The team’s performance was woeful under the stewardship of a “technically perfect” coach – Mickey Arthur. He used the latest high performance strategies and tried to emulate the success of other great sporting teams to lead the Australian cricket team. He made his operating culture clear through statements such as:
It is a strong message to everyone in Australian cricket that if you want to play for the Australian Cricket Team, then we demand excellence and corner-cutting, taking short-cuts or arriving with a bad attitude will no longer be tolerated.
The result for Australian cricket however was a series of losses, constant player turnover, low morale, infighting on and off the field, no team cohesion and our cheeky Aussie payers lost that quintessential fighting spark.
Mickey was moved on and Darren Lehmann was brought in as the new Australian coach. His performance philosophies were simple by comparison and he talked about family, performing at your best and having fun. The results have been outstanding – ultra high performance, team cohesion, players fully engaged and a team the rest of us can be proud of.
What can we all learn from the people management approaches of two coaches?
People will not perform at their best in a zero tolerance environment such as do it my way or you are out. Imposing rules helps fix problems it wont ever create progress.
After spending their whole lives practicing for and dreaming of one day playing for Australia, these talented young men could not perform any better than they did in the restrictive culture created by Mickey Arthur.
People will perform and exceed performance expectations (remember the recent 5 nil Ashes victory) when they are given a supportive, cooperative and “enjoy the game” environment. Michael Clarke noted that the team worked harder than they ever had before to prepare for the recent Ashes series.
Care about your people as people not just a role – Put yourself in their shoes, really know what is involved in doing their jobs, figure out how you can mentor them to do be better and be more effective in their work.
Have some fun – Darren Lehmann is known for introducing the daily joke. Before the start of play a team member is required to tell a joke to the rest of the group. Why, because it put’s a smile on everyone’s face from the start of the day and as we all know happy people are better performers.
Ensure there are consequences – The people orientation fostered by Darren Lehmann is underpinned by taking on poor performance and recognising exceptional effort. People need to leaders to see and act on their performance and actively see and act on others performance as well.
Everyone likes Darren Lehmann – a status too few people managers are taught to care for these days but one that is critical if you want to get the most from your people.