Return of Kevin the Zombie

A lot of names have been in the press recently. The vast majority are politicians who have won seats, lost seats, resigned and reinstated themselves. Nigel Farage has undergone a resurrection. George Galloway may be lurking in the shadows. Yvette Cooper is on her own “road to Damascus” and then there is Kevin Pietersen.

Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen is arguably one of England’s greatest cricket players. On his day he is a prodigious run scorer and capable of turning a game in a single innings. In form he is a spectacular player and potential match winner and yet he languishes outside the boundary of the international game.

The downfall of KP from superstar to pariah was marked by a series of events. First there were the falling out with the England coach, Peter Moores. Then came the texts to the South Africans that lead to his first departure from the England side. Following rehabilitation there was the disastrous Ashes tour of Australia that lead to his sacking from English international cricket. The final nail in his coffin was the venomous book KP: The Autobiography,where Pietersen sort to set the record staight.

Pietersen and strauss

Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss celebrating success in happier times.

The appointment of Andrew Strauss as the director of England cricket means that it is highly unlikely that KP will return to the test team, particularly as both Joe Root and Gary Balance have proved their value. Yet in spite of all this, there still seems to be a whiff in the air that he might not be dead and buried. Could Kevin Pietersen return and represent England again?

There are roles that he could fulfil.

Imagine the situation in the next Ashes tour where England are 2-1 down in the series. England need to win the final 2 games to take the Ashes but Joe Root is injured. Who would you want to call up as a replacement; a promising but unblooded youngster or an in form Pietersen?

Imagine another scenario as England fight to regain credibility in the short game formats. The ECB uses these formats, rightly or wrongly, to develop leaders in the international game. KP is placed in the team as the Vice Captain, to draw on his extensive experience in one day and 20/20 cricket, specifically to mentor and develop the youngsters.

There is nothing unusual about this, the Army does it all the time when it pairs young officers with experienced sergeants. It works well, generating respect and life long friendships on both sides. Why not do  it for English cricket?

Could Kevin Pietersen make an immediate return to English cricket? The short answer is no. KP has proved to be too disruptive and as Andrew Strauss has said, he is simply not trusted. That should be the stake through the heart, or what ever it takes to kill a zombie.

But he is not dead and KP, if he is determined enough, can rise again if he takes 4 simple actions:

Develop and improve his self awareness. KP’s behaviour is perceived as ego-centric and he needs to develop his self awareness. This provides a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. It would allow him to understand other people and how they perceive him, his attitude and his interaction with the dressing room. It’s KP’s lack of self awareness that has landed him in trouble.

Understand team dynamics. The team, particularly a sporting or military team, is focussed on a specific shared goal.This creates a dynamic between the individuals as they are all interdependent on each other to achieve the result – win or lose.

The team supports each other as the going gets tough

The team supports each other as the going gets tough

No single individual is above the team and KP must understand the role that he has to play to achieve success for the team.

Develop a basic understanding of leadership. We expect competent individuals to lead without developing them. It is one of the most common failings in British business. Most individuals will have to show leadership at some point in their lives and it is expected of senior players. Only by understanding leadership can Pietersen support the leader and contribute to team success.

Be in the form of his life. A batsman able to intimidate aggressive bowlers and turn games in a single session.

Does Pietersen really want to return to first class cricket? There is no doubt that he is a great talent who has been mismanaged. He made mistakes but the sacking saga was ridiculous. There is a gulf of trust between him and Andrew Strauss that will have to be bridged but rehabilitation is possible. Kevin Pietersen is the only person who can decide to take the first step.Kevin-Pietersen-action-wallpaper-hdI hope he does. It would be glorious to see him hammering the Australians or any other team for that matter.

Kevin if you decide to give it go, call us and we will help you out.

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Scotland sails into stormy waters

Some years ago I discussed the nature of democracy with one of my American colleagues. The question of Scottish independence was on the political horizon, so I asked him how the USA would react if the Southern States decided to break away from their Union. “Well they tried it once and we fought them, if they try it again we will fight them again”.

The United Kingdom has agreed scotland-independence scissorsto the most forward leaning demonstration of democracy in the world – the breakup of a 300 year political, economic and cultural union that had brought stability and prosperity, in the interests of the betterment of a single nation. It’s an interesting experiment for academic observers but for the people of Scotland it is the start of a voyage into stormy waters.

We should be under no illusions about the impact of the referendum, regardless of the outcome. It’s about change on a grand scale with uncertain outcomes and it’s already generating considerable conflict.

Most people liken change to turning a supertanker. It might take time but if you hold the course long enough you will accomplish your goals. Unfortunately it is simply not that easy. Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development indicates that only 30 – 40% of changes in business achieve their stated goals. Those that fail usually result in loss of market position, removal of senior management, loss of stakeholder credibility, loss of key employees and decreased motivation of staff. Business is one thing but changing a nation will be much, much harder.

Bristol_Riots_of_1831

Bristol riots of 1832 following the rejection of the Reform Bill

The fundamental problem for those seeking change is that human beings hate it. Change unsettles them and threatens their values. Aside from the purely practical issues, change is a deeply emotional matter. Just ask somebody who has moved house or changed schools recently.

People forget that the decision to change direction is only the first step on a challenging road. The change must be planned, implemented and consolidated to ensure a smooth transition. You force through change at your peril as illustrated by the continuing In/Out debate about Europe, 30 years after the UK’s last referendum.

The Scottish Referendum is the starting point and in itself will not guarantee a successful outcome. It will, however, open fault lines within Scotland. The problem is that a referendum is an adversarial contest. Its about argument rather than debate, positioning rather than consensual agreement. Someone will win and someone will lose.

We all know how we feel when we back a party that loses an election – disbelief, denial, anger and finally acceptance with the rationale that it’s only 5 years. However, this referendum is for something permanent, something with which future generations will have to live.Change-Curve 02In these circumstances it is quite possible that those who lose will never make the The Pit of Despairconversion from anger to acceptance but might remain trapped in what is best described as the “pit of despair”. If this happens Scottish politics could well be redrawn on separatist and unionist lines, splitting communities and families in a bitter political war that would make the miners’ strike look like child’s play.

The second issue is the complexity of the arguments.  Few people are able to work their way through the various effects of independence with both sides producing visions of future sunlit uplands. How do we know what is right, if those people who look at these issues for a living cannot agree amongst themselves?

Laurence Brunton, landlord of the Castle Hotel on Dunbar High Street still has to make up his own mind on the referendum question. “I keep swithering, and I think a lot of people are the same. Are you better with the devil you know? One side says you’ll be this much better off, the other says this amount worse off. It’s a gamble.”

pg-1-halmond-gettyBased on the most recent polls the 30% of undecided voters hold the key to independence and how they vote on the day will be crucial. Persuade enough of them and Alex Salmond will achieve his life’s work. It must be a tempting thought to promise people the world to attain the political dream.

Politicians on both sides of the argument must remember that the voting will be emotional, more emotional than in any previous election in Scotland. Any failure to deliver on expectations and promises will result in a catastrophic backlash. A referendum won on the basis of broken promises or unfulfilled expectations will be regarded as betrayal and as I have written previously, betrayal is the worst sin.

So, will Scotland’s southern neighbour fight to prevent separation? No, absolutely not, but the Scots may well fight amongst themselves unless there is good, honest leadership. Unfortunately, as we have all come to realise over the last two decades, these attributes are rare commodities in modern politicians.

Good luck to you all and mind how you go. It’s going to be stormy out there.Ship in a storm 1977 (13)