Impressions: India’s Tour of Australia – Part 2 – Leadership Case Study

In the words of former India coach John Wright “You know coaching is tough and you make this team or that team, you are sometimes judged by the results. This is a tough assignment.” Coaching a high-profile team like Indian Cricket Team, Real Madrid, Manchester United, and Brazilian Football(soccer) team can take its toll. If you have second thoughts, ask the managers who were fired by Real Madrid or Chelsea to know how results have had an impact on their job. I thought coaching in cricket was all about only man-management but all of that changed post the impact that the Indian coaching team on their recent series victory over the Aussies.

Great Coaching is the GOLDEN KEY to improve and manage employee engagement

Know your opponents and do your homework: It is extremely important for the leadership to understand the opponents, know their strengths and weaknesses beforehand, and do their homework long before the game starts. You train by simulating situations and try to replicate your plans. This is exactly what the Indian team did, the coaching team analyzed the opponents and set the vision for the team to remove the off-side for the strongest batsmen of the Australians. The plan was well executed and the team won. This Laissez-Faire Leadership style has inspired great organizations. The leaders in the team set the vision and goals and trusted the team to execute their plans. The responsibilities were delegated and well defined with very little interference.

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their growth.” – John Whitmore

What to do when the chips are down: 36 all out, match ended in one session, and to top it captain is on paternity leave. In these tough times, it is very difficult to maintain a positive and pleasant environment. The leadership team was in prime focus and the pressure was on. The team management believed in their team, their skillset, and their values despite the presence of many inexperienced players in the team. The management team identified what was needed and worked on those gaps efficiently. They went on an attacking mode rather than going too defensive. Drawing parallels in the business world, a Coaching Style Leadership will ensure that the youngsters in the receive the much important confidence to work efficiently. It is also possible that some employees might feel micro-managed and the leaders need to know when to stop.

“A manager is a title, it does not guarantee success. Coaching is an action, not a title and actions will result in successes!” Catherine Pulsifer

Tough times demand tough talk: Fourth innings of the 3rd Test, India down, and mostly out. India managed to pull out a draw thanks to Ravi Ashwin(Sore back), Hanuma Vihari(Hamstring/loss of form), and Rishabh Pant(Place under scanner). 4th test was even worse considering the leaders of the attack were injured. It was seen as a battle between 1000+ wickets versus 13 wickets and add the threat of the much-hyped Gabba. The leaders played a key role in instilling belief and self-confidence among the members. The coaching staff should be appreciated for their strong Transformational Leadership that helped communicate a clear vision and strategy to the team. Ashwin and Bumrah despite being injured, helped the team from the sidelines. In organizations, transformational leaders pull their team of their comfort zone and push them to perform above and beyond. Ravi and his team were charismatic and transformational as they are skilled communicators, verbally eloquent, but also able to communicate to the team on a deep, emotional level.

The video explains why this victory means a lot to India and world cricket

There is not a set type of leadership style that works always. Good leaders know when and how to adapt their styles according to the situation. Though there are other forms of leadership styles, the above-mentioned styles of leadership is something I have seen exhibited by my mentors and leaders that have worked wonders for the organizations that I have been a part of. Sports has also seen autocratic leadership style in Greg Chappel, John Buchanan, who disturb the equilibrium and harmony of the side resulting in bad performances and results. It is a style that is highly detested and leaders need to have control of the organization but also ensure that they consult the right lieutenants to take a good decision.

Next Up: An immigrant family who are a smashing hit across the horizon.


Impressions: Australia 20-21 A Leadership Crash Course – Part 1

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.

Biggest Challenge

12 years of school education, 4 years of Engineering, 8 years of work and now, I am back to a campus life. Each day has been an experience so far ever since I graduated. Through all these years I have had the opportunity to meet different people from different walks of life and I have had the pleasure of learning from each and every one of them, good or bad.

Several people, several advices. Be like this, be like that. You do not have the handwriting of so and so, you are not studying like blah blah, you should become like that genius, You are not working like your colleague to deserve this appraisal so be like them. Our mind is a monkey(In tamil we say, manam oru kurangu) “One day I should be a good orator, next day I should be an artist and the next day I should be a great developer.” So many things go through your mind all at the same time.

