Avoid sticky wickets: Follow Aussie cricket team's lead

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Last month four Australian cricket players were suspended for not doing their homework. While many former cricketing greats took to the media to criticise the decision, founder and principal of Kameleons, Michael Peiniger says advisers wanting to be leaders could learn a thing or two.

“While many people are reluctant to accept the link between sport and business there are indeed lessons to be learnt. Especially in relation to leaders being called upon to make the tough decisions and this is one of the biggest challenges and defining attributes of leadership,” says Peiniger.

Peiniger says that failing to enforce a standard doesn’t make the leader a better friend, a better teammate or a better captain – it just makes both the leader and team weaker.

“In fact, considering the situation that was faced by the Australian Cricket team last month and the lessons that are applicable in most work places – who wants to lead or work with a team member that thinks that the rules don’t apply to them?”

Peiniger believes there are four components to creating a standard for a team:

  1. Clearly identify the behaviour standard to set
  2. As the leader, ensure you are meeting the standard yourself
  3. Communicate the standard to all team members, ensuring they understand the ‘why’, and
  4. Enforce the standard

It is well recognised that critical decisions put leaders to the test, says Peiniger. In tumultuous times, true leaders make tough choices with courage and audacity. Others cannot cope with the difficulty and uncertainty so they remain indecisive, and in business, their competitors win their customers and market share.

“When it comes to leadership standards, the effort is in the enforcing, not the setting,” says Peiniger. To enforce a standard, a leader needs to make sure:

  1. The standard being enforced is clearly articulated and agreed to by the team
  2. The person breaking the standard knew exactly what was required
  3. The person breaking the standard knew exactly what the consequences would be
  4. What was done was for the good of the team, and in the long run, for the individual as well

Peiniger says the best leaders are those that are willing to face temporary unpopularity to maintain and enforce a standard.

“The making of tough decisions is the essence of leadership and leaders are entrusted with the responsibility by employers, customers, employees (the individuals that comprise the Australian Cricket team) to do ‘the right thing’!”

“The right thing might mean terminating an employee, restructuring an organisation, implementing a program, or simply telling someone ‘No’. The leader that does not make the right decision and act on it will lose all credibility and trust.”

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