When Is It Time For a Leader to Go?

cookOne of my passions is cricket and it is sad to see how far England have fallen in just over 2 years.

Back then England were ranked the number one team in the world and were Twenty20 World Champions and looked like they were heading towards a great period for English cricket.

We had one of the best batsmen in the world in Alistair Cook, he was on track to break all English batting records, and in addition we seemed to have a great bowling attack and had developed a mental toughness which had been missing for years.

As the current captain, Andrew Strauss, retired it made perfect sense for Alistair Cook to step in to the captaincy.

Initially he had great success, both individually and as captain, winning Series against India in India, and also against Australia at home, as well as passing English batting records. For England and their captain, things just could not be better.

But then the last series against Australia although we won, cracks were beginning to appear in the team, but these warnings were not really heeded as the team had won, although not as convincingly as they should have.

These highs were quickly followed by tremendous lows with a 5-0 series thrashing by Australia in Australia. It wasn’t just the defeat, it was the manner of the defeats that was unsettling, England were humiliated, they were embarrassed and made to look very poor by an average Australian team.

In these games our Captain Alistair Cook didn’t perform well either as captain or individually. England seemed to lack fight, they lacked belief and with Cooks poor individual form we lacked an example being set by the captain, which the other players could follow.

Following the poor performance against Australia, England are now on the verge of a first home series defeat against Sri Lanka and Captain Cooks form mirrors England’s. During this slump Cook has not only struggled as captain but he has struggled individually as well.

It would be fair to say that if he were not captain, there are doubts as to whether he would actually make the team given his current run of poor form.

It’s true that Cook is a world class player, and he will find his form eventually, but will remaining as the captain of a losing team aid or hinder that process.

If you are failing as both a leader and individual contributor then it’s time to make changes, and the only possible change is to give up the captaincy and to focus on your own individual play.

It’s a tough decision to make but trying to recover in two areas at once, leading and playing, is going to be very difficult, if not impossible.

Cooks most important contribution to the team is as a batsmen, if he can regain his form then he will be setting a great example to the team, and will lay a good foundation for success.

It’s always hard to give up leadership, but leadership is also about sacrifice, sacrificing yourself for the good of the team and in my opinion this is what Cook needs to do.

Hand over the captains reigns to someone else, relieve yourself of the burden of leadership, and focus on regaining your form.

As a leader where your contribution, either as an individual or as the captain, is not good enough it’s time to go.

I appreciate that some may call for patience, but after two series defeats, a change of coaching staff, a change of playing staff and no progress, it’s time for the leader to accept the need for change in captaincy.

The longer Cook stays on the more damage will be done to both the team and to himself, both in terms of form and reputation.

It’s never easy to give up the leadership but the team must come first.

Gordon Tredgold

#Leadership Principles