Leadership Of Mahendra Singh Dhoni Simplified | Gambling soccer

In the history of the Indian cricket, very few captains have been so consistent like Mahendra Singh Dhoni. To say the least, his journey from Ranchi to ‘Rich Dom’ has been phenomenal and unparalleled in the cricketing world of India. He broke the jinx that the player, let alone captain, of the Indian cricket team can hail from the rusty and not-so-metro hinterland.After India won the last Test match against England, my friend Samir Desai suggested me to pen on the leadership of Dhoni, and thus this short article. I have attempted to simplify as far as possible, certain leadership and managerial talents that Dhoni has consistently demonstrated over a period. Each of his leadership qualities has had a distinct ramification on the outcome of the matches and on the game of cricket in India. The ensuing text on Dhoni’s talents takes into account his performances as a player and as a captain, in all the formats of cricket, I.e. Test match, One Day International (ODI), and T20.Start with a fresh perspective of the situation every time the match or a new session starts. This signifies that the leader stays unaffected by the outcomes of the last match or developments of the previous session. He rather distils the lessons from the previous match or session and incorporates them in the current strategy. In the business parlance, we call it staying coherent & rational on the business decisions.Do not blame the weather conditions for your performance; instead learn to use them to your vantage. The leader grasps the vagaries of the market, I.e. weather, and calibrates his master strategy or the action plan accordingly. This calls for a thorough understanding of the team members’ capabilities & other resources as well as the market forces. After all, the leader has no control whatsoever, over how the weather, I.e. market will pan out. Still, he should have the options suiting to various weather conditions.Know your individual strengths and always lead by demonstrating. The leader is neither jack-of-all, nor master-of-none. He is a player with his unique strengths and weaknesses. He skilfully uses his strengths to his as well as the team’s advantages. Dhoni has consistently demonstrated his wicket-keeping ability, running-between-the-wicket speed, hitting supremacy, and the finishing abilities. In fact, he is one of the best finishers of the game, at least in the ODI and T20 formats.

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Never underestimate the opposition or competition. Whether it is Zimbabwe or Bangladesh or Australia, treat each opposition with respect. Nevertheless, do not permit the opposition score over you as far as possible. This can happen only when the leader gives credence to the smallest firm or a product in the competition, analyses its strengths & weaknesses, studies the market, and then builds his short-term & medium-term strategy.Politics is good, but only when it is the bare minimum. The leader must keep the politics at bay and make sure that the team stays focused only on the goal. If needed, the leader should say ‘bye’ to the concerned team members, regardless of their past performances, capabilities and the potential. If a team member tries to grow beyond his shadow, it is the time for his departure, at times unceremonious. Team ethics are non-negotiable; it does not matter how strong the team member is. In the business management lingo, we recognize this as value adherence.Lend credence to your position power through your performance power. The performance power is the most sustainable kind of force. No leader can hold out for long if his execution does not match up to the potential and expectations of the team members & management. An associated aspect is raising the bar. By his performance, the leader keeps re-setting the bar higher and higher. He essentially forces the team members to stretch and in the process, they stumble upon their latent potential.Keep experimenting with the young blood. By intent or by default, let the seniors take rest at times. The leader knows that the low risk tasks or projects are the best bet for testing and grooming the youngsters. In the business management, this is the management development process.Pay heed to the wisdom of the coach and of the retired, non-playing, or resting seniors. When the leader shows the hunger for learning or improving and treats the advisers respectfully, he ends up elevating his stature in the eyes of the team members.Use directive or supportive coaching depending on the situation’s requirements and the demands of the squad members. The leader deploys directive coaching for instructing a new player or when time is limited for achieving the desired result. The leader uses supportive coaching for building the confidence of the team members or helping team members evolve a unique solution to the problem. Dhoni asked Ishant Sharma to use his height and hurl bouncers. This is an example of the directive coaching.Catch the opposition or competition by surprise. This is possible only when the leader has an in-depth appreciation of the team members’ latent potential and an eye to spot the opportunity to use the same. Measured gambling is okay as long as it is for a limited period. Asking Murali Vijay to bowl in the match at Lord’s is an apt example. Leading companies often do this by introducing a new product for a very short period for baffling the completion and for buying time for reviewing & recalibrating the main strategy.Non-performers cannot continue for long, as they become a drain on the squad. The leader should deal with the non-performers and their well-wishers firmly. The best strategy is the ‘knife-through-the-butter’ so that the ouster does not affect other team members. It does not matter how senior a team member is; after all, what counts is the performance. Disappearance of Virendra Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh is the classic case befitting this principle.Neither worry about the criticism of your decisions & performance (as a player and as a leader) nor respond to such criticisms. Either accept the criticisms with grace or just stay neutral. Remember that the consistent and towering performance is the sole response to the criticisms. Criticisms can harm the leader emotionally and professionally, if he does not check his anxiety to respond.Let there be a gulf between the personal indulgences and professional conduct. The leader must recognize that he is under a constant watch by every Tom, Dick, and Harry. The leader’s conduct in the public life should be commensurate with his professional stature all the time. The leader is the custodian of the team’s values and he must live by these values.

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Be flexible when truly warranted. This means that the leader knows the art of spotting the situations that call for flexibility. Flexibility means a measured deviation from the expected path with a clear objective in mind. The leader strikes a delicate balance between the focus and the flexibility. The leader should make sure that his ego stays out of the way and does not hamper his decision-making abilities.Remain calm and composed irrespective of the victory or defeat. It becomes very difficult for the opposition or the competition to fathom, if the leader stays calm & composed, in other words neutral, under all the circumstances. The leader should earn the title of the ‘Captain Cool’. This is a key quality of the leader that can rattle any opposition. Dhoni personifies this quality aptly. Only when the leader stays calm and composed, his frame of mind turns conducive for taking the appropriate decisions.Closure:The best quality of the leader that Dhoni would surely demonstrate is, to quit the leadership and / or playership when he is at the pinnacle of his form. In the post-match conference after beating the England on their pitch, Dhoni did hint that it was possibly his last Test match at the Lord’s.Leadership is a process, which the person at the helm of affairs initiates, solidifies, and then leaves the ground with a great legacy. Every member of the team or the organization, then wants to emulate him.The winning goal the leader can make is to give back the team or the organization, more than one choice for his successor. This entails a few players who are capable of donning the mantle of leadership for taking the team forward. Dhoni originally wanted to become a soccer player. Today he is a cricketer, but surely knows where his goalpost is and how to hit the winning goal.