What I want to learn from Dhoni

I know, I know…he’s been flagged as the superstar over & over this summer on Indian media. And why not?!! Finally we have another picture to look at after 28 long years. It isn’t that he is the finest or the coolest or suavest that got him on this blog. The fact that I (a non-cricket & a big soccer & tennis fan) saw some sparkling truths that made me interested in him beyond the sport itself is the point to be noted. More so after Chennai Super Kings reached the finals effortlessly. So, oru whistle podu.

M.S Dhoni from the heartland of India is not known because of his lineage; his family isn’t famous, he is no urban slicker…but possibly everyone in India loves & respects him today. It’s merely the game of cricket undoubtedly, but what I took as the singular reason for the World Cup 2011 victory besides luck, is his ‘leadership’. There have been swell captains in the past but something about him sometimes makes me wish there were more like him to lead India too.

7 DHONI LEADERSHIP SILVER BULLETS (concluded from the finals of the WC that bowled me over)

1. FOCUS: Some artists play for the gallery & some for themselves. The difference between many artists who embrace commercial and/or art cinema has been just this.

Clearly focused on the final score, Dhoni didn’t give himself even a moment to rejoice his score of 50 runs. It’s when the crowd egged him on, did he remember to raise his bat.

2.     LISTENING: Unilateral decisions even in relationships leave a bad after taste. And in a game with multi egos, talents, excellence standards & points of view, why should it be any different.

Dhoni was a great listener, as much as he was a team player. He asked opinions from senior colleagues & key mates, making them belong to & own the match as much as he did.

3.     INTUITION+LOGIC IN DECISION MAKING: On a recent holiday I heard about the symbolic triumph of Gods (logic) over the Titans (intuition). Well at a time when science was getting dominant it seemed to have a place.

But today it works to have the best of both & Dhoni has mastered how to play by the art & science of the game. He listened to well studied opinions & took his decision too.

4.     LEADING FROM THE FRONT: While generals in war today have to let the soldiers take centre stage when they strategize to win, the generals of yore always led from the front. Brave or Foolish only the end of the war could say.

So did Dhoni…bravely so. He moved himself up in the order of batting, thereby making a bold decision to take the responsibility onto his hands. Despite not being the ace batsman of the team. This decision was unequivocally a sign of ‘accountability’ being his & not to be tossed around.

5.     ACKNOWLEDGING OTHERS’ SUPERIORITY: The toughest thing for a leader is to acknowledge a better teammate or then tolerate adulation that may disproportionately celebrate the latter. Within our organizations am sure we have seen bosses threatened by their teammates, haven’t we?

Dhoni, is an exception to the rule. It was his victory in many ways but he acknowledged that the game belonged to Sachin. He cheered for every player in the team who batted or bowled well. Leaving just the captaincy for himself. After all a leader is only as good as his team right!!

6.     HRD: Human Resource development has always been treated as a department. Assigned to people who are trained in it. But rarely involving direct intervention of the leader of the company.

Dhoni did that too in my opinion. Taking on Yuvraj Singh as he did & making him into a winner player. Supporting him through his perceived lack of excellence and identifying his winning strokes to encash on it.

7.     REJOICING FROM THE LAST ROW: This was the best. I saw that value even in Steve Ballesteros the Golf Champion, in a program that was a tribute to him. Dhoni just excels at this. He stood right at the back while every single team member held the cup. Danced. Laughed. He seemed to watch them like a doting parent does when his kids do him proud. Ace quality of a leader, who lets the credit belong to his team before basking in it himself.

I guess these are just some of the silver bullets. Works well in our corporate world too. Besides, our country is racing forward and we need leaders like that to emerge from the nooks & crannies of India everyday. They may have absolutely no political ancestors & may not live in the tallest tower, but they would handsomely steer a very ambitious India, if they had the  charisma & drive of Dhoni.

Why did I pick 7 silver bullets? JLT. On a lighter note, 7 is a good number. In Indian marriages, 7 steps are taken to pledge commitment. It’s probably laying the foundation stones to create a perfect match…much like it is within any team. Would love to hear what you think.

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  1. Good one. Rejoicing from the last row & taking a confident backseat was what had struck me the most at the moment we lifted the cup.

  2. Reminds me of one thing you had said the other day, when we were talking of Gujarat, on how Narendra Modi does not call himself the chief minister but the CEO maybe that was what Dhoni was being – the CEO of the Indian cricket team

    • Sandhya Srinivasan |

      Aaah! That was Chandrababu Naidu & well in a time long gone by. But I get the point. It’s just about how you decide to interpret leadership. CEO sounds v purposive & action oriented definitely

  3. i have 7 letters for you…
    Loved it!
    This deserves applause. And a wider audience. I am sure TOI would consider publishing as would every self respecting sports mag in the country!


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