The Leader must ‘infuse’ not ‘invoke’ the vision and the overarching strategies.
Steve Waugh had just taken over as captain of the Australian Cricket team prior to my appointment as Coach. And, while he was uncertain about the concept of ‘invincible’, he too shared a vision of the team putting its mark in the annals of Australian and world sporting history.
Indeed, it would do this sooner than we both had envisaged. After winning the First Test against Pakistan reasonably comfortably, we miraculously won the Second Test in Hobart with a come-from-behind win – Adam Gilchrist and Justin Langer’s partnership sealing one of the greatest winning chases in the fourth innings of a game.
While there is nothing like winning, there is nothing like winning the seemingly unwinnable to fuel the belief of a team. This Australian Cricket Team went on to win sixteen consecutive Test matches across six series and four countries – a record that still stands.
Having a clear vision of where you want to take people is one of the most important roles of managing and coaching a team. Everything else follows: the leadership, the team ethos and culture, the methodology for achieving the vision, and the type of people needed to drive it.
As with any team or organisation, for a vision to become reality it has to be shared by the majority of its members, especially the team or senior leaders. This can be a difficult process as different people may have a different picture of what can and should be achieved. The important role here for the coach or the leader is to recognise who the key players are and what they see as the future of the team or organisation.
I have often used various quotes from visionaries such as Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, and his military principles of war to reinforce the concept behind a team’s vision. A few examples of quotes that can emphasise the message behind a vision are:
- ‘… we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit …’ Aristotle. ’Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it … autograph your work with excellence …’ author unknown.
- ‘If better is possible, good is not enough!’ author unknown.
- ‘It is not how good you are, it is how good you can be.’ A former coach’s comment on tennis player Roger Federer.
- ‘I do not skate to where the puck is, I skate to where the puck will be.” Wayne Gretsky, one of the greatest North American ice hockey players.