Smith never to return as Australian captain

It is a position that must have a one strike policy!


With the conclusion of the Ashes, and Steve Smith being the standout batsman on both sides, I have been asked whether Steve Smith should regain the captaincy.

My reply is NO. Let me explain my reasoning.

My reasoning formed the basis of a panel session I did with Clare Payne, EY Fellow, Trust and Ethics, and Jeremy Hirschhorn, Second Commissioner – Client Engagement Group, Australian Taxation Office for the 2019 EY Tax Leaders’ Summit on Friday, 6 September Session titled:

Trusted relationships: How to gain and maintain trust.

Trust of course is one of the foundation building blocks of Leadership.

click to chat with John about leadership

I started with a statement about how I approached the situation as Head Coach.

“To establish trust with the athletes I coached in the Australian cricket team, I had to firstly understand my coaching philosophy, principles and cornerstones. To maintain trust, I had to live them every moment of every day.”

Trust begins with SELF – everyone knows or has heard of the saying “be true to yourself”.

That is to say –
Step1: know yourself inside out – why you do what you do, your cornerstone principles , and overall philosophy
Step2: accept yourself & love yourself, ie know there are strengths and weaknesses, some can be fine tuned, but values and cornerstones will not be shifted. Be ‘happy in your skin’.
Step3: execute, back yourself, knowing that some people will not agree with you, not like you, poised always to criticise/bring you down. But if you spend time listening to them or even worse trying to make them like you – firstly you will become distracted from what you need to be doing; and secondly, you will be tempted to compromise your principles and values which is the end for a leader.

Strike One for Steve Smith in Cape Town. As a Leader, there is not the option to turn a blind eye and appeal for ignorance. The standards you accept and deliver as a leader are the ones that direct and influence all those with whom the leader interacts.

Which comes to the second part of Trust – relationship, the external manifestation of your SELF.

These are your actions and behaviours –

Coaching, managing, leading, parenting, listening, counselling, directing and so on, are all about relationships.
What people want from you, the leader is CONSISTENCY whether they like, agree with you or not.
Consistency means you have to deliver YOU every moment of every day so that people know who you are, what you stand for and this is the basis of building TEAM as a leader.

Strike TWO for Steve Smith as a leader.

Now he may well have learnt more about leadership in the last 18 months or so than he has learnt in his life previously. And hopefully he keeps learning.

But in the position he occupied, there are no second chances in my opinion, no 2 Strike policy.

So, when I am asked about Steve Smith.

Australian cricket needs him now as a batsman to score runs, and to help all those around him to draw inspiration and confidence from what he is doing.

And inside the dressing room, he may be in a better place to pass on the leadership lessons he has learnt the hard way and is learning every day.

I think Justin Langer will see this as an important role that he can play for the growing maturity of the Australian cricket team’s culture.