Looking back at my life, a lot of times,  I have tried to live the lives of many friends and legends. I wanted to be a humorous like my best friend, I wanted to speak like AB Vajpayee ji, I wanted to get into music like my other friend, I wanted to be that guy who everyone goes for advice. This is not abnormal, many friends of mine have gone through the same.

Self-assurance and Self-realization has helped me over the years to appreciate who I am and understand where I need to improve upon. I have had good friends and people around me who have liked for who I am and helped me see why I should be ME. Being myself has given me more than what I have earned not being myself. There has been many a situations where my values were challenged, but I have stuck to mine.

Does that mean that you should not aspire or have goals? No, it is always good to have inspirations and leaders that you aspire you to be. Learn from people around you, what are their positives or negatives, know what suits you and adapt them to your needs. Find your niche and looks for ways to improve yourself in that stream. Trust me Being yourselves is the BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN ONE’s life. Sometimes, when you are not yourselves and do not follow your natural instincts you might struggle to do things that you can do with your eyes closed. Never lose your nativity and cultural values. All those were put in place for a purpose.

Always believe in yourselves and your abilities, leave the rest to the almighty. If you don’t succeed you will always have something to learn.

P.S: Pele: Birth of a Legend movie inspired me to write this post.

Ambiyum Nanum

Dear Readers,

Ever since I first learnt about the Delhi rape through NDTV, I have thinking about writing this blog which I wanted to write ages ago. Let me re-visit 2 instances that happened in my life that would make you understand my choice of this title. One fine day, I was travelling in the local train chatting with my friends. Suddenly one of my friends throws away the empty water bottle in the open and one of my other friend says with a smile on her face “How can you do such a thing in front of Karthi. He is a RULES guy”. Someone drives vehicle in an absurd manner, once again I get tagged as Ambi, the rules guy, for asking him to drive it properly.

What has this got to do with the Delhi case? A lot in my opinion. In normal circumstances when we are in no danger, we ignore the silly mistakes we do. But there is an apocalypse when something hard hits us. I see Facebook posts and Twitter posts arguing for capital punishments for rapists across the country, government’s inaction, support for the injured girl etc. But are we good enough to question the law? Are we good enough to question the government?

I just read in newspaper that in a North Eastern state, a woman was brutally raped in public view. She was not just a woman – she was a home maker, a mother of a 5 year old kid and the heart of a family. What were the onlookers doing there? Waiting for the government? Waiting for the Men in Khakhi? When we cannot come forward to protect our own neighbors, how can we expect someone miles away to do it? Though they hold the legal responsibility, don’t we have the moral responsibility.

One of my friend rightly put it on his Facebook post “Do not fight for just one girl; fight it out for all of them out there who are suffering.” It is us who have to stand up. We cannot expect a Anna Hazare or any freedom fighter of our choice to pop up every now and then to unite us for struggle. Whenever I question people for their laziness and excuses to silly mistakes, all I get is a sarcastic sorry with an Ambi tag on my forehead.

One of my sisters used to tell me to change as it would not help me win over people by talking rules all the time. She would also say jokingly that all people love only cool guys including “GIRLS”. But that does not bother me at all. I not worried that I cannot be a REMO. I seriously do not regret the AMBI in me but I do regret the fact that I cannot be an Anniyan to claw out the mistakes that people commit. Taking the law in our hands is also a crime.

Also you can choose to be whoever you want to be. Remo, Anniyan or Ambi.

Your’s faithfully,

Karthi (AMBI :P)

Guys Wake Up

An early February morning, I stirred awake from my slumber as my mom wakes me up. I stretched to rid the morning blues and yelled ,”2 more minutes ma”, so usual for most of us. As soon as I woke up , I gleaned out of the window to see if there really is daylight, after all , moms are notorious for their white lies to get their children out of the bed.It was too dark and I was too groggy. I yelled back at my mom for lying to me that it’s 7 in the morning when clearly not a ray of sunlight had hit the ground. And then she pointed to the clock, I manage to catch a glimpse of the big hand speeding past 3 and the small hand edging away from 7. It was 7 15. Darn it , another lie! It was not 7 but 7 15 indeed.

