The Coaching Room’s co-founder, Jay Hedley, recently spoke to us about the success of the Fiji Rugby Sevens team at the Tokyo Olympics. He helped the coaching staff get the best out of themselves and the team, which went on to defend their gold medal against the All Blacks Sevens. It’s not just sport where The Coaching Room excels…
Jay Hedley, co-founder of The Coaching Room, started his corporate career in the fierce mobile phone sales arena of the mid 1990’s and quickly became National Sales Director of Cellular One, which was then bought by AAPT before it was taken over by Telecom NZ. (Change management 101 in action!)
He then started his coaching journey when, as Head of Sales Training and Coaching, Jay felt an immediate affinity with some of the programs implemented. These included leadership development programs using the principles of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Neuro Semantics (cognitive behavioural psychology). Having been exposed to NLP it resonated with Jay and he undertook NLP courses and training to hone his coaching craft.
It was not long until he (and business partner Joseph Scott) established The Coaching Room. The Coaching Room is a personal and professional development company whose expertise is in leadership development, coaching and training. The various programs run by The Coaching Room aim to help corporate leaders to unleash their full potential in personal growth, professional development, leadership and teamwork.
As previously mentioned, sporting teams are a favourite group to work with. It’s quite an impressive list of stars that Jay has helped, including Red Bull F1 Racing’s strength and conditioning coaches for drivers Max Verstappen and Aussie race driver Daniel Ricciardo. He has also worked with the Wallabies, Waratahs and currently with Firebirds Netball. Without a doubt the most satisfying (and testing) sporting group Jay has worked with was the Fijian National Rugby Sevens team. Not only was the usual team dynamics at play but dealing with isolation from families caused by lockdowns had a severe impact on the playing group in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympics in August 2021.
Jay takes up the story for us…
I’d been working with head coach Gareth Baber for three and a half years. We had regular weekly catch ups. The secret sauce was to make sure Gareth’s thinking was straight and without interference from all the external factors affecting the team. We had to get him to work through all the stuff that was coming up for him. Gareth’s role was not an easy one. We spent a lot of time crafting his messaging and getting the communications platforms right.
Gareth and his assistant coaches came and did the NLP training with The Coaching Room. They did the Master Practitioner Course and the Enneagram (personality) courses. The coaches did a lot of training, developing themselves and devising effective ways to communicate very simple strategies. This would enable the team members to grow and to apply meaning to their performance. Bringing consistency to the team’s performance was critical.
The simple strategies were high performance strength and conditioning, high performance technical and tactical skills, and to marry it with high performance mental skills. Basically, to unleash and unlock the Fijian way (talent) and give it structure and consistency. Devising it was one thing but communicating it was where it could all come undone.
Brad Harris (assistant coach) communicated the required structure effectively to the players. Gareth delivered the meaning. This was to make sense of why the players had to bring structure into the previously unstructured Fijian way of playing rugby. Simple strategies were matched by very purposeful practice. They were playing actual game scenarios in practice, at a very intense level. It was purposeful intentional practice.
Embracing the Fijian Culture
Understanding and embracing the Fijian culture was paramount to the team’s success. We took their religion and put it front and centre. We linked metaphors that likened the work they were doing in lockdown training camp to the work of God. Everything they were doing was making sense to them – family, country, Rugby, God. It enabled them to find meaning in everything they were doing. The team was away from family for 12 weeks during the lead up to the Olympics. They needed higher meaning to sustain their goals when homesickness persisted in their daily thoughts. If winning the gold was going to count, we had to move to sacred and vital levels of meaning beyond the level of winning or losing. It was our vision to make them grow into being better people. We didn’t tell them. It happened as a by-product of the hard work and the purpose we instilled into them during that period.
Coaching In Business?
In business it’s first and foremost having people connect to their purpose.
Next, it’s about waking them up and them growing into their potential. We coach people to stop simply managing the systems, reports, numbers and start developing their people to wake-up and grow-up to their potential in the organisation.
It is a leader’s job to do that on behalf of the organisation. It should be how an organisation organically develops. Leadership isn’t management. Leadership is the intentional evolution of your people. We wake people up and ‘grow them up’ to become leaders that people want to follow.
Sometimes that’s helping them craft and create a vision and translate that vision for every level of the organisation. Some of it is helping them craft their message and enabling them to communicate that effectively. We help shift their attitude and mindset they may be holding onto, consciously or subconsciously. It could be removing the fear of failure, the fear of the past, that people will see them wanting or ‘imposter syndrome’.
The Coaching Room’s Goals
We are about helping people wake up to their potential, to get beyond their personality structure and the shit that holds them back. To get beyond their attachment to their identity structures. Making them realise how that can play out and create false needs. Leaders must grow up and grow into their potential. They must take defined steps to the next level of their maturity and continue that process to unlock the things that hold them back. People need to clean up the stuff from their past that is getting in the way of their potential and then to show up. Showing up is the external. Good leaders genuinely show up in this world and make a difference. We are here to help people to wake-up, grow-up, clean-up and show-up.
How does BridgePoint Group help The Coaching Room?
Even coaches need coaches at times. The Coaching Room benefits greatly from the guidance and technical detail they provide. They are our confidants when it comes to everything financial. We have a very close, intertwined partnership. They are our accounts team and our personal and professional accountants. They govern the financial growth and wellbeing of this organisation. We work at our best without having to worry about the business financials, which is fantastic. If something goes wrong BridgePoint Group fixes it. They also give us sound, high-quality advice, where and when we need it. They are there for us. BridgePoint Group as an outsource partner, is the best partner we have.