Compassion – A Rare Leadership Trait

The dust has settled, the media have departed to focus on the next crisis, the guilty have been
removed from the arena and the majority are thankful it was not them in the glare of the media
frenzy, the public prosecution and eternal judgement.

Blog 4 Smith Warner & Bailey.jpg

I am talking of the Australian players who were made to be unsalvageable villains in the South
African ball tampering incident in South Africa recently.

There is no excusing their behaviour but there is perhaps value in understanding why 3 Australian
international representatives behaved uncharacteristically and brought shame on themselves, team
mates, family and friends and apparently the whole country.

Our expectations are that our international representatives will never soil the reputation of Australia
as a fair go country where honesty and fair play are paramount. And yet it happens with predictable
regularity as night follows day. Think London Olympics swim team, AFL, ARL, business, finance – the
list is endless.

So, what went wrong in this instance? What so significantly affected the decision making of these
reputable young men that they would blatantly and so obviously, cheat?

Is there room in this Shakespearean tragedy for more players – those that operated above and
beyond the scenes and apparently did nothing to effectively alter the script? Perhaps this is an
opportunity to reflect later.

The crucible of battle can melt the most hardened steely combatants if there is even a hint of a
fracture in the armour forged of constant battle. And the truth is, we are all flawed merely because
we fall into that exclusive domain of being human. We will make mistakes under pressure and
sometimes even without the pressure – life happens.

And yet, we can draw on Roosevelt’s speech from more than 100 years ago and which is just as
pertinent today:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where
the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the

Compassion is a rare and highly valuable commodity these days and yet its sharing has wondrous

Perhaps we can remove our collective feet from the throats of these young men and bring them
back into the mainstream as worthwhile citizens – the self-recrimination alone will provide indelible
learnings for those involved and the future returns of forgiveness will be undoubtedly rich.


What are the pressures you and your team face today?

How do you guard against ‘fatal’ breaches of your standards and values?

What are the critical conversations you need to have with your teams?

What is it that your team would never do to jeopardise your business?

What appreciative inquiries have you made?