Will is a vastly experienced people-leader who served the nation for over three decades in the Navy and was the Captain of two warships and a training base. He has very well developed talents in:
A few years ago, after 34 years of service, I left the Navy. During my service I became a student of leadership, not necessarily in a formal sense, but in a more informal, observational sense. If you’re looking around with intent, almost everything is a leadership lesson. The Navy, like so many organisations, relies on the performance of teams, and teams of teams. With the exclusion of periods locked away in a classroom learning something new, you are either a team member or a team leader – it’s as simple as that.
I became fascinated by the way teams prepare for and execute their roles. Why is that some do so much better than others? Is it a combination of circumstance, luck and culture or is it purely the result of the effectiveness and impact of the leader? It is this fascination that led me to certify as a coach and it’s why I now coach individual leaders and teams. I firmly believe that if everyone in a team is genuinely inspired and motivated to perform for each other, the productivity is extraordinary. From experience, I know this is a by-product of excellent leadership and a constructive culture.
I’ve come to learn that there are a myriad of blockages and undercurrents that can obstruct effective team performance. If potential equals performance minus interference (P=P-i) then in order to get a team to reach its potential, I need to get busy helping that team reduce, as far as possible, the interference levels.
My top Gallup strength is Relator® which, when coupled with a personal mantra ‘lead the people, manage the process’ and with a focus on strong authentic relationships, has helped me become a natural and successful coach. Helping others reach their potential gives me enormous satisfaction and I do it in an innately calm and genuine manner. Through an ability to ask great questions and listen well I find that building strong rapport in my coaching relationships is straightforward and my coaching counterparts tell me that they appreciate my commitment of time and energy to their growth.
In 2010 I completed the High Performance Leadership Program at Oxford University’s Said Business School and more recently the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centred Executive and Team Coaching Certification. I now combine the knowledge gained with my Navy and coaching experience to coach clients through the complexities of contemporary leadership. I’ve coached teams in the maritime sustainment industry and in several warships and individuals across many sectors and hierarchical levels in organisations including CBA, AMP, Origin Energy, NSW Government Departments of Health and Transport.
During my Navy time I was twice selected to the privileged and challenging appointment of Ship Captain. This is when one, through often brutal experience, simultaneously learns and fails. During my first stint as a Captain I was pretty green and I soon learnt the lesson about familiarity versus family. I wanted my ship’s company to feel like they were a family, but I overstepped on familiarity and briefly lost my way. After a short period of self-reflection and correction, I started each day reading a note I’d stuck to my mirror saying, “Remember Captain – this is not a popularity competition”. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was coaching myself! By the time of my second Command I was a significantly more self-aware man and with all the lessons and experience gained in the years prior, was able to successfully lead my team of 238 souls on a period of active service to the Middle East, bringing them all home safely with the mission achieved.
In 2017 my partner Helen made the courageous but perfectly logical decision to join me in Waterline Leadership as she had achieved everything she wanted in the world of luxury goods and was looking for a new challenge. It's extraordinary how much more value we deliver as a pair, particularly when coaching teams. It is definitely more than twice the value and this is reflected in the feedback we get from senior teams that have been coached and facilitated by us.
I now have the privilege of serving on the board of the Sir David Martin Foundation, which is a 30-year old family foundation, established by my father and in his name, to help young people in crisis. The foundation is the major funder of Mission Australia’s Triple Care Farm, a unique, holistic treatment centre which each year gives over 200 vulnerable young Australians, aged 16-24, a safe place to get well and prepare for new opportunities.
The foundation was established in 1990, soon after Dad’s death. It was his concern for young people in crisis that lead to the creation of the Foundation. During his short time as Governor of NSW, he witnessed too many young people caught in the destructive world of drugs, homelessness and abuse. Whenever he met them, he encouraged them to develop their undiscovered potential so they may better their lives.
In a speech to the Australia Day Council of New South Wales, he expressed his concern for the young people of Australia.
“…All those youngsters living away from their homes, in the back streets, the tunnels and the gutters, existing on a diet of drugs, violence and hopelessness. That’s a big mess to clean, but we shouldn’t have let it get so fouled up. Every one of us has to try harder to bring all children up properly and prepare them to inherit Australia from us. These children are our most important assets for Australia’s future, yet we are carelessly squandering those assets….”