The chants of “CSK!! CSK!!CSK!!” and “Thala!! Thala!! Thala!!” is something that the cricketing fraternity is so habituated to wherever IPL is played. This was extra special in 2023 because many of us considered this to be the swansong of Thala Dhoni. That mystery is set to continue at least until November or December 2023. But what is more fascinating about this franchise is how have they gone making winning a habit in their way. From finishing 9th in 2022 to ending up as champions in 2023 with more or less the same squad commands respect. Their habit of winning was developed with a foundation of strong principles which could be a management crash course for many organizations not limited to sports franchises and leaders across the globe. The impact of the franchise is so much so that the coach of Gujarat Titans admitted that he wanted to create an environment similar to CSK. Here is my take on why CSK is a global management guru.
Focus on Process, Not Just Outcomes: I have heard this term not once or twice, but all through their existence, this has been in their DNA. As mentioned in the introduction, they finished 9th in 2022 and still believed in this mantra and stuck to their guns. Their management and leadership emphasize teamwork, discipline and a methodical/ organized approach to every match irrespective of the result of the previous match. This approach created a positive environment among the players who feel empowered to give their best and the outcomes naturally followed. Similarly, in management or business, focusing on the process and knowing that your team is on track to achieve the goal despite some bumps will help the team stay motivated, bring their A-game to the fore and be innovative and creative at work. This will improve the overall efficiency and performance of the teams.
No/Less Noise from Boardroom: Stephen Fleming and Dhoni have been leading with finesse. The team has lost championships and finished outside of the playoff spots but still, there was less or no noise from the boardroom. The management believed in the leadership and continued to support their leaders. Other franchises fired coaches and changed captains at will. Some franchises like the Sunrisers got involved in player selection(The Mystery of Umran Malik) and dented the confidence of the team. In management terms, when the leaders of the team are allowed to lead their teams with minimal external intervention or micro-management, there will be less pressure and more encouragement to deliver.
“People don’t want to listen to their thoughts, so they fill the world with noise.”
― Erin Entrada Kelly
Prioritizing Player Well-being: When you see the CSK team, you would be immediately reminded of their team environment. The players are relaxed, calm and composed at all times. The management ensured there was a perfect balance between cricketing career and personal life. Every player appreciates the way that their family is taken care of by the team. The cricketers especially the ones who play international cricket hardly spend 25% of the year at home, this could break anyone. The CSK management did a world of good for their players by prioritizing their well-being and mental health which in turn reflected in their performance. Similarly, when a business or management takes care of the employee’s well-being and mental health, productivity increases naturally. In my experience, the best product teams have been the ones where our team was not micro-managed and was well taken care of by the management team.
Ensuring Continuity: Player recruitment in IPL is something that I am really fond of. Unlike, the premier league or even the NBA, the franchise goes through auctions and a huge shuffle happens every now and then. Due to this, players who have been a part of a franchise have a higher probability of moving to a different franchise. This causes confusion for the fans and the management. But CSK has been brilliant to ensure that they keep the core group together and go all-out in the auction to bring those players who they think fit their vision and continue to support them. This fosters a supportive culture where individuals feel valued and empowered to perform at their best. Similarly, in the corporate world, this results in an increase in loyalty and employee engagement resulting in better output from the team.
What are your thoughts on why CSK has made winning a habit and what is it that you can take away from their approach?