Leadership in Sports is interesting to watch and incredibly volatile. If your team is doing well, people love the captain and believe he/she must be doing a great job. In contrast when your team is losing, people are looking to blame and the blame generally falls fair and square on the leaders shoulders! But is this fair? Well, it’s not really a question of fair but you’ve got to take the good with the bad when you’re in the spotlight. It all comes with the responsibility of leadership.
Let’s use the example of The Australian Cricket Team at this point in time. Ricky Ponting has been the leader for many years and is a celebrated cricketer. He was part of the ‘Super Team’. The Australian team in the past, have been super successful and have had many very talented individuals within the team. The Waugh Brothers, Gilchrest, Warne, McGrath, Lee and the list goes on. It’s a totally different story now!
Poor Ricky is leading the team in totally different circumstances. The majority of the ‘super talent’ has retired from cricket. Particularly in this Ashes Series against England, Australia are the easy beats. Being beaten is not easy, it’s tough and it hurts. It damages morale of a team and the supporters can turn rather feral. The media are harsh in their criticism and there is no escape for the high profile sportsman. So my question is, is the demise of the team because of lack of leadership?
I’m not sure we will ever get a consensus on the question. Does Ricky Ponting demonstrate good leadership skills? I think in the majority yes. I mean if you have a look at his win/loss ratio, he is well ahead. So is he a good leader in good times with strong talent behind him? Does he struggle to inspire and motivate a team that do not include superstars? One thing he does have on his side is he has the runs on the board (pardon the pun), he is a respected cricketer and has the respect of the majority of the public. People like to follow someone who is successful. That is a fact. Noone wants to follow a dud now do they?
Enter Michael Clarke into the mix. He’s been waiting in the wings for a chance to lead and now with Ricky injured, he’s got it. A pretty boy, a model who gets his biceps and six pack out at any opportunity who lives a celebrity life style. Has he got what it takes to be a leader? Jury is out for me. As I said, people like to be lead by someone who is successful and inspiring and who can find just that little bit more in themselves and others. Does Clarke have the credibility that the previous captains have had? No! We certainly know about his love life, who he models for, where he lives and what car he drives but what does the guy stand for? Does he have the courage and conviction to lead a team of people to success? Can he win over the Australian public? This depends on a couple of factors:
- That he concentrate on his profession as a priority
- He improves his performance
- He decides what he stands for and what he doesn’t and has the conviction to stand behind that
- He demonstrates to those watching and interested, through his actions, that he has what it takes to lead a team back to success and that he is a suitable successor for the captaincy role
- He proves over and over again that he is a leader in the true sense of the word. Not just when he’s in the spotlight.
This is what I would say to any wanting to be leader. And last but certainly not least, he needs courage. The courage to lead in testing times and be true to yourself rather than giving into frustration and worry is a true test of a leader. Courage is leadership. Leadership is courage.