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It's just not cricket

Not since the under-arm bowling incident in 1981, has Australian cricket seen so much controversy.  Our national identity is under threat as one incident has jettisoned our notion of having and being given a “fair go”.  What kind of a victory is it if you need to cheat to win?

One thing this outcry has brought home for me is that you can be one of the best cricketers in Australia and if you don’t have trust you have absolutely nothing.  Steve Smith and David Warner have lost the respect of the fans, Cricket Australia, the opposition, sponsors, even the Australian Prime Minister.  All have poured out their shock and anger.  All the skills in the world that got them to hold the most coveted positions on the Australian Cricket team, will be lost because of trust.

When the investigations are all said and done, they may say that they had a “brain snap”.  But neurons in the brain don’t make those connections over a sustained period unless you are part of a 'win at all costs' culture.  And everyone else who has been complicit in planning this didn’t also have the same coincidental “brain snap”.  No, we are seeing the fruit of deeply embedded culture.  So embedded that no one spoke up about it.  And as the fingers will eventually start to get pointed, we may discover that this is not the first time they stepped outside the straight and narrow.  Why do I say that? Because NO ONE stopped it.  If it was weird or unusual to cheat, someone in the leadership group would have said, “Come on fellas, this is just not cricket”.  But they didn’t.  Instead, the sin was getting caught.

We shouldn’t be surprised by cheating.  After all the brain is smarter than most rules or systems that we put in place.  The innovative and creative mind will always consider short cuts, improvements and disruptions.  However, when those “improvements” step outside the boundaries of values, then whatever win is gained cannot be sustainable.

I have seen this time and again in the corporate world where top performers with a 'win at all costs' mindset are eventually undone because of their own behaviour.  What’s worse, is when their bad behaviour is tolerated because they are a “rain maker”.  But it doesn’t last forever.  Win at all costs eventually costs all.

We are starting to hear some of the stories from the banking royal commission where short term wins ultimately bring companies and sectors into disrepute.  Where remuneration systems have not aligned behaviours with the values of the organisation and the customer has suffered as a result.

If you don’t want a win at all costs culture.  Then, leaders must

·      enable employees to speak up when practices don’t match values

·      align systems with values, not just outcomes

·      deal with employees that you don’t trust. Quickly.

If you don’t have trust, you don’t have anything.

(c) Sporting News