When the West Indies cricket team toured Australia in 1979/80, little was expected of them. On their previous tour they had been dealt a humiliating 5-1 defeat. While they had improved a lot in recent years, even dominating the shorter format of the game, when it came to test cricket they were seen as Calypso cricketers, entertaining and talented but not quite capable of a sustained winning streak.
The Aussies held out for a draw in the first test. And then, in the dying days of 1979, starting with the Melbourne test match, something magical happened; a talented, fractious bunch of players somehow came together, rose above their individual brilliance, thrashed Australia in the next two tests and went on to dominate world cricket for 15 years. There has never been a team like them in the history of the game and it is unlikely that there will ever be. They were an inspired and marauding force, crushing any and every opposition.
What lessons can the corporate world learn from Clive Lloyd’s team? Countless, but three spring to mind immediately.
Exceptional leadership: Clive Lloyd led the team brilliantly and by example. He personally excelled on the field, set high standards for the team and made them believe they could be world-beaters.
An outstanding product: This team was built around a uniquely competitive set of skills – an awesome batting pair at the top in Haynes and Greenidge; the best batsman of the modern game in Viv Richards; a destructive middle order built around the Captain and in Roberts, Holding, Garner and Croft, a pace quartet that to this day gives nightmares to batsmen from that era.
A larger sense of purpose: They were professional cricketers and money was important to them but they were very conscious of their cultural and social impact – for West Indians and for colored people everywhere, they were a source of pride and self-esteem. Cricket for this team was much more than just a game.
Study this team and interpret these factors in the context of your business. You will start getting a sense of excellence and of what lies behind it. You will not become world-beaters because that happens rarely but at the very least you will come away inspired. And if you happen to be American, you may even take up Cricket.