Project Description

Straight Talk – Wayne Pearce

Wayne Pearce OAM is recognised as one of Rugby League’s greats, a leader and an innovator who has always been dedicated to health and fitness that changed the way professional league players prepared and trained. With over 200 first grade NRL games, Wayne was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to Rugby League in 1988. He naturally transitioned into rugby league coaching, becoming the only person to record a series sweep against Queensland as both a State of Origin player and coach.

Post football, Wayne’s degree in psychology and commitment to team environments saw him divert his passions into a successful corporate career, developing teams within organisations through ‘Wayne Pearce Advantage’.

Mark sits down with Wayne to discuss how his professional rugby league days influenced his business, how he helps people become leaders and not just managers, Wayne’s influence on the Australian Rugby League commission and how Wayne was instrumental in assembling and leading the NRL’s ‘Project Apollo’ team. 

Wayne said, “For 20 years I’ve been speaking about how you create great teams, how you lead. Project Apollo was an opportunity for me to not only apply that philosophy and see if it works, but show how it works and prove it to myself.”

What makes great leaders

Having been one of Rugby Leagues great leaders both on and off the field, Wayne explains that great coaches and leaders are more than just micromanagers.

“I believe the really good coaches and the really good leaders are those leaders that can make people better than what they think they are.”

“That’s not pushing them, it’s actually allowing them to believe they’re better than what they think they are.”

“Coaching is not about having an appraisal once a year. Coaching is in the moment interaction with what is working and what’s not working. Coaching is not just having a discussion about what not’s working, it’s letting people know what is working so they know what you want as a leader.”

When it comes to leading in business, Wayne says there are two parts to being a boss: management and leadership.

“The management stuff is about getting results in the here and now. It’s about pushing people to get a result. Whereas the leadership stuff is about inspiring, hitting what motivates people, it’s about the big picture and focusing on the future.”

“In business as usual, if you’re the boss, you should be focusing on that leadership space.”

The fundamental philosophy behind Wayne Pearce’s career

“The big thing for me that transformed my life was my father had a heart attack and dropped dead when I was 14.”

After “going off the rails for a bit” Wayne Pearce says a Mentor fortunately set him back on the right track and forced him to set goals in rugby league and in his personal life.

“What I learned as a young kid…my mentor taught me cause and effect: If you do this, there’s going to be an outcome. If you don’t put the work in, you’re not going to get the result.”