The recent big cricket issue which unsurprisingly these days is not the cricket, was the David Warner Quinton de Kock who said what about whom.

Firstly, I should like to put some context around the incident – not for providing any wriggle room; but more to understand how other situations, for example, the Senior Leadership team of a business, might learn some valuable lessons for their organisation.

Australia was playing South Africa in a Test match. So everything and everyone is on show to the world across all forms of media including CCTV, and a hometown public which is strongly biased in their loyal support of the Proteas.

International sport is fiercely competitive. Each individual is representing themselves, their team, their country, their reputations, their history, their respective Cricket Boards, their sponsors, their family.

No matter who the individual how calm and composed they may seem externally, this athlete is vulnerable at any moment – emotions good and bad are stretched, fragile, but always present.

Sport is simply about winning and losing, nothing else. How can one team exploit weaknesses in their opposition while imposing their strengths at the same time?

The higher the level of sport, the higher the stakes.

The international sports arena is a gladiatorial cauldron.

So to David Warner’s explosion as the players ascend stairs to their respective dressing rooms.

Warner has past history of being an overly aggressive, ‘ugly’ Australian cricketer both on and off the field – sometimes nicknamed ‘the bull’ as we understand. He openly admits he gives as much as he takes, “…live by the sword, die by the sword…”

He is now a senior player within this team. He just recently captained the T20 team and has aspirations of doing Steve Smith’s role when that becomes vacant.

In a moment of vulnerability, Warner made the choice to forget who he was and display actions and behaviours that a professional sportsperson, let alone a formal leader of an international sports team that were totally wrong.

Warner’s actions have thrown the whole unit into Red Alert, at best thrown an unexpected, unnecessary and potentially destabilising issue into the Australian team during the course of a match, and a series.

There is no doubt the Australian unit would have been fractured and fragmented by the incident.

With the loss of the Test, and a cooling off period, the team may be able to strategically use it as a means to pull the team closer as they ‘battle the odds on foreign soil’.

Whether that occurs or not and Australia win the Test series, there is much to learn from this incident, and hopefully much more that we will learn from Australian team management once the series is concluded.

If this was happening in your business, apart from the different context that would exist compared with international sport, here are some important questions to address –

  • If you have a match winner, a game changer in your team, but he or she is constantly doing his or her role without care for the expected behaviour codes of your industry or the values of your business, do you keep them in your employ?
  • As CEO or a Senior Leadership Team of the business, do you live without fail the values of your business? And if you do not, are you ‘called’ on these misdemeanors? And what are the consequences?
  • If the game changer steps beyond the boundaries of care for fellow staff, the values of the business because it is all about them, do you have a robust culture that allows peers to manage this individual?

So while David Warner is the perpetrator of actions and behaviours that have brought the game into disrepute, is he the only villain?

What about de Kock?

And more importantly, what about the team cultures, and the management of these – what role does that have to play in the ugly scenes that have been reported to date?

Does your business allow its game changers, its star performers special treatment to secure immediate results at the expense of a robust team culture which will secure longer term sustainability and success?


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