In conversation with Justin Langer

November 13, 2019

Leading through Courage

Last week, to launch The Australia Project, we hosted what was an incredibly inspiring afternoon with the coach of the Australian national men’s cricket team Justin Langer.

Over 200 clients and partners joined us at The Wheeler Centre in Melbourne as we discussed a key theme for brands as we head into 2020 – leading through courage - and how brands need to lean in and define their own idea of courage.

In an intimate one-on-one conversation with Neale Cotton, co-founder of The Lab, Justin Langer spoke about his journey and experiences of leadership, touching on many of the themes from our Australia Project.

In an enlightening discussion, Justin shared his perspectives on leadership that we can all apply as leaders of people, brands and in our personal lives.

Justin spoke about the importance of having the courage to stand by your core values, but also about having the bravery to be vulnerable and reveal your true self. The courage to have honest conversations, but to always have empathy for others. The courage to learn and grow through flux and ongoing change, and the need to embrace difference to achieve greatness.

“10 stories of courage”

Soon we will be launching a “10 stories of courage” video series, which capture the stirring stories from our conversation with Justin.

Stay tuned. We can’t wait share these!

But for now, here are some highlights of 3 stories that inspired us.

“In Conversation with Justin Langer” highlights

The power of empathy

“If the Prime Minister can make my Pop feel special, then we can all do it.”

After a thoroughly engaging story about Justin’s Pop and how John Howard had recalled his name 6 years post having met him for the first time. Justin talked about the idea of care and making people feel valued.

He cited examples of his relationships with his daughters, as well supporting teammates going through tough times.

A reflection of the increasing desire for empathy in society today (Empathy is Australia’s fastest growing value) and a core ideal that was identified in The Lab’s brand courage model.

Honesty drives trust

“An honest conversation can fix anything.”

It seems so simple, but it is just so true. Justin’s number one edict for leadership and subsequently trust, is all about honesty. He promised his father that he would treat his players with the utmost respect as he took on the mantle of Australian men’s International cricket coach.

“If you don’t have honesty, then you leave people in limbo, they don’t know where they stand.”

Justin recalled his entry into the Australian cricket team, discussing how senior players didn’t really talk or engage with him, they just expected great things out on the field. It was the way things were back then.

In a time of fake news and uncertainty around leadership in society today, this notion of feeling in limbo appears to be reflected in the desire for honesty from Australians today (Honesty is the #1 most important value to Australian today). Without a sense of honesty, brands will not be able to engender trust.

Embrace change and difference

“There are no champions in the world, individually or as a team, that aren’t different.”

Justin talked about the difference between being different and being disruptive. That difference is to be welcomed - new ideas; trying new things. But that people who don’t adhere to the broader values of a team need to be moved on.

“Steve Smith, weirdo. David Warner, weirdo.”

Langer went on to affectionately describe some of his players. Celebrating their unorthodox approaches to their craft, as this is what has defined their success at an elite level.

We need to embrace the idea of change and difference in order to succeed. On the flipside, being normal, not challenging the status quo, is a sure way to being mediocre.


It was an absolute honour to host Justin for the launch of The Australia Project and we want to thank our clients and partners for sharing the afternoon with us. Particularly our friends at Cricket Australia.

Justin is a one of a kind. A true inspiration. And there is no doubt Cricket, and in part our sense of National identity, is in good hands with Justin at the helms.

Watch out for our “10 stories of courage” videos, which will launch shortly, and should you be curious about learning more about The Australia Project, don’t hesitate to get in touch or go to the website;

Paul Labagnara & Neale Cotton