Former England cricket captain Andrew Strauss has said it’s “good to have conflict” in a team, following revelations of heated arguments and allegations of bullying in the England dressing room.
Speaking to LondonlovesBusiness.com, the former batsman said it was a myth that successful teams got on well behind the scenes.
“Sometimes I think there’s this myth that all teams need to get on brilliantly, a kind of Waltons myth – that you need to be like the Waltons if you want to perform well as a team – but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” the sportsman said.
“You actually want a degree of conflict at times – you want people to feel comfortable enough to say their opinion.
“Conflict is a good thing as long as it’s well-meaning and it’s all coming from a starting point of ‘how do we get better and how do we improve?’ ” he added.
The comments came after Strauss’ former teammate Kevin Pietersen released an explosive autobiography this week describing his experience of “mocking, ridicule and bullying” in the England dressing room.
However, other members of the team at the time, such as former bowler Graham Swann, have rubbished the claims.
Strauss has kept tight-lipped about specific allegations – he has a deal with a Sunday newspaper – but said in hindsight, knowing what he knows now about leadership, he would have treated team members differently.
“I think I would have spent a bit more time understanding the different personality types we had in the team,” he said.
“You feel like if you treat everyone the same, then at least everyone thinks it’s fair, but actually we’re all unique and you need to be treated differently.”
However, he added that teammates should be ousted when it becomes clear they are working to their own benefit, rather than to the benefit of the team.
“You want [team members]to be very united by a common purpose, and my philosophy was that as long as people were moving in the right direction, as long as they weren’t undermining our team environment, then I’d like to work with anyone. If they are undermining the team environment it’s a problem.”
He said he had no problem with leading people with strong personalities, as long as egos didn’t get in the way.
“You want strong personalities in a team, especially in international cricket where people are under a lot of pressure.
“You want people who are not going to be inhibited by that pressure and are actually going to stand up and perform when you need them to, so you need guys with a bit of something about them in order to do that.”
Read our full interview with Strauss where he talks about businesspeople he admires and gives his advice on leadership.