Unlocking extraordinary potential.

Stoking the flames of unprecedented success

This week, those cricket fans who were willing to get up three hours before dawn for five days in a row, were treated to possibly the greatest English test performance ever seen, with an extraordinary win in the dying embers of the final day’s light, that most commentators concluded probably no other English team in history would have had the courage and skill to achieve.

But the most remarkable thing is not the performance itself, nor the records that fell along the way, but the fact that this England squad, that’s now won seven of the eight matches it has played under a new captain and coach, was almost the exact same squad that had won just one of its previous seventeen games under a different captain and coach.

Just over a year ago, following England’s comprehensive Ashes drubbing at the end of a woeful 2021 season, the ECB asked former captain Andrew Strauss to lead a review into the whole of the men’s game to try and find ways to stem the elite teams’ catastrophic decline in performance.

A couple of months ago, the draft report was shared with sweeping recommendations around formats and infrastructure, the numbers of teams and games, the approach to talent development and so forth, and there may be value in many of those proposals.

But the transformation in England’s fortunes that’s happened while that same report was being developed and prepared, required none of those things.

It simply required new leadership, a new mindset, a crystal-clear vision, and above all, a positive and supportive environment in which the amazing talent they already had could be genuinely unleashed.

The new coach Brendon McCullum, and new captain Ben Stokes, deliberately took the pressure off the players with the simplest of briefs: just to go out there and enjoy playing your own game in your own style, with freedom and confidence; give our supporters vibrant, attacking, fearless cricket, and we will back you all the way, win or lose, come what may.

The result has been entertaining and enthralling, and so devastatingly effective that it is almost certain to have a deep and lasting impact on how the five-day game is played around the world.

When I first started consulting, I fell naturally into the Andrew Strauss and ECB camp, helping organisations to grow with well researched new strategies and structures; product and market developments; new investments in infrastructure and talent development.

And they are still important ingredients over the long term, don’t get me wrong.

But over the years I’ve come to understand how the most immediate, impactful, and competitively devastating changes, don’t come from any of those things. They come from a change in mindset and attitude, where leadership and coaching can create a culture and environment to unleash the talent and the locked-up potential that an organisation already has within it.

So, how are you going to set about unlocking your team’s talents?

How can you “stoke the flames” of unprecedented business success?