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Talent Meets Opportunity: The AB de Villiers Story!

There may be an AB de Villiers in your team, but he hasn’t got an opportunity to show what he is capable of! Give him a chance, please. Don’t focus only on your established stars. Give talent an opportunity.

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The IPL season is here! Time to enjoy the daily fix of nail-biting excitement. Time also to take a leaf out of the book of one of the biggest stars of the IPL. The man they call AB de Villiers!

There's an interesting little story that AB shares in his autobiography which holds a valuable lesson for leaders. Even if you are not a cricket fan, it's a story you must hear. A story of two men. de Villiers. And French.

AB says there were several people who had a hand in his development as a cricketer. His parents, his coaches, and senior cricketers notably Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher - all of whom had a strong influence on AB. And there was one other name in that list, not quite as well known. Francois Geldenhuys. The man they called 'French'. AB says that French was the guy who backed him when he was most in need. The man who had a pivotal influence on AB's life and career. So what exactly did French do?

Flashback then to the year 2000. French was captain of the North Transvaal team in a local inter-school tournament. AB was in that team, and the coach had put him down to bat at No. 7. French spoke to the coach and said AB should be given a chance to open the innings. The coach agreed, even if somewhat reluctantly. AB grabbed the opportunity with both hands, and scored a century. That hundred resulted in AB getting picked in the South Africa Colts team. And he then got picked for the South Africa schools team a year later, and so on. And on.

Which begs the question. Would AB have made that kind of progress had French not spoken up? What might have happened had AB been left to languish down the order? We'll never know.

But as AB himself says, what we do know is that there are several exceptionally talented sportsmen and women out there who never get to realize their full potential, who languish in obscurity simply because they don't get a chance to show off their skills and capabilities. AB got his chance, because someone spoke up. And that made all the difference.

That's true for sport. And for business and life too. For every rising star we hear of in the corporate world, there are several others - equally talented, as capable - who unfortunately don't get a chance to prove their worth. Success is not just about talent. It's about talent and opportunity. When talent meets opportunity, history gets made.

If you think about it, you will see that your own success, your achievements in life, are thanks to a mentor or a boss who took a chance on you and gave you a break. A break that allowed you to show what you were really all about. Maybe they made you an Area Sales Manager - even when there were other more experienced candidates, and people were saying you weren't ready for it. Or perhaps someone promoted you out-of-turn to Vice President to head a business which you then rapidly grew. So even as you take pride in your talents and your achievements, take a moment to thank the men and women who gave you that opportunity.

And now it's your turn to return the favour. Take a bet on raw talent. Bet on unripe fruit.

If you are a team leader secretly wishing you had an AB de Villiers in your team, you need to pause and think. Maybe there is already an AB in the team - but he hasn't got an opportunity to show what he is capable of! Give him a chance, please. Don't focus only on your established stars. Give talent an opportunity.

As a leader - and star performer - you might wish you were an AB de Villiers: scoring runs, dazzling fans and winning games. But really, you owe it to yourself to be a French. Become the kind of person who gives the young ABs in the team the opportunities to show their mettle.

As you sit back and watch an IPL game on your telly screen tonight, enjoy the fireworks from AB De Villiers. But spare a thought for French too. He made a difference. He gave talent an opportunity.

You should, too

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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AB de Villiers IPL 2017 talent human resources

Prakash Iyer

Iyer is an author, speaker and leadership coach , and former MD of Kimberly Clark Lever

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