Last week the NZ Olympic Team hit it first real bump in the 2012 campaign. From all accounts, no matter which way you turned the NZ effort at the London games was firing on all cylinders. It even had undertones of national fervour we experienced during the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The bump as I have described it, was the non entry of Val Adams into the women's shot put, actually it involved about 7 of our athletes, not that that fact was obvious watching and listening to the mainstream media. I don't want to get on the case of NZ Olympic officials and surmise as to what effect this had or didn't have on Val not winning gold. Other than to say an Olympic silver is nothing to be sneezed at.
I am more interested in this issue from a leadership perspective and in particular the actions of the NZ Chef de Mission, Dave Currie. From the outset let me say I think Dave Currie has in recent games, olympic and commonwealth has done a fantastic job in building a real sense of 'team' amongst the huge range of sporting disciplines represented at these events. However when he publicly announced and named that it was long time athletic volunteer who was responsible for entering said athletes, it was in my opinion a lapse in leadership, that should have been owned by Dave Currie publicly.
I was reminded of a quote from leadership expert and American pastor Andy Stanley, on the topic of how staff should act and behave in order to ensure positive organisational messages are portrayed. Andy says we should be raving fans publicly and honest critics privately. While this situation is a little different it does have similarities. Publicly speaking Dave Currie is the leader of the NZ Olympic team and should accept total responsibility for what goes wrong. Ultimately it was a human error and therefore a system issue, which is something Dave should have anticipated. Either way as far as the public is concerned it was Dave Currie's responsibility to ensure those admin functions were executed correctly. Giving the mainstream media the name of a long serving (30 years) volunteer they could harass was a leadership mistake, that considering his experience could have been avoided.
What should have he done? He should have been a raving fan about his team, backed the individuals without using names and then behind close doors he should have been an honest critic of their performance. Was this an easiest track to follow? No. It was however the correct path to go down though.