Leadership On and Off the Field - A Conversation with Tim Cutler

While in Hong Kong recently I had the opportunity to have a chat with Tim Cutler, CEO of the Hong Kong Cricket Association to discuss leadership and the role of leaders in sport and business.

As a former Australian Netball representative, former consultant to the Malaysian Netball Leadership team, and current Business and Sports Coach, I’ve always seen the connection between leadership in business and sport. But it was interesting nevertheless to hear another perspective on the subject.


You can listen in to the chat by clicking on the link here or you may choose to read my highlights provided below (or do both). I hope you enjoy.

​Key commonalities among sports and business leadership as stated by Tim Culter are:

  • The ability to manage different personalities in different situations, especially when under pressure.
  • Humility
  • Fortitude
  • An understanding of the people around you
  • To have courage in your own convictions and decisions
  • To be an excellent communicator
  • To ensure team members have clearly defined roles and responsibilities

Tim expands on this, saying that sometimes the need to make an unpopular decision can leave the leader in a position of feeling alone. This is challenging if you have a tendency to care deeply about what others think, or even have a need to be liked by everyone.

This is especially so where team camaraderie has developed into friendships and decisions need to be made that may disappoint others. It takes courage to put these influences aside and make the right decisions based on the needs of the team or organisation.

With our backgrounds in both amateur and professional sport, we both agreed that the sports environment is good preparation for business leadership, not just through the on-field activities but off-field as well. These can range from being an active participant in the workings of your local club to having to negotiate with agents, liaise with the media or interact with the public.

Both the sports and business environments require discipline, an understanding of psychology, skill development and knowing how to bring the best out in people. This includes influencing team members to work harmoniously together and to share in the successes and failures, while being able to learn from mistakes as well.

On matters of conflict, Tim makes the point that conflict is often resolved when we view things from another perspective. The key to seeing the other perspective is to stop and listen with no agenda or fixed view of who or what is right.

Through listening there is also an opportunity to uncover the underlying cause of the conflict. The leader’s role is to understand the cues and personality types of the people involved to decipher what else might be going on behind the actual issue that’s being discussed.

The final quality that Tim looks for in a leader, on and off the field, is a sense of humour, especially in the context of being able to laugh at one’s self. Though the stakes are often high in business or sport, a humorous outlook can lighten the load and change the whole conversation.

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