Meet Aaron Woods. He’s an NRL player. Big bloke, long hair, slightly girly hairband. Not that we told him that.
Smart guy, Aaron Woods. Talks fast. Really, really, really, really fast. Has plenty to say and says it well.
Tough, too. If Aaron Woods ran into a brick wall, we’d probably put our money on the wall crumbling first.
But to use a sporting cliché, Woods inspires with deeds more than words. At 24, he has just been named captain of the Wests Tigers. A fixture in the front row of the NSW State of Origin and Australian Test teams, Woods is exactly the kind of tough, inspirational character that other players rally around.
Recently, Woods just took his best mate and senior colleague’s job. That man is Robbie Farah, who captained the Tigers the last 7 seasons. Long story short, there were contract issues with Farah (and that’s putting it mildly), so Woods stepped in during the off-season.
Which got us thinking.
We bet some of you are overtaking older colleagues in your workplace. Or perhaps a younger colleague has leapfrogged you on the career ladder. Either way, we thought the following section of our recent chat with Woods at the NRL season launch might help you deal with that situation.
This guy really does have an excellent (and very large) head on his (even larger) shoulders.
Robbie Farah would have shown you the ropes when you started playing first grade. What’s it like being his boss now?
“Nah, I don’t call myself anyone’s boss, mate.”
There have been no awkward moments between you and Robbie?
“Never, he’s one of my best mates. We tell each other what we think whether it’s ‘you dress like shit’ or ‘you’re not preparing well for a game’. So nah mate, never an awkward moment between Robbie and myself.”
Do you think Robbie might be giving you a bit of cheek still even though you’re in charge now?
“Mate, he gets up me every day ‘cos I don’t have much of a style unlike the other boys. I just wear Nike shirts and shorts. Robbie actually told the coach he wants me to be captain because we've got that respect. Since day dot, I've trained my arse off to earn Robbie’s respect because he’s a pretty tough marker. But in saying that, we’re really honest with each other. When we play on the field, there’s no hiding.
Generally speaking, what does leadership mean to you?
“I think being a leader is not about telling people what to do. It’s about guiding them and helping them do better.”
Nice. And you do that by setting an example?
“Yeah, that’s something I always try to do as part of my game, whether it’s preparing well or eating well or doing the right things to get your body in shape or even just looking after your body rehab-wise with massages and all that. If I can do all those little things, that’s just showing the players that I'm looking after myself and preparing the best way I can for the game.”
Theoretical scenario. You’re down 20-0 at half-time. Are you going to be the sort of captain who delivers an angry spray or a motivational speech?
“I’ll start off angry, then turn to motivational. I think you lose some people when you just go spray, spray, spray ‘cos they just switch off. So you spray the main points you’re worried about, then motivate the boys to get out there and rip and tear for the second half.”
Flipside. You’re up 20-0. How do you keep the players’ minds on the job?
“I reckon that’s a tougher task to be honest with you. I just think we go in there and say it’s nil-all, we've got to keep working on the things we practised during the week. Don’t take your foot off the throttle.”
What would you say to people out there who've just seen a younger colleague leapfrog them and become the boss?
“I’d say there will always be sour grapes, but at the end of the day, that person [who’s the new boss] has worked their arse off to get there so I don’t see why they wouldn't be selected. It would be a hard one if two people were both going for the same job and the person with higher qualifications missed out because they were going for someone new. But you've got to build a bridge and get over it because otherwise you’re still going to be at work but things won’t work out so well.”
Good advice. You captained the team when Robbie was out a few times last year. But you haven’t exactly had a win yet, have you?
“No, I've only captained three games [on an interim basis in season 2015]. I can’t wait to have a win and have a beer with the boys after the game.”
Hope it happens this weekend Aaron, thanks.
The Wests Tigers play the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday night at 5:30pm at Campbelltown Stadium.