I am experiencing first hand the stages of team development.

Thanks to SEE Civil, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a team event focused on leadership, featuring a keynote from Australian and Queensland legend, and current Head of Performance and Culture at Gold Coast Titans, Mal Meninga.

It’s not often you get the chance to hear from a professional who is known for the culture and leadership that he brings to the teams he has been part of, led as a player and mentored as a coach.

While the links between Rugby League and bidding for construction work may not be immediately evident, the philosophies outlined by Mal were straight to the point and the anecdotes from his career provided instant parallels to the day-to-day environment I am involved in.

In Mal’s opinion, the key aspects of team development are ensuring everyone knows their role, understands the team’s goal and trusts and respects the abilities of their teammates.

If the halfback and five-eighth can’t communicate and don’t know their role then a team cannot attack and control the football. If the forwards don’t know their attacking patterns, the ball will not move upfield and if players can’t trust each other’s defence, then holes quickly appear that the opposition can exploit.

In a bid team that draws in experts from multiple disciplines and organisations, the parallels are the same. Anyone who has worked on a tender knows the pressure people are under to get in, get up to speed and put together a winning submission. When you add in the timescales, and what is at stake for people’s roles and futures, it’s not quite the State of Origin, but it is right up there.

In every successful submission that I have been involved in, the one thing that has ensured great work is everyone knowing their role and executing their part to perfection.

Ultimately leadership and the skills associated with developing a high-performance culture are transferable across industries and disciplines and to be able to take part in a relaxed session and hear from someone with such an amazing track record was a great privilege.

As the project progresses, we will keep you up to date in the latest news via our LinkedIn page and website.

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