by Rudi Webster
In this year’s Christmas issue of the Cricketer magazine, former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd was voted as the best-ever international captain, just ahead of Imran Khan, the current Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Captains Mike Brearley, Brendon McCullum, the Nawab of Pataudi, Graeme Smith, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Viv Richards, Ray Illingworth, Mark Taylor and Michael Vaughan were all included in the survey.
In an enlightening and revealing article, author Simon Lister explained why he feels Lloyd had to win. This article should be compulsory reading for all West Indians, many of whom have the strange and unfortunate habit of belittling and diminishing the achievements of their own people while recognizing and rejoicing in the achievements of others.
As manager of the West Indies team during Kerry Packer’s World Series of Cricket, I saw firsthand the stellar role that Clive played in the birth, development and performance of that champion team.
In recognition of his great leadership and unique contribution to cricket in that turbulent period, Prime Minister Bob Hawke awarded him Australia’s highest honour.
Meeting Clive soon after his release from twenty-seven years of imprisonment, Nelson Mandela reportedly said, “I know this man. I followed his exploits on and off the cricket field.” About the same time, President De Klerk of South Africa told me how fortunate we were to have a leader like Clive Lloyd.
Good leaders play two important roles. In the task-oriented role, the leader ensures that members have the knowledge, training, skills and discipline to execute their tasks well, and that the tasks actually get done. In the maintenance role, the leader chooses the best people, blends their talent and expertise and helps them to manage their interpersonal relationships.
Most importantly, he espouses the team’s values and philosophy, communicates simply and clearly by words and deeds and motivates members to coordinate their efforts towards the achievement of the team’s goals.
England’s captain, Mike Brearley was highly acclaimed for the quality of his man-management skills. But according to the Cricketer article, if Brearley had a master’s degree in man-management, Clive Lloyd had a doctorate.
Clive’s team had lots of natural ability but he knew that ability was not enough to create a champion team.
How did he go about building his emerging team? This is what he said to me: “The first thing you must do is create the right mind-set in the players and instill the right values. You then have to emphasize the importance of fitness, physical skills, especially mastery of the basic skills, as well as mental skills like clear thinking, concentration, self-discipline, handling pressure, dealing with different game situations and continuous learning.
“I wanted my team to be the best batting team, the best bowling team and the best fielding team. And I wanted to be the best captain.” Lloyd achieved all of those goals and according to Simon Lister, he created the best team that cricket had known.
Simon added, “Captaincy in the West Indies is not just a privilege, it is a burden. But Lloyd had the courage to bear it. His leadership was sustained by the gift of acuity”
Clive’s training in leadership began at an early age, soon after his father died. He then became the man in the home and looked after his mother and sisters. In fact, he became the breadwinner in the family and quickly learned important family values like helping, caring, sharing and trusting.
He said, “I was like the head of everything – the leader. I didn’t look at it as leadership then, but that is what it was. Later on, I was able to instill those family values into my team. I believe that those values and the sense of family contributed greatly to the closeness of the team and to its outstanding success.”
Not many people realize how culturally diverse Caribbean people really are. A large part of Clive’s success came from his ability to transcend those differences. His capacity to simultaneously manage diversity and interdependence contributed greatly to his success.
The elimination of prejudice and insularity that had plagued West Indies cricket was probably his greatest achievement.
Lest we forget: from different West Indian islands Clive brought together a diverse collection of talented individuals who lacked direction, focus, discipline, mental toughness and common purpose and transformed them into a highly professional, disciplined and all-conquering unit that dominated world cricket for more than fifteen years.
Not only did he conceive and build the team, he took it to the pinnacle of success.
When Clive was given the captaincy of the team, his appointment was not universally accepted. Many West Indians thought that honour should have been given to one of two members of the team who were university graduates. The people did not understand that IQ and academic intelligence are very different from cricket intelligence.
We now know that cultural intelligence is in many cases more important to success than IQ and emotional intelligence. Clive’s cultural intelligence and cultural competence separated him from others, helped him enormously with team synergy and teamwork and allowed him to better understand the psyche of his players.
He knew what made his players tick and worked out how to motivate them. This was extremely important because the depth of the players’ self-discipline and motivation usually determines the level of their performance and success.
Clive had a clear and powerful vision of what he wanted his team to achieve and become. He imprinted that vision into his players’ minds and showed them how they would benefit from achieving the team’s goals.
By so doing, he created co-ownership and co-responsibility from the players for his simple but intelligent strategy to become the best team in the world. Additionally, he changed their mind-set, enhanced their self-belief, instilled strong core values, and in his own way motivated them to implement his strategy.
Each player then became a leader on the field.
The idea that Clive became a successful leader only because of the great talent of his players is a gross misunderstanding of what really happened.
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