Where is the Power Play?


Recently, like many Australian Men and Women, I have lamented the performances of our cricket team. Cricket is such an incredible game. For a bowler, even the worst performance can be redeemed in the very next ball. For a Batsman, it can be a brutal and unforgiving sport.

My mind harkens back to Steve Waugh’s incredible 1995 series against the West Indies in the Caribbean. He left Australia with a major cloud over his head as the newspapers openly discussed his apparent weakness against short pitched bowling. He went on to make several 100’s and a 200, which included the famous mid-wicket stoush with Curtly Ambrose.

I ask myself. What was it that made Steve Waugh so deeply determined to not let the West Indies get his wicket. Surely that bowling attack as good as, or even better than, the current England attack. And the crowds were infinitely more hostile.

Then I got to thinking. There is a flow of power in every endeavour in life. Great leaders understand this power. Others do not.

When an organisation opens for business, the owners put their own resources into setting up a workplace and a set of products and services. They then employ people to take those products and services to the market place. By giving those people a chance to work and make a living, and by resourcing them with good products and services and the means to sell and deliver them to the market, the business owners are flowing power to their employees.

The employees, in return, flow the power back by bringing in income and by creating happy customers who support the growth of the business. A business will be most successful when this flow of power is optimised. The power flows freely up and down the line; and the power grows.

The power can be blocked when an employee decides that they are more important than the business, or when the employer cuts resources in an effort to make more profit without increasing sales. This power flow is very delicate and should be respected and preserved.

A national sports team is being flowed power by their nation and by their sports’ governing body. To be selected to represent your country and to wear the official colours of the country is a huge honour. The power flowed to an individual can lead to fame, glory and, in the modern day, great wealth. The athlete flows the power back by representing their country with honour, integrity, tenacity and a strong competitive spirit. They flow the power back by bringing pride and joy to their supporters and countrymen.

As we saw during the Bradman years, success on the sporting field can lift the mood of a nation trapped in economic depression. Such is the importance of sport.

So what is happening to Australian Cricket? What happened to our Olympians in London? The answer, when you look at it in terms of power flow is rather obvious and simple. One of the regular members of all of these teams had stepped aside and was no longer involved. Who was it you might ask? John Howard.

Now, before you think I have lost my marbles, hear me out. I am not interested in Party Politics. I am not that interested in Politics at all for that matter. But John Howard had a quality that I never really understood until very recently. He knew how to lead.

When he was Prime Minister, every time the Australian Cricket Team stepped onto the field, he was right there. He spoke up for the rest of the country. When he wished them well, he quietly reminded them that they were carrying the hope of the nation on their shoulders. They knew that it was more than just a game of cricket. They knew, they could not fail.

So, when Steve Waugh left for the West Indies, his personal safety became less important than his vital role as a force of inspiration for his country. This tour was no longer just a game of cricket. It was about the uplifting of an entire nation.

When our current team walk out onto the field, I cannot feel that quality in them at all. I do not blame them one bit. I doubt the cricket administrators get it. And unfortunately, our Politicians, locked in a childish squabble that is dragging the country to its knees, just do not get it either.

So who is going to step up and put an arm around Shane Watson’s shoulder and quietly say, “Mate, we cannot afford for you to give your wicket away cheaply. The entire country is depending on you to step up and show the world what we are made of. This is your watch mate. We are right behind you.”

I am sure if John Howard was still Prime Minister, those words would already have been spoken and Australia would, at least, be one up in the series.

How is the Power flowing in your organisation?

Contact me to find out about how you might improve things a little and get your people more aligned with the direction you seek to travel.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Marcellin Business Network.

Prue O'ShannessyComment