A Free Chapter from:
by Dr Stewart
Cotterill and Dr Jamie Barker
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This is Page 3
as a Cricket Captain
Another important aspect of effective
leadership and effective captaincy is your ability to work with
individuals. This ‘man management’ is crucial. We all know that
there are different types of people, and as a result different
sorts of players. Some players are very extraverted (loud and
talkative) while other players might be introverted (think more,
and like their own time and space). Some players make decisions
based on logic and reason while others prefer to go with their
gut instinct. There are those who want to understand the bigger
picture with other players who are happy focusing on the here
and now. A truly effective captain and leader needs to be able
to understand and communicate with all of these different types
of people. This is important because what motivates one person
will not necessarily motivate another. The key is to be able to
get the most out of each individual player.
Central to this idea of man management is
the ability to build relationships and to get to know people.
You will not really know the best way to talk to a player, or
how to motivate them, if you do not first take the time to get
to know them. This, in turn, requires you to ask questions to
find out about them and to actually listen to the answers they
give. Now this might seem like a strange thing to say but it is
important. There is significant evidence that what actually
happens in most conversations is that two people talk
at each other and have
almost their own separate conversations. This is because, for
many people, they use the break in their speech to think about
what they are going to say
next. Unfortunately this also happens when the other person
is talking, and as a result you don’t hear everything that each
person is saying. So, the first step in effective man management
is getting to know the other person through listening and
actively making an effort to get to know them.
Once you listen and learn, you will start
to develop an understanding of what makes a person ‘tick’, and
in doing so will know what their strengths, preferences and
weaknesses are. You can then start using this information to get
the best out of each individual and out of the team as a whole.
This is most important when the team is not doing very well.
When a team is winning it is far easier for
players to stay motivated and to be committed to the team. This
is far more difficult when the team is not doing so well. The
captain needs to be able to ‘take the team with them’ and prove
able to resolve any issues that arise on an individual basis
with the relevant players. This can only really be done through
knowing the individual. Otherwise there is the potential that
you have the opposite effect and either demotivate, alienate or
patronise the other player, which will be detrimental to the
team going forward.
We communicate all the time, but are not
necessarily aware of the messages that we are sending.
Understanding the nature of communication in the team can help
to develop strategies to enhance the team thanks to improved
communication. This is important as a lack of good communication
can result in a lack of cooperation, reduced coordination, and
increased confusion amongst the team.
Of particular interest to cricket teams are
group communication. Interpersonal communication is simply
communication that takes place between two or more people. Group
communication refers to communication that takes place between a
number of individuals who are members of the same group or team.
can also generally be further divided based on whether it is
verbal or non-verbal, and whether it is intentional or
unintentional. Verbal communication, as you would probably
expect, is quite simply communication through the use of spoken
sounds and words. Central to this are the words that you use to
Non-verbal communication is a generic
umbrella term that includes a number of specific components.
- Facial expressions
- Eye contact
- Body language and posture
- Physical appearance
- Proximity (how close you are)
Non-verbal communication is very important
in cricket. The captain (in the field) uses gestures to direct
the fielders. Also, umpires use signals and gestures to give a
batsman out, signal a four or a six, wides, no-balls and free
Good communicators need to be aware of both
the verbal and non-verbal ways they communicate to be really
effective leaders. If your mouth is saying one thing, but your
body is saying another - the strength of the message you are
trying to communicate is lost. So to be most effective as a
communicator you need to ensure that verbal and non-verbal
communications are saying
the same thing.
Intentional communication (as the name
suggests) relates to messages you deliberately mean to send. An
example of this is when the captain uses their finger, to point
to where they want a fielder to move to, on the pitch.
Unintentional communication occurs when individuals
inadvertently send messages that they did not mean to. Body
language is a good example of this. In a game when performance
is going against you in the field, heads and shoulders can drop;
this in turn sends a clear message to the batting team, who will
seek to capitalise. It will also make the batsmen feel more
confident which will make your job harder.
All aspects of communication can be
improved. If you are not great at sending the right messages
non-verbally - work on practicing the relevant behaviours to
send the right messages. You can also become more aware of the
non-verbal messages you send through video analysis where you
watch back how you present yourself.
