Yes, I am a fan!
This post was written for ‘Lessons Learned from Indians’, a unique initiative by Krish Murali Eswar. Their motto is to ‘Share Your Lessons Learned in Life with the World so that Others Learn from Your Life’. Corporates run innumerable leadership and team management programs, but I am not sure the source from which MS Dhoni draws his lessons on Team Management! I wonder, whether BCCI sends him to those ‘Leadership Programs’ or asks him to read Harvard Business Review or articles by Guy Kawasaki. Or is it just his innate understanding of human nature that makes him one of the best leaders around. Why do we look upto any other person? There has to be some qualities which set that person apart from others.
After winning the ICC World Cup 2015 quarter-finals match against Bangladesh, he said in an interview.
‘…Seeing it (success of the bowlers) is one thing, believing it is something that’s more important because once you believe in something like that you keep working on it, the subconscious keeps working, and the good thing is it becomes part of the system…’
I marvel at the wisdom he shows whenever we hear him. Whatever be his source of wisdom, I think every manager/ leader should take a leaf out of his experience and steer their team to become top performers.
I am not going to discuss the cricket technicalities here, but the behavioral aspects of team management, which MSD displays on or off the field. These are purely my views as seen, heard and perceived through the body language of the Indian cricket players, throughout the ICC World Cup 2015 and could be applied to any walk of life.
Onto the lessons learned from our very own Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni…
Performance of the team is a leader’s responsibility – Take the flak for bad performance and let individuals take the appreciation for their contribution. This is the first hallmark of a great leader and MSD has always taken the blame on himself if the team doesn’t do well, resulting in a more confident team in the next match.
Handling pressure/ stress – A leader should never pass the pressure from the external sources to his team, in fact, he/ she should absorb the pressure. This particular aspect had been evident in all the matches. You would hardly see MSD scowling, shaking his head, or waving his hands on any bowler or fielder. Whenever they make a mistake, his body language conveys a kind of reassurance that forces team members to put in that extra effort the next time.
Show confidence in the team members no matter what – This is an important aspect for bringing out the best from the team. Throughout the pool matches, MSD had never stated anything adverse for any player, which could pull the morale down. He might be giving individual feedback to each one of them, but never in front of the media or in public.
Play to the strengths – During the ICC world cup press conferences, I heard all the players state that they knew what role they are playing and what their responsibilities are. That was apparent in all the matches that have been played, if one player faltered other stepped up to perform, making the wins a team effort.
Quoting MSD again, “The search for all-rounder has been there for last five years and we are still in search of one. So I decided whatever I don’t have, I won’t crib and what I have, I will make do with it.”
Involve the team – In the field, MSD keeps encouraging the bowlers, by taking their opinions on setting the field and by giving feedback on the batsman at the crease. The fielders are encouraged for every extra run saved.
The reason I felt worth mentioning these lessons because I have been observing these traits in him for the past so many years, so early in his life; the traits which others take a while to master and some are never able to imbibe these key qualities essential to be a great leader.
I wish MSD all the best for all his endeavors, hope he wins all matches for India, and keeps breaking record after record. One thing though I would like to tell him is to smile more often. ☺