(Yes, this is sort of about Jacques Kallis – for those who know cricket, or Jacques, see previous post on this issue).
The Dilbert Principle refers to a 1990s satirical theory stating that companies should promote their worst employees to managerial positions so as to prevent them from directly affecting the consumer’s experience. (source: wikipedia). Yes, its satire, but one of the most common mistakes that companies make is to promote a high flying talented staff member to the next level up, and not give them the training or support required to make the transition properly.
In “The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company“, by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, James Noel (Buy it at Amazon.com or Kalahari.net), they argue that one of the biggest failures in developing leaders is to not help a leader to change his/her frameworks/mindsets when they move from one level in the organisation to another. So, in a school, its common to promote a good teacher to be head of subject or head of department. In this role, they must train other teachers and have inputs at curriculum development and teaching style level. Do they get adequately equipped for this? Then, if they’re a good HOD, they get promoted to deputy head of school, where they become administrative and HR focussed. Finally, they could get to Head of School, where they may take on parent interactions, PR, media, admin and technology issues, and never teach again. Maybe we should promote our worst teachers to administrators!
The same can be true in businesses. One of the keys to identify and develop the new skills required at the new leadership level. (This could and should be a key role for the good HR/HRD department). To do so, requires these leaders to intimately know their own strengths and weaknesses, and not be ego-obsessed in their acknowledgements of the same. Probably the best book of recent times on this issue was Markus Buckingham’s “Now Develop Your Strengths” (Buy it at Amazon.com or Kalahari.net).
This doesn’t only happen in business (and schools, and churches and government…). It happens in sport as well. As I have argued many times before, Jacques Kallis, one of the greatest cricketers of his era, is currently the top rated all rounder in the world (Andrew Flintoff might argue that fact just at the moment, but so be it). Yet, as a one-day cricketer, he is pathetic. For more details on his recent form – see my previous post. But it isn’t just a form thing. Jacques seems incapable of adapting his game to the shorter version of cricket. He is a legend in the 5-day version. But “promote” him to one days and Pro20, and he just doesn’t have what it takes. But such is his reputation at the other level, that no-one dare whisper that he might need to be dropped from the one day team.
Today, Kallis played in the second World XI vs Australia ICC series. As a bowler, he was a disgrace. He was given 2 overs and got pelted for 20 runs. True, he was bowling during one of the power plays, but it looked shocking. Then, with his team chasing 329 to win, his opening pair got off to a flier, going at nearly 8 an over for the first 16 overs! With a second wicket going down, Jacques sloped out, totally destroying the momentum of the innings, and contriving to run out his partner, Sangakkara, who was on 61 off just 44 balls at the time. A while later he got himself run out, for a pathetic 11 off of 25 balls!! Unbelieveable. Do they have the guts to drop him? I doubt it, but they should! (See match figures here). (For those who think I’m overstating this, or that Kallis is just going through a slump – see some comments below).
How long do carry someone who isn’t producing the goods? Is it a disgrace to get someone to so focus on what they do brilliantly that they become legendary world class at it? Is it not time to admit that talented people may need to stay at their current level, and be better rewarded and incentivised to carry doing that one thing they’re genius at?
So, stop promoting sales people to managers, and managers to Executives. Not without fully knowing whether they’ll be any good at making the transition to their new role.
Additional comments on Kallis
For those who think I’m overstating this, or that Kallis is just going through a slump, let me quickly analyse his 2004/2005 contribution to SA ODI’s (batting only). He played 12 games during this season for SA – the Eng in SA and SA in WI series (I exclude his dismal Pro20 domestic series, as well as his horrible own benefit year games). See the stats guru at Cricinfo to verify.
Here’s how he faired:
1. 30 Jan 2005 against England – 5 from 26 balls (OK, SA were all dismal, but he was rotten) – game lost.
2. 2 Feb – 63 off 78 balls, batting second chasing down 270 – game tied (this is one of my strong arguments – if he DOES bat well, its usually in the second innings of a game we don’t win – see below, point 13).
3. 4 Feb – 3 off 12 balls, batting second chasing down 267 (game won)
4. 6 Feb – 71 off 97, batting first. Not bad, but probably a bit slow in the circumstances (Gibbs got 100 off 115 and Kemp got 57 off 36). Game won.
5. 9 Feb – 49 off 53 balls. OK, can’t complain about this one. A few wickets fell quickly, and he did well to consolidate. The total got to 311, so maybe even in context, he was a bit slow. Game won.
6. 11 Feb – 0 off 1.
7. 13 Feb – 36 off 60 balls, batting second chasing 240. The game won in the last over – should have been much earlier! He put serious pressure on the other players.
8. 7 May, vs West Indies – 51 off 68 balls not out, chasing 253 to win. Easy game, and he coasted in. Fair enough – that’s the point. He has oodles of talent, but never plays like a one day player in one day situations!! When he has test conditions, and no one day stroke maker pressure, he can be sublime.
9. 8 May – 7 off 18, batting second chasing 152 (reduced to 124 off 33 overs, D/L method). Game won.
10. 87 off 109 balls, batting first. In the context of Dippenaar 123 off 129 balls, Kallis played a good anchor role, but probably too slow in total of 284. Game would have been lost if not for Langeveldt’s awesome bowling of 5-62, including a last ball wicket with WI on 283!! With Dippenaar really going for it, Kallis should have joined in. he took up too many balls.
11. 14 May – 17 off 25 balls, chasing 231. Game won.
12. 15 May – reduced to 20 over game. SA chasing dismal 138, Kallis comes in at 3 and hits 18 off 24 balls (compare to openers Smith: 30 off 25, and Dippenaar 61 off 47, and only other batsmen that game: Kemp 8 off 8 and Boucher 16 off 12 — was he playing on a different wicket or something?)
Against one of the weakest WI teams of all time, Kallis was ordinary at best!
You go back into 2004 season to see Jacques’ last century in ODI’s. It was (unsurprisingly) not impressive. here’s why:
13. 31 Aug 2004, vs Sri Lanka. 101 off 127 balls, chasing 308. Game LOST!
So, you know you’re chasing down over 6 runs an over from ball one. You come in the third over after Gibbs is out (6 off 10 balls). The next guy comes in on over 12 – hardly a collapse – but he’s a new guy. And you put all the pressure on poor Rudolph by batting slowly and playing anchor. Are you nuts? In this innings, his 50 came off 69 balls. His 100 in 123 balls. Why no speeding up, especially when Rudolph was having a tough time on the other end? In the end, we lost by 49 runs – hardly even close! A century in a second innings of an ODI, when you lose, is absolutely useless.