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Walsh: Lara had leadership qualities from the start

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Former West Indies and international cricket legend, Ambassador Courtney Walsh signs autographs for students at The Cascadia Hotel, St Ann's, after his address themed “It Always Seems Impossible Until It's Done” which is the theme for the four-day leadership symposium hosted by The Sports Desk. Photo: ANDRE ALEXANDER

Former West Indies captain and international cricket legend Courtney Walsh said he saw leadership qualities in Brian Charles Lara long before the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) realised Lara’s ability to take the helm of the regional squad.


“My first vice-captain when I went on tour was Brian Lara. When Brian went on that particular tour, the board would not have named him vice-captain, but it was my vision that he was going to be leader of the West Indies team and we took that responsibility of appointing him vice-captain on my first tour of India (in 1996). And I’m proud to say that he became one of our great leaders,” he said.


Walsh added: “Leadership is about vision and art of getting colleagues around this vision. This would sometimes seem impossible, especially in the battles of human will. However, it always seems impossible until it’s done. 


“This was the desire of West Indies captains including one of the best batsmen I have ever seen—Brian Charles Lara. 


“There are many theories on leadership and they have identified different types of leadership, but today especially as we journey through Lent, I want to focus on servant leadership.”


Walsh was speaking at yesterday’s opening of the 15th annual Sport Desk Leadership Symposium held at the ballroom at the Cascadia Hotel and Conference Centre, St Ann’s, Port-of-Spain, with the theme “It Always Seems Impossible Until It’s Done.”


Walsh’s admiration of Lara comes a year after Lara delivered the keynote address at the Sport Desk and also hailed Walsh as an exceptional team leader.


At the four-day mentorship conference, Walsh said being able to see the results of the good fortune he had being able to stand on the shoulders of cricketing giants like Joel Garner, Clive Lloyd, Sir Gary Sobers, Sir Andy Roberts and Sir Curtly Ambrose.


He went on to define the leadership style he adopted was that of a servant. On reflection, he was of the opinion that was the type of leadership he practised—servant leadership, which emphasised the leaders’ role and encouraged leaders to serve others while staying focused on achieving results in line with the theme of organisations, values and integrity.


“A servant leader looks to the needs of the people and asks himself how he can help them solve problems and promote personal development, places his main focus on people because only content and motivated people will be able to reach their targets and be able to fulfil set expectations,” Walsh said.


“As team captain my aim was to always ensure that my teammates were 100 per cent, not only physically on the field but mentally and emotionally as well, to ensure they were motivated and ready to give their all to gain victory, not only for the team but for the West Indian people. Your vision must be for a greater good.


“As young adults, maybe sometimes your vision for the future is a big house in the right neighbourhood or a shiny car. 


“But for great servant leaders our vision has to be for more than just merely the material things in life. I have found that when we focus on leading for the greater good the material things will come. Your purpose as leaders must be a blessing to society. This will give you the energy and the means to persist. 


“But remember, it always seems impossible until it’s done. Not everyone will support your vision. I have learnt that there will always be that one team member, that one person in any organisation, that does not share the vision of the team or the captain.”


Realising he had struck the right chord with the teen audience, which numbered 400, Walsh described them as success stories for the future, be it a Prime Minister, CEO of the WICB or captain of the West Indies team.


The invitation to deliver the feature address at the Sport Desk, he said, caused him to reflect on his leadership in the past, some of which was good and some not so good.


Walsh added, “It was never easy bowling to the great batsmen of my time. Each ball was, however, an opportunity to get that wicket, and for each opportunity hammered for a six or four or even a single, there was the thought that the next one would get the scalp and would get that 80-year-old grandmother watching the series at home in Jamaica, or anywhere in the Caribbean, to jump out of her seat and rejoice. 


“That’s the glory days of West Indies cricket.”


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