Nikhil Kuruganti: Mahendra Singh Dhoni: Analysis

Mahendra Singh Dhoni: Analysis

The Achievement: Transformed a team which had delivered its worst performance in a World Cup-knocked out in the group stage in 2007-into world champions with minimal changes. Demonstrated success in just six months

He is not the best batsman. He is probably not the best wicketkeeper India can have. Yet he turned out to be better than all of these - MS Dhoni is the best team builder and hence the most effective leader in the cricketing world. He transformed a team of champions into a champion team.

Even in April 2007 - the lowest point of Indian cricket in the recent times-the team was packed with individual stellar performers. Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Sehwag, Kumble.... But collectively, the team wasn't firing. It had ignobly exited the ICC Champions Trophy in 2006 and was thrashed by South Africa in the same year. It was like an office team that had the most experienced and the best-paid professionals, but was not able to perform collectively. What do you do when you are either a part or head of such a team?

According to Thomas Varghese, CEO, Aditya Birla Retail, the biggest career lesson from Dhoni's conduct is the art of reposing faith in youngsters. "Dhoni has picked up his team and backed them over a long period. This is a remarkable quality I saw in KV Kamath too," says K Ram Kumar, executive director, ICICI Bank .


Dhoni will not pick and drop you without giving you a decent run. The lesson: talent and temperament do not always come together, but a great leader can help nurture one of the two.


Dhoni also brings an unusually high degree of composure-in contrast to, say, Shahid Afridi. Think of a lost opportunity like a dropped catch. Dhoni would react to it saying the catch is gone, focus on the next ball. "This kind of emotional balance is critical to command loyalty and draw extraordinary performance from your colleagues," says Ram Kumar.

The best thing to learn from Dhoni is to remain in control of a situation. One seldom finds him panicking, says Vishal Bali, CEO of Fortis Healthcare Global. "People look at the body language of the leader. Dhoni is always in charge of the situation-whether he is winning or losing," says Mohan Das Pai, member of the board, Infosys. Leadership trainers don't tire extolling the virtues of emotional quotient (EQ ) over intelligence quotient (IQ). Dhoni exemplifies EQ.

"A leader like him lets people finish and be responsible for their part; defines success in terms of the whole team; creates a feeling of belonging. This was evident all through the tournament and contributed the most to their win," says Nina Chatrath, principal (leadership & talent consulting) at executive search firm Korn/Ferry.

The fact that Dhoni came from a small town and was put in charge of a team full of seniors helped him rely more on EQ. D Shivakumar, MD of Nokia India, says that Dhoni has proved that irrespective of where you come from, you can conquer the world if you believe in yourself.

The greatest learning from the World Cup is that business is not the only source of management and career lessons, says ISB professor Kavil Ramachandran. To start with, the Indian team had a clear goal that is shared and owned by the entire team. The players were prepared to develop the necessary attitudes and skills to beat the competition at every stage, particularly from the quarter-final onwards.


"The team, led by Dhoni, was able to mix and match its resources basket according to contextual requirements," he says.

PS: This article is an extract from ET with some modification.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Copyright © Nikhil Kuruganti Urang-kurai