I had to get ready real fast with only half hour left to catch my bus. I step out of my house only to see mist and fog all over Chennai. The visibility was reduced to just 100 meters hardly. Our driver somehow managed to weave his way to my office in 2 hours. All over Facebook, I saw posts regarding the fog. To my surprise, all of them were ecstatic about how cool Chennai was and how it was becoming more like Bangalore or Ooty.

It was shocking for me to see such posts from my friends and acquaintances! Illiteracy can be accepted but not ignorance. Things are changing and it’s not for the best. Our beloved Mother Nature has had enough of her awesome children, she is ready to teach us a lesson. She has realized that ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ is indeed true. It is time we understood that our mother is getting old. Just as we take care of our elders, we need to take care of our Mother Nature who is unfortunately in the Intensive Care Unit. Children of the earth , WAKE UP!

10 Simple things we can do:

  1. Walk to distance with 1 KM.
  2. Shop local.
  3. Use more of Public transport.
  4. Car pool.
  5. Plant trees.
  6. Use renewable source of energy.
  7. Use less Plastics.
  8. Use paints thats reflect sunlight into your house.
  9. Educate kids.
  10. Dispose e-waste properly.

Are we a family?

I was 4 years old then. A new member was added to my family just a few days ago, Black and White Dynora TV which was a rarity in those days. May 21st 1991 a normal day turned out to be a blasting day of sorts in Sri Perambadur where our then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. It was the first time I heard of the term “LTTE”.  I saw blood everywhere on the TV, hue and cry, chaos and scattered body pieces of the youngest Indian prime Minister. It was then I also heard of Tamils existing else where for the first time. Yeah I am touching the current sensational fight that’s going on.

Off late due to my interest in politics aka poly”tricks” I started following the Sri Lankan Issue keenly. As I scanned through the news channels both national and regional all I was able to see is that MP’s from Tamil Nadu protest against the cruel treatment of the Sri Lankan Tamils, X Tamil actor arrested for protesting against Sri Lankan government. I was taken aback by the kind of solidarity shown by these people.

But something else kept bothering me all the while. Why are only the “Tamils” fighting this cause, should we not fight as a nation? And will we fight only if the people are associated with some community or language? The people who have died in the war for more than 2 decades are brothers and sisters, or at the least our fellow creature who also shares a common name “HUMAN BEING”. There are terms like Cat family which includes tigers, cheetahs, reptile family etc etc. The amount of care, love and togetherness those families show for each other is way above ours. Its high time to retrospect whether WE ARE A FAMILY or NOT!!!!!!!!!


Given my love for kids, I decided to teach part-time in a local school. Unlike other staffs, I decided to have my lunch in the school corridors along with the kids, where the free meals was severed for them. There can be nothing better on earth than spending time with kids.

I noticed that a particular girl named Jothi seemed to look gloomy everyday after her lunch. One fine day I decided to have my lunch with her. I noticed that the girl had her eyes fixed on the dustbin. I inquired What about the dustbin was worrying her. She answered that it was what’s inside it worried her more. When asked as to why the thrown away food was worrying her, with tear filled eyes she replied “The very reason I am sent to school everyday by my parents is that I can have at-least one stomach filling meal. I feel that’s MY LUNCH in there.

Those words struck me so hard. I could realise Bharathiyar’s Anger when he wrote “Thanior manidanukku unavillaiyen jagathinai azhithiduvom”(destroy this world if food is not available to an individual) and Vallalar’s sympathy when he quoted “Vadiya payirai kandapodellam vadinen”(my heart broke whenever i saw a dead crop). Jothi did enlighten me. Let’s make it a point that we do not waste food, let alone donating it.

I would like to mention my Good friend who is inspiring me not to waste even a grain of rice – RS VIGNESH.

A Lost Glory?

A lost glory- Sounds a good movie title isn’t it? There is a little regard for the tradition and values these days. People forget their roots in the name of modernization. Sometime last February when i entered my heaven on earth “MIT”. I was stunned and felt let down when we were welcomed by my juniors like “Welcome sir, How are you sir??”. I felt like i was not at the right place. We are not used being called as Sirs. We always used to feel a bit special when we are called as “Seniors” and in turn most of the juniors are not called out by names, they are called as “Juniors”. This created a unique bond between people belonging to different batches and created a family like environment.

