Leadership lessons from cricket captains

Just saw Dhoni hit a sixer on the last ball vs KKR in IPL 6, rising to the occasion and delivering the goods when required. Have been inspired to put together a short list of leadership lessons that one could learn from cricket captains (am sure that the same would apply to other team sports, possibly, in a different manner).

  1. Picking the right team and then trusting them 100% – nowhere seen better than in cricket when captains are seen backing some good people, even when chips are down for such players for a few matches. Ganguly backing Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj in tough days, Dhoni doing the same for Raina and Jadeja.
  2. Letting better team members perform more than oneself when required – Dravid dropping himself down the order when only 2-3 overs are left in an IPL game, or Ponting dropping himself off completely from the side when he’s unable to perform too well for Mumbai Indians (reminded me of Douglas Jardine in “Bodyline” series, when he had offered to drop himself since he had been unable to get many runs in the previous matches. It’s a different matter that his team members told him that he should be included only as a fielder since he does that so well).
  3. Leading from the front – No better example than Dhoni, who has delivered always whenever it mattered the most. There have been innumerable occasions when he has held the innings together. Or come at the end to hit some lusty shots out of the park.
  4. Envisioning and Managing change – Saurav Ganguly comes to mind when he decided to effect a positive attitudinal shift in the Indian cricket team. Coaxing players to “play to win rather than play NOT TO lose”, countering on-field posturing, attacking the ball while fielding, was a tough set of lessons for a team full of stars. The change was painful, but the result has been momentous for Indian cricket. (It was ironical that Ganguly lost his place in the team as part of the change when Greg Chappel was hired to complete the attitudinal shift, and he ended up having Ganguly removed).
  5. Being authentic and transmitting ethics : Steve Waugh, who arguably led one of the best cricketing sides ever, was a genuine team player and was an authentic leader. He led with his heart, while retaining the self-discipline required for excellence in team sports. In later years, he also showed his concern for society at large and inspired his team members to become better human beings, by working for various causes of charity for the poor.

And this is just part of the list…learnings are waiting…to be picked from all avenues…

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