The World Cup extravangaza got over yesterday, in a manner that swelled 1.2 billion peoples’ chest in pride. A lot has been written and talked about the World Cup already. The last 2 matches obviously generated the maximum interest, with all kinds of comments about the Pakistanis and our match with them. There were hilarious comparisons with the Ramayan and the match with Sri Lanka. If Sachin was Sita, Dhoni was Laxman !
With so much ink having been spent on this topic, or nowadays, so many keys having been punched, I thought about last nights’ match in my 2 hr drive back from Karjat and wondered to myself……is there a perspective that I would like to share, and that might not have been captured already ? And perhaps there is …
I have often used examples of Sachin and his style of playing Cricket to illustrate a management idea to my team, but I think there are some great lessons on leadership to be learnt from Dhoni, and how he led Team India in this World Cup.
When Dhoni stepped out to bat at the fall of Virat Kohli’s wicket, it was the perfect example of a leader leading from the front. When the chips are down, and the team is in the battlefield, the General has to be up there, fighting in the front, leading the charge. Dhoni did just that.
Every player, and leader, goes through ups and downs. A true leader is one who continues to believe in himself, even when others are in doubt. Some might call this bravado, I call it courage. A true leader looks for a large platform to prove himself; the bigger the stage, the louder his voice. A true leader is not afraid of failing. Nobody demonstrated this better than Dhoni when he came into bat ahead of Yuvi.
“No chance, no dance” is one of my favourite phrases. Leadership is about taking risk. The meek will not lead, or inherit this world. Leadership rests easy on the head which is willing to walk the road less travelled, or walk down a one-way in the wrong direction. Dhoni shocked everyone when he selected Nehra for the semi-finals, he put his own reputation at stake when he expressed confidence in Nehra. Choosing Ashwin was easy; nobody would have blamed him for it, even if India lost the match. In this move, he also exhibited great trust in his players. I believe his actions would have actually increased Ashwin’s confidence also; everyone wants to be a part of a team in which the leader is willing to stand up for the players.
Sreeshant sprayed the ball all over, and let his emotions get the better of him. In the midst of this all, Dhoni stood calmly, but raging inside for sure. I can imagine the words Dhoni might have used on Sreeshant later, but on the ground, he did not say a word to him. Mr Cool, has a great quality, which many leaders (including myself don’t have), he seems calm in the most high pressure situations.
When Gambhir played a few silly shots, what did Dhoni walk over to him and say: “Out nahin hona !”. Immediate feedback. Simple, yet effective. This is the hallmark of good leaders … simple, direct and timely communication … no bullshit.
In the post-match interview, Shastri asked Dhoni about his batting …. and he answered, with a touch of humour…. “he needed to answer the questions that were going to be asked about his choice of Sreeshant and the change in the batting order” 🙂 The ability to laugh at oneself, is definitely a sign of confidence, but also makes the leader human.
We might pray to God, but we walk behind a human. Gandhi was not God, but we walked behind him.
Sachin might be God, but we walk behind Dhoni !