There are multiple reasons that can be attributed to it. Reluctance and arrogance of the First year students is the primary reason. They complain for silly things and anti ragging squads booked even the innocent seniors as culprits. (As it has happened now). The junior – senior interaction, the T series concept made people feel at home at a place which is unknown to you. Not many staffs or people who does not value the MIT tradition would know this. But i am more than confident that the people coming in from remote areas and those who had respect for human values would certainly acknowledge that. The interaction might start with a sore experience of listening to unpleasant words and actions (but there is something called a tolerable limits, which when crossed should be dealt with severely). That is how i got 2 people whom i would cherish the most in my life. They help me in whatever i do, acting as my own brother and sister. I have seen and heard of certain people using the Anti Ragging law for their personal motives. There are a few who cross the line but shouldn we look at the larger profits?

I think its high time that people realize that this is a tradition that has helped many in their lives and needs to be preserved and persisted with. Put your silly complaints and personal motives behind and create an environment good for both juniors and seniors. Let the glory be restored. Hail MIT.

Hey This Is India

March 11th 2010 was a day to remember. I booked an auto(tuk-tuk) to travel to the bank. The driver was chewing something and was second to none in cursing the roads and government rules. Although he did give some break in between to spit on the road. I listened to him patiently and did not utter a word back. He was constantly praising other countries and its beauty. Before, I got down he asked me didn’t if I did not like his arguments? I just replied like “Anna(Brother) I did like whatever you were speaking”. He replied “You look unhappy. Why might that be?”. I replied “You praised all the countries for their roads and cleanliness but you continued to spit on the road and . He replied “Hey bro, this is India”. I just smiled and replied “ I think you are missing a word here. Please tell it as Hey boy this is MY INDIA” and told him that I should probably retain some money for the clean India tax that I pay government. I knew by his reaction he was surprised and I gave him the money I promised and requested him to keep the city(country) clean before leaving the place. My cab driver asked sorry the very next moment and told me that he had been doing the same thing that the auto wallas were doing and promised me not to repeat it again. I felt much happier.

On April 2nd, On my way to Perambur, I was much elated to travel on the bridge that was supposed to be complete a decade ago. I must say it’s easily one of the well designed and a well built ones. But when I was about the reach the end of it, I found something that we are pretty much used to seeing in India. Writing names on the public walls. I felt heartbroken as the flyover was hardly a week old. When I expressed my dissatisfaction with my friend, I was not surprised by the response I received. Hey dude this is India. Why is there not a feeling that this is MY INDIA? Who else will care if we don’t? I hope this blog changes the view of the readers.

My sincere appeal to all those who read this blog to carry this message forward. Jai hind. Let’s try to keep this country as beautiful as possible.

Who else ll take care of mother India if we don’t.

Sach is Life

In few days another financial year going to end. People running behind each other for investments. Corporates keeping the quarter/annual performance of their companies close to their heart. More and more meetings . All are busy in office with their project. All the employees gather at a place to know the fate of India. I was able to see many biting their nails. Few even praying GOD. In few minutes there was a huge applause. Yeah Sachin becomes the first man to score a double hundred in ODIs. Oops i forgot to add that there were whistles and thunderous roars also.

This is a good proof for the following quote. “In India nothing is bigger than Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. And today he showed just why.”

Yes Sach is life. Once peter roebuck wrote in his column that ” He was travelling in train in India. Suddenly the train stopped in a station for more than the normal time. The reason? Even the guard and the driver had got down to see Sach complete his 100. What more Sachin can stop the time in India”.

No wonder Sir Donald Bradman saw himself in the way Sachin bats.

Mat Hayden once famously told the press that I have seen God. He bats at No 4 position for India in test cricket. Such is his value. He truly deserves all the adulations. Sach i am proud to be an Indian and I am proud to be your fan. Forever Sachin. I don even know if i will keep watching cricket after you hang your boots. One thing is for sure. Cricket is never going to be the same for me with out u. I wish you carry on playing on and on though this is selfish and greedy. But for u nothing is impossible.

SALUTE THE GOD… LOVE U SACHIN… You deserve a Bharat Ratna