sifting through the euphoria of the World Cup … lessons on leadership

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 !

About Neeraj Garg

Business builder, Change agent, Entrepreneurial professional, Growth seeker .... describe what I do at work. Personally, sometimes talkative and sometimes silent, sometimes completely engaged and sometimes completely detached. Observe and absorb at all times. Write infrequently, but write straight from the heart. Write spontaneously. Write on all things that peek my interest.
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5 Responses to sifting through the euphoria of the World Cup … lessons on leadership

  1. Nilesh Bhanushali says:

    Seeing young cricketers winning the precious cup is really a joy for all indians… but at the same time we should not forget the contribution of our class players of recent times like Vvery very special laxman, The wall darvid , Begal Tiger Sourav Ganguly, The Gr8 Kumble……Their presence in the team itself created sense of every one wants to be as solid as Dravid, an agressive like Sourav, and Special like Laxman…Cheer for Greatness of team india……


  2. Sanket Umredkar says:

    Hi Neeraj
    It’s true that we always take routes which are tried & tested ..we are afraid of taking new route ….taking the new route & challenging the odds differentiates a person from the mass…Dhoni showed the same as he promoted himself the order instead of the tried & tested Yuvraj…..This World Cup in a way has taught us so many lessons that we can follow in our day to day life….
    Cheers Indian Team !!!! for bringing new dimension & hope in our life.


  3. santosh ojha says:

    Hi Neeraj
    Your observation is having good reason to build the leadership.
    Yesterday Dhoni displayed the traits of true leadership ,in one of the run chasing ball he was about to loose his cool but he displayed the disciplined self restraint.Self control,renunciation and charisma are not personal but of divine in the leader. The values of the team members were displayed each members created positive dispositions,common purpose approach ,commitment ,communication,consultative ,confident,and above all Karma to perform was seen.
    Synthesis of right consciousness with supreme objective to bring Cup after 28 years was accomplished.
    We have to establish the habit of leadership.


  4. kapil minocha says:

    I believe the match epitomizes of the single most powerful theory….No risk….no return.
    I also think that Dhoni was also lucky (fortune favors the brave) but undoubtedly the man can elevate when chips are down.
    He is also blessed to have Tendulkar and Gary Kirsten around him which not only protect his natural genome of calmness but append to this very critical quality.
    What I think singularly of his great strength from management point of view is ability to delegate….bowling to Zak, fielding with Yuvi and critical inputs from Sachin and Bhajji.
    Ability to listen to others is also a great virtue so that u carry the team along with you and not force them to follow you.

    I would also like to mention another Maverick leader in this world cup….Shahid Afridi…the man comes from the most notorious area in the world and for me he proves the best theory…Survival of the fittest….he is a Pathan and has genetic blessing to fight and fight like a lion. If courage is a quality that is essential then personally I think he takes the cake. (Not that Dhoni is any less courageous…but one needs to give the man what is rightly due to him)


  5. Shailesh says:

    Hi Neeraj
    Super … Quite motivating and nice …If you would have noticed Dhoni’s eyes when he came out to bat,one couldn’t just miss the determination he walked on the pitch.

    I was sure when I saw those eyes and as they followed as the ball crossed over the rope for a six -the final assault.



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