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Leadership Speech of 'Guru' Greg Chappell

Greg Chappell at Mysore, Nov'09 [Source: self]
BRIEF, ARTICULATE, NO-NONSENSE, ALL-BUSINESS 'Guru' Greg Chappell has a pleasantly lighter side to his otherwise tough-guy personality and the young Indian crowd of Software professionals at ILI, Mysore got the rare pleasure of interacting up close and personal with the Australian cricket legend during his leadership speech last week.

Greg Chappell is a master tactician from southern Australia – apart from being the captain of Australia Test squad like his grandfather and elder brother, his illustrious career also includes joining breakaway leagues, fighting off nude opponents on the pitch, and the historically forgettable under-arm delivery that Greg as the then captain of Australia instructed his younger brother Trevor Chappell to deliver as the final ball in '81 against NZ at MCG.

Greg was appointed the coach for India national cricket team until 2007 where the media gave him the nick name of 'Guru' Greg. Among other things, he is the current coach of the Twenty20 cricketing league Rajasthan Royals of IPL in India.

Through a rather vivid and witty speech riddled with interesting anecdotes he spoke about some of the hard-core sporting leadership skills and put them into perspective with corporate leadership qualities.

Ian Chappell – my best captain (and leader):

For Greg, his older brother Ian Chappell is the best Cricket captain. In Greg's words: Ian was a very aggressive batsman, almost a Kamikaze-like as a captain who led from the front. He only had one intention and that was to win the game from the start. And he engendered confidence in his players. He was a very good communicator – he gave his players specific roles, and kept faith in them to fulfill those roles.

Greg recounted his early days in Adelaide where their father, a prolific sportsman himself, built a practice wicket in their backyard for the brothers to play cricket at. He encouraged them to play with the hard ball from a young age because he thought the kids needed to know what playing with a hard ball was all about. Mockingly, Greg observed though that they were not provided with gloves and pads at that time and so they indeed found out how a hard ball felt like – particularly when Ian was five years elder to him.

The big matches of that era were The Ashes. Being the older brother, Ian was always 'Australia' whilst Greg was in the team labeled England. Greg described this as the first real conflict in his life because while he didn’t want to be beaten by his older brother, he really didn’t have the heart to win for 'England'.

Greg designated these days as the most important period of his development as a cricket player. The tough training of the backyard matches prepared him for the real Test cricket starting with first class matches. Bending the crowd over with laughter once again, Greg inserted here that it was a different matter during the many occasions when Ian and he played together in the same team for Australia, most of the time it ended in a disaster with one or the other being run-out.

The four great captions of Australia and their common Leadership traits:

In the order of their era Greg spoke about Sir Don Bradman – the greatest Batsman thus far, Richard "Richie" Benaud – his role-model as the all-rounder, Ian Chappell – as above, and Mark Taylor – one of the most successful of captains, as the four great Australian captains that he considered having notable leadership skills.

Courageous and confident – they made decisions ‘decisively’. You were never left in any doubt. They made decisions [during the match] that would put their team on top rather than opposition to do things and then trying to catch up and play.

Lead the game rather than followed it – they lead from the front, they lead by example, and they were consistent in the way they went about what they did.

Read the game well and Communicated well – To be an astute tactician one needs to understand the game inside-out. Communication is very important – [by our captains] we all knew our roles, where did we stand, and what was expected out of us.

Respect of peers and be respected by peers – Since they both earned [ought to earn] that respect

All of them were Good bowling captains and understood the importance of spinners – [being a batsman] unless you understand how hard bowling is its very difficult to be a good captain

For all Captains they were Aggressive by inclination and Victory was the primary objective.


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