"Fixing" teams

In the past couple of weeks, a huge controversy has broken out in the Indian Premier League (IPL), a popular cricket tournament organized by the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI). 3 players of the Rajasthan Royals, one of the 9 teams in the competition were arrested by the Delhi police for their alleged involvement with bookies and underperforming in their roles for the team during various cricket matches. Although the element of fixing is not new to cricket, having famously been admitted to by Hansie Cronje, the South African cricket team captain in the year 2000, the recent arrests and ongoing investigations by the police has lead to wide spread outrage amongst cricket followers and fans in India and elsewhere. The evidence against the three players was telephone conversations and the footage from the games in which they underperformed.

While the fallout of the investigations continue, the captain of the affected team, Rahul Dravid, called the effect of having the players being called out in this fashion, like a bereavement. That would be putting it mildly. Putting oneself in the shoes of a captain of a sports team, especially in a game like cricket where decisions such as field placings, personnel to deploy at specific positions in the arena, batting and bowling positions are taken on the field by the captain in charge, it must be shattering to learn of the breach of trust from the team members. The playing captain has myriad added responsibilities apart from their own primary skills as part of the XI that form the team. These include, but are not limited to, facing the media, representing the team in various functions, motivating the team, planning the action on the field in advance, deciding on the playing XI, etc. A fundamental premise that every leader has is that every personnel is trustworthy. When given a task to perform, the team mate will put in his/ her best effort for the benefit of the team. In the case of the Rajasthan Royals and their captain, this trust was broken by the three players.

The dynamic nature of human personalities ensures that every team has its share of characters. Each person is different, what motivates different individuals is different. As the leader of a team, it is important to understand every playing and non-playing member. If that is not possible, then the team needs to be broken up into smaller groups of players, each with a designated and trustworthy leader, building a hierarchy of trusting relationships. These relationships maintain a synergy within the team and when they are in resonance, they serve as fantastic omens that the leader can recognize and take appropriate action on. Now building this kind of a structure takes time and effort and most importantly, dedication and careful thought. But once built, the team performs efficiently and remarkably well. One team that I see this kind of synergy in, is with the Miami Heat. The fun that the players seem to have when on court is infectious and evident to even those watching on television. The results of the team are in sync with the perception that I have of the team as well. Of course, in sport, the team is all that is visible of the organization but the make-up of the entire franchise itself can not be undermined either.

Fixing a team for consistent excellence begins from the top. When relationships are nurtured and embellished with caring within an organization, it feeds excellence in execution. The vision to achieve sustained relationships in a team will enable success to be achieved and the “fixers” within the team to fall by the wayside.

Residing in Bengaluru, I am a Techie by profession and a thinker and doer by birth. I muse about any topic under the sun and love to share my thoughts in print when I am not doing something with them. I love reading and at some point, thought that maybe others would like to read what I have to write, too!

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