From The Crucibles of
As a student of Leadership, I follow the continuous debate on MS Dhoni with great interest. While theories on Leadership abound, with a personality like Dhoni, the discussion becomes even more intriguing and exciting.
The recent two test wins over Australia have brought in a lot of praise for him. At the same time raised more debates ….. now of the type ‘Is Dhoni more successful than Saurav ?’ Can there be a comparison with Gavaskar of the 80s ? ….. and so on ….. While some of these may not be valid, as eras and circumstances have changed a lot, others may also be of a speculative nature.
But one thing is certain ….. Dhoni definitely HAS built further on the successes of earlier giants. Also, when he took over as captain the team had really strong players like Sachin, Sehwag, Dravid, Laxman, Harbhajan et al. And to sustain and build further on existing strengths is surely VERY VERY CREDITABLE !!
A study on successful Indian CEOs, conducted a few years back, highlighted key characteristics exhibited by these people in various business situations. It is quite relevant in this discussion due to commonality of Indian mindsets, social contexts, ecosystem etc.. The ones that I want to bring up, are those characteristics that were displayed in ‘Improving a business’ situations. I list these below for comparisons with our hero of the day :
Maturity : Emotional wisdom to respond to others and embody the aspirations of the organization. Captain Cool is calm and composed in both praise and criticism, describing these as being ephemeral. In a country where emotions run extreme, he maintained the same equanimity after World Cup wins and defeats in England and Australia.
Transcending Self & Inner Strength : Courageous dedication to the super-ordinate goals; doing what is right and what will make India great. We’ve seen him exhibiting ‘edge’ ….. an ability to face reality and to champion tough decisions.
Driving Change : Leading the organization to implement and embed sustainable change. Enough evidence in decisions related to strategy and people.
High Energy Team Leadership : Inspiring and protecting the team, enabling excellent team performance. His inspiration to the team and ability to lead by example. Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Bhuvneswar Kumar, Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteswar Pujara and Praveen Kumar all flowered under him.
Ownership and Empowerment with Accountability : Delegating authority to allow others to act with purpose and accountability. In extremely testing circumstances, Dhoni has come up with brilliant performances himself and has also empowered the team and youngsters with enough confidence and a free hand.
Networking & Organisational Awareness : Reaching out to an extensive network for ideas and problem-solving; understanding how things get decided and done in a particular organization. He sure has found his way around very gracefully and effectively.
Stakeholder Influence : Using customized strategies to influence specific stakeholders. In his own way, with poise and equanimity, we see his influence creating magic.
A good point to keep in mind though, is that leaders are human beings. So if Dhoni had a bad patch in 2011-12 against England and Australia, it is quite normal.
Leaders can slip, leaders can make mistakes, leaders have bad days, leaders change their minds, leaders are you and me. Good leaders are ordinary people who want to get better than ordinary results. They are not happy with getting by because they know that the world is constantly changing, evolving and what worked yesterday might not work today. Dhoni, in 2013, has come out of the 2011-12 spell. From having become reactive and defensive, he reinvented himself as a skipper and player, to become a lot more expressive.
Leaders are on an adventure with an uncertain future. Leaders are not better than followers, leaders are not gods, gurus or prophets. We shouldn’t put them on a pedestal and worship them, for two reasons ….. (1) they will forget what it’s like in the real world and a leader living in yesterday’s world is a train wreck waiting to happen (2) it stops us, the rest of us, from trusting ourselves and doing the hard work .
In short we all need to be ordinary people who work together to get better than ordinary results ….. like this boy from Ranchi has demonstrated !!
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