Some people you meet or some events in life leave an ever-lasting impact on your journey. This series is a collection of events or meetings that happened in my life that helped shape not only my career but helped me develop a personality as well. Let us start with the most recent event, that had stunned the cricketing world – India’s victory over Australia in Gabba. It is by no means is a small achievement, given the team was in dungeons and highly inexperienced.
I was shown the picture of the Indian team celebrating with the trophy and was asked what do I see in this picture. My responses were grit, hard work, determination, and so on. But in retrospection, my response should have been a calm and composed leader who is composed by the side and led the side with distinction and determination.
To put the situation in perspective, the team had lost the match in one of the most humiliating fashion and a stand-in captain whose own form has been patchy comes in. The team fights back in a resilient way to win the Melbourne Test. It was written as off as a flash on the pan. The team was down and almost out in the Sydney test, 2 players with a torn hamstring and sore back fought 2 sessions to save the match for the team. Gabba was hyped up so much that the Aussie captain tried playing mind games with the batsmen to unsettle them warning them what’s awaiting them at Gabba. Indians lost 2 key bowlers for the Gabba test and the comparison of wickets were 1033 wickets(Aussies) Vs 13(Indians – 2 Debuts). A resounding victory on Day 5 surprised and shocked many around the world.
All praises were deservedly reserved forplayers like Jadeja, the 3-D player, Ashwin and Vihari for that fighting match-saving defensive masterclass, Pujara for all those body blows and patience, Pant for his fearlessness, Siraj for his maturity and bowling, and debutants in Gabba who showed to signs of nervousness. Amidst, all this one man was not much in the limelight much like his character I believe, Rahane. Remember, Ajinkya Rahane, the stand-in captain, who not so long ago was sacked as the captain of an IPL team and was traded to a different team. His place on the side was in question as well. His leadership skills went a little unnoticed and in my view, it is in fact a leadership crash course that had a lasting impact on me.
His leadership left the following impression on me which I believe is key for any leader of an organization looking to build a successful organization.
Humility: Across the series, one aspect that was on display consistently was that there were many leaders in the team. Captain sought out others who could help and his words own words ‘Take responsibility but enjoy it without pressure’ brought confidence amongst players like Pujara and Ashwin. Despite being injured seniors were ever-present in the dugout and sending out tips and enjoyed their role leading to the success of the team. Identifying leaders, giving them responsibility, and allowing them to execute without pressure makes a world of difference in their output. It gives them the license to fail and learn rather than being scrutinized on a regular basis.
There is no respect for others without humility in one’s self. – Henri Frederic Amiel
Emotional Intelligence and Control: I am a big fan of Ajinkya’s style of leadership (much in Dhoni’s style). Many catches were dropped by either side especially Indian fielders who dropped a few dollies. It is true that catches win matches but getting over your mistakes and backing of the leader could galvanize the side. The leader of the pack sets the tone for the team and it does reflect on their performance. The leader of the group should be emotionally intelligent to understand and manage not only their emotions but that of others around them as well. It is said that Ajinkya asked Ashwin to be less bothered about his batting failures and focus on his bowling when Ashwin was hard on himself for his failures. This reflected not only on his bowling but also on his batting in Sydney.
“Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.” ~ Dalai Lama. Thus has been Rahane’s impression on me in handling an inexperienced team to instill confidence amongst the teammates and to achieve the unimaginable. His captaincy is a good leadership lesson for any budding leader to be successful.
Up Next: Management lessons from India’s victory in Australia.