THE WOMAN leading Swimming Australia through its culture crisis, Dr Pippa Grange, has started working at Richmond with a charter to instil premiership-winning characteristics in the success-starved football club.
A doctor of applied psychology, Grange is expected to sit in Damien Hardwick's coach's box on match days next season. She will mentor the club's executive management team and the Tigers' player leadership group headed by new 22-year-old captain Trent Cotchin.
Richmond's openness to admitting an outsider into the club's sanctum - albeit one who knows the AFL landscape intimately - comes after Grange spent two years working with Geelong. When Chris Scott, in 2011, claimed a flag in his debut season as senior coach, Grange was a weekly fixture in the box on match days.
Employed by St Kilda as it grappled with the so-called ''St Kilda schoolgirl'' scandal, Grange also assisted that club with the appointment of a new coach last year after Ross Lyon's sensational defection.
Despite her experience in guiding organisations through turmoil, Grange's brief at Richmond, according to the club's chief executive, Brendon Gale, is about ''developing the capabilities of our people and their leadership capabilities. That will make us better listeners, better communicators, and improve our ability to communicate with each other.''
CEO of the AFL Players Association before he returned to the club where he played 244 games, Gale - a young boss at 44 and entering his fourth season in the role - employed Grange at the AFLPA. Her last title at the players' union before she started her own business was ''manager - psychology, people and culture''.
''We have a young list, we have extremely young leaders, we've got young coaches, we've got a young senior coach, we've got a young head of football, we've got a young CEO. I haven't got all the answers that's for sure,'' Gale, who will himself take advice from Grange, told Fairfax Media. ''I think that in AFL football there's a lot of sameness and there's a lot of vanilla. But I think the one area where we have the ability … to gain a distinct competitive advantage is in our people. People who are open and challenge each other in a supportive environment, that's good. That's what we're aiming for. And I think the organisations who get that right tend to outperform. That's what this is about. I think we've taken some enormous steps on and off the field in the last couple of years, but we've got to get better.
''I'm sure from time to time, Pippa will sit and observe the dynamics in the coach's box between the coaches - how they communicate, and how they deal with different situations - as an independent person, and provide feedback.''