A good example of the use of non-verbal
communication is through ‘active listening’. This is where you
demonstrate you are interested and engaged in what the other
person is saying. You can achieve this by sitting forward,
sitting still, looking them in the eye, nodding, and focusing on
the person you are listening to. If you laugh, or look away, or
yawn, or fidget then you are just encouraging the other person
to stop talking. As a result you might never know what they
thought or had to say.
Finally, many captains, coaches, and
leaders in general, often search for the ‘golden’ team talk. The
sort of thing that you see in the movies. This is where the
leader (who has usually been through some degree of hardship) is
able to stand up and give a speech that both motivates and
inspires the team to win (and inevitably the team then goes on
to win). As a result many captains get side-tracked by the wrong
question. You should not be asking ‘How do I give an
inspirational and motivational speech?’ Instead, you should be
asking ‘How do I motivate and inspire the team?’ These two
things are definitely not the same thing.
Some people are naturally great speakers,
so for them, talking to the whole group might just work.
However, for most people, they should look to inspire and
motivate each individual player separately. This can, in part,
be achieved by leading by example (be an inspiration). This can
also be achieved by understanding what makes each player in the
team tick and being able to motivate and inspire them based upon
their personal philosophy and values. This represents more work
for the captain (you need to get to know all of the team), but
can ensure that you are able to both motivate and inspire the
team through effective man management.
A key aspect of any leadership role is the
ability to resolve conflict. In cricket teams there is always a
degree of ‘banter’ in the dressing room. But sometimes this
banter can go too far, or players can fall out either on, or
off, of the pitch. To ensure that the team keeps on being as
effective as possible, a key job for the captain is to help
defuse and resolve these potential conflicts.
But it is also important to remember that
conflict can also be helpful rather than just a hindrance.
Whilst conflict might harm performance and the togetherness of the team, it can also
help the team to question current approaches and practices
driven by a desire to move forward. So, in a sense, conflict can
be both constructive and destructive.
Teams should look to encourage constructive
conflict while reducing destructive conflict. Constructive
conflict has been shown to be beneficial to teams as it can
enhance team decision-making quality and acceptance, increase
performance and lead to a greater degree of creativity and
innovation. The main sources of conflict in a team relate to
differences regarding the task at hand, and
Task conflicts can include different
viewpoints, ideas, and opinions. Relationship conflicts usually
arise because of an incompatibility between teammates and can
include tension, animosity and annoyance.
In conflict situations, one of the roles of
the captain is to defuse, manage and resolve the situation. Five
specific approaches to conflict resolution have been identified
in the psychology literature:
The approach adopted depends upon the
Collaboration In this approach you should state your views,
listen to the other party’s views, and then come to a negotiated
solution. In this approach the solution should incorporate the
views of both parties and be acceptable to both parties.
Competition In this approach the two parties have differing
views regarding the situation and the relevant solutions that
are either available, or desirable. It is up to one party to
convince the other party to accept their point of view, and
ultimately their solution (either/or).
Accommodation In this approach, whilst both parties have
differing views regarding the issue and potential solutions, you
deem there to be strategic reasons why accommodating the
alternative view or solution is advantageous.
Avoidance In this approach the issue that forms the basis of
the conflict is largely ignored, hoping that with time, the
issue will resolve itself.
Compromise In this approach both parties have different
viewpoints, but are willing to make concessions in order to
resolve the issue.
The leadership that a team receives is
fundamental to the team’s success or failure. This is true for,
coaches, captains and informal leaders. Effective leaders
influence, inspire, and motivate both individuals and the team.
Mike Brearley has suggested that fundamental to the role of
captain is the desire to understand what makes people tick.
Whilst understanding the characteristics of
the individual and the situation are important the
the two appears to be critical to success. The more the captain
is aware of the situational demands the more likely they are to
be successful in a variety of environments. As a result, the
self-awareness of the leader and in particular their style,
strengths, and weaknesses appears to be important.
Understanding the tactical aspects of the
game is important, but even more so is the ability to
communicate, organise, make decisions, man-manage, and resolve
conflicts. So, captaincy should not just be about the best
player, but about the best leader. Sometimes, these are not the
- Leadership is an important aspect of
- There is no one approach that works
best, play to your strengths as an individual
- Get to know each individual and become
an effective man-manager
- You don’t need to have all the
answers, make sure you use all the skills of your team
- Always look to lead by example
- Pay particular attention to your
communication skills (including listening)
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