In the aftermath of the Australian Swimming Team’s damning performance report after the 2012 Olympics, we now have the British Badminton leadership under the spotlight. It comes with five times National Champion Jenny Wallwork announcing her retirement from the sport. With the finger being firmly pointed at the leadership of her sport.
Jenny pulls no punches when he describes her lack of confidence in those at the top. The 26-year-old aimed a series of strong criticisms at performance director Jens Grill.”There wasn’t one positive thing actually said to me from the performance director. I think the sport is being led by people who have a vision and unfortunately have no interest in what the athletes think. That’s the biggest problem.
“We thought we were moving forward positively”. “The performance director doesn’t know the players well, he doesn’t know us individually.”He’s the one dictating the situations and the scenarios between partnerships and he knows nothing about us.”
If this is true then it makes one question the values by which Jens Grill operates. The Performance Director’s role is to support the players and maximise their talent, not leave them feeling undervalued and not understood.
In the desire to get things right, leaders can often try to do too much. A leadership psychology can be formed, that suggests that the leader leads exclusively from the front, but in doing so neglects those they are leading.
A vision and a strategy can be formed that may look outstanding on paper, but fails to take into account the needs of all in the organisation or team.
The leader feels they are being strong and single-minded, but inside the organisation, people are quietly simmering about the direction the leader is taking them. And thus a dis-connection occurs, whereby the people follow the leader reluctantly, and performance suffers.
The struggling leader can’t understand why the people aren’t delivering, and generally fails to look at their own leadership traits, to discover why this mis-alignment has arisen. A blame game develops, which naturally worsens relations between team and leader, and then cliques develop. Fundamentally, it becomes US v Them.
It may well be that Jenny Wallwork’s high-profile retirement, marks the beginnings of a reflective process inside British Badminton that resolves the leadership issues she so strongly highlighted.
If the leadership don’t heed the lessons, then it is unlikely that much will change in British Badminton. And that is a failure of leadership.