No trust was lost between the coach and the captain?
Jul 16, 2017

The coach of the Indian cricket team, Anil Kumble, stepped down from his coaching assignment, apparently on account of the reservations Virat Kohli, the captain, had with his “style” of coaching. This parting of ways, last month, between the coach and the captain, caused dismay among the cricket loving population in India.

Anil is highly respected internationally as a cricket professional, with long years of service to Indian cricket, the highest wicket taker in test cricket for the country, a former captain, and currently Chairman of the cricket committee of the International Cricket Council. On the other hand, Virat is the top batsman in the world at present and leading Indian cricket from the front with his style of play and captaincy. What could have gone wrong between the two stalwarts of Indian cricket?  Whatever happened does not augur well for the Indian cricket team.

Let us view this in the context of coaching skills and competencies. One of the core competencies in coaching is establishing trust between the coach and the coachee. If this is not done right at the beginning itself, the coaching engagement will not be fruitful at all.  ICF Core competencies schedule defines establishing trust and intimacy’ as the “ability to create a safe and supporting environment that produces ongoing mutual respect and trust”.  Building trust is the responsibility of the coach in a coaching relationship and of course the coachee has to be a willing partner in the relationship.

One of the criteria for evaluating this competency  of ‘establishing trust’ to check is whether the coach is more interested in his own view rather than the coachee’s view of the situation. When the coach is not seeking information about the coachee’s perspective, the coach is not going to be able to build a trusting relationship with him.

We do not know what transpired between Anil and Virat – it is a private matter of the team dressing room. We are only reading the speculation by the media, aided by selective leaks by those in cricket administration in India. Without knowing the details and without intending to pass any judgement on the matter, I can only reiterate the importance of creating trust and rapport by the coach with the coachee. Without a trusting relationship, all the expertise and skill sets that the coach may possess and his stature in the field that he brings to the table, will, in all likelihood, fall flat on the ground.

If we take this learning to our coach selection process of the cricket team, or any sports discipline, the selectors will need to evaluate coaching skills of the candidates, rather than expertise and the stature of the person in that discipline.

In the business world too, the same principles apply. The leader of the organisation often plays the role of the coach and will need more of the fundamental coaching skills, such as building trust and rapport, rather than specific knowledge and expertise of the industry.  Are we applying the relevant criteria in selection of business leaders?


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