Home Forums ARMY QUESTIONS Leadership and influence: What Smith, Warner and Bancroft can teach us.


2 replies, 3 voices Last updated by  Michael Slattery 2 years, 1 month ago
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    David French

    Like many of us I suspect, I’ve watched on with a mixture of disgust, shame and embarrassment about how the Australian Cricket Team plotted to cheat in the recent Cape Town test. I’ve been thinking about writing about this for a while, but I wanted to see how each of the players copped their suspensions first.

    All other histrionics aside about why this issue caused such an outrage against real world problems, if the punishments were suitable or not, or whether we know all of the details I offer this: I believe that Smith and Warner have shown the worst examples of leadership through their actions and inactions; and Bancroft a lack of moral courage.
    To me leadership is the ability to influence other people This might be in their thoughts, or in their actions. The key component of leadership is about influence. People might exercise this ability in different ways; in their actions; in the written word; in what they say and how they do things. In the military we ask men and women who might be considered young in the civilian world to act as leaders in positions of immense responsibility – and most of them do a damn fine job at it. But there are always those who fail for one reason or another.

    Like Smith – they might have all the ability in the world as a soldier, but not the ability to stop people from acting poorly; or the moral courage to call them out on it.
    Like Warner – they might be toxic to your organisational culture; appearing to think they know better, can take shortcuts and ignore the rules of life as if they don’t apply to them.

    The kicker is that the people that are hurt the most by this are the Bancrofts – the new and impressionable who just want to be accepted by the team.
    For those who are aspiring to join the military, or just be better in life perhaps this might be worth considering:

    Don’t be a Smith – call out the wrongs you witness, know when to speak up. Don’t think that owning up to your mistakes when you are caught out is an admirable trait. Preventing them is. Leaders are never ‘off’; they never get the choice of ignoring poor behaviour.

    Don’t be a Warner – You might have all the skills in the world but if you’re a jerk and a cheat you will ultimately hurt the team.

    Don’t be a Bancroft – You might get asked to do something wrong by the jerk who is scared of getting caught out themselves. Stand up for yourself and your morals.

    I’d be interested to hear what other people think about this issue – not the cricket side of it; you’ve missed the point if you think that is the point! – but on what leadership is to you.


    Chris Booth

    Mate – I think you are bang on here.

    I think to add something to it would be the purpose of which leadership is pointed towards. There is an argument that can be made here that, because of the eventual compliance of Bancroft (and others unknown I assume) the leadership (influence) of people like Warner is actually pretty good. He had the influence to make someone do something. And IF (I make an assumption here) the goal was to ‘win at all costs’, then the leadership had its desired effect on things. Perhaps they have some leadership ability but were leading poorly.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think they are Smith and Warner horrible examples of leaders with this incident, and Bancroft’s example is exactly what you said – a lack of moral courage. But perhaps an underlying issue here is the direction/ destination in which the leaders are leading towards. Having a firm moral compass will aid in this, but one of the best functions of a leader is to ensure that the mission and its parameters are cleared and agreed upon.

    A key failure here is of leadership setting the mission as ‘win at all costs’ – forgetting for a moment the scale of importance cricket falls on. Noone likes to lose, but the loss of a moral compass here is perhaps more significant than losing a test/ pay/ reputation.


    Michael Slattery

    As the old saying goes “Its just not cricket”, is it. I believe that there exists a certain undercurrent that has lead to the issues seen here (in South Africa) and in the fall out that has come from it.

    Let me say straight off – that Im not a cricket fanatic, far from it. I grew up in a family with strong Australian male role models (cricket was high on the list). The point is – love it or hate it – its in the public forum and on display as a “yard stick” of behaviours that we as a collective expect to be beyond reproach. Unfortunately, this has been shown to not be the case.

    Leadership, good leadership – does just that! They set the example, make the hard decisions and take responsibility for action or inaction.

    We can teach people to lead. What we cannot do is determine how they will lead – that is a morale decision, and lets face it we are all human and susceptible to faults, acts or omissions in judgement.

    If we do fall short – we should accept, learn and move forward.

    It’s disappointing that these acts in South Africa will have such far reaching consequences for these guys, their families and their fans.

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