The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 just ended with an ‘edge of the seat’ thriller and I thought it would be fair to write a column highlighting some essential leadership lessons that one could learn from the coolest captains in office. These are skills of a different kind – not found in any of the Management books. But they guarantee success!
The spotlight in this column will be on the leadership traits of two of the coolest captains that international cricket has ever seen – MS Dhoni and Kane Williamson. Both of them belong to different worlds, with totally different trainings and upbringing- yet have a stark resemblance to the way they have led their teams to successful wins in big tournaments or to top rank in ICC (International Cricket Council) Rankings.
Let us see what is their secret sauce:
- Stay cool, calm and collective – This one is a rare trait. We have seen the best of leaders losing their cool and crumbling under pressure. The leaders who stay calm and cool in the toughest of situations are the ones who emerge as the most successful. Staying collective is also essential, especially when you are having a bad day at office. This will help you think logically and take the right decision in critical situations.
- Manage egos – When you work across hierarchies or across multiple teams, this one comes in handy. Dhoni led a team of senior cricketers successfully. He let them play their usual game and leveraged their strengths to his advantage. Likewise, people management across hierarchies and teams is a very important skill set. A good leader is the one who can leverage the strengths of his team to achieve favorable results
- Take failure in your stride – It is obvious that everything cannot be as per our wishes. There will be failures. As a good leader, one needs to be able to take failures in their stride, bounce back and keep up the morale of his/her team. A recent example that one can learn from is the way Kane Williamson handled defeat in the World Cup final. He kept his chin up and was ever so graceful even in defeat. He won millions of hearts globally because of his calm and composed demeanor. The secret is to never give up. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!
- Always support and empower your team – A good leader always backs his team. He trusts his team members and believes that they will deliver what they have been asked to. This translates to responsibility and a team with all members aligned to the leader’s goal. It was a great and well aligned team that powered India to many big wins like the Cricket World Cup in 2011, under the leadership of Dhoni
- Lead from the front – As a leader, one needs to lead from the front and take challenges head-on. There are numerous examples of innings where MS Dhoni and Kane Williamson have single handedly snatched victory for their team
- Take risks, be experimental and versatile – It is a good to be agile and versatile. Being receptive of change and having the ability to adapt to different situations is a trait that works very well in today’s VUCA world. As a good leader, one needs to adapt change easily and also be open to experimentation. There are numerous situations when MS Dhoni has taken calculative risks that have won him finals or turned the game in his favour in the last over (examples include picking the most unexpected bowler for the last over or promoting himself up the batting order). Taking calculative risks can be to your advantage.