Inspiration from Champions

India - World Champions in Cricket

The entire nation of India was transfixed from February 19, 2011 when the “Men In Blue” led by M S Dhoni opened against Bangaldesh to April 02, 2011 when they closed against Sri Lanka. Further driving home the point that the center of the universe has shifted, it was two South Asian Nations that  contested for the Cricket World Cup Champions Title. Both these teams in the last decade or two have exemplified their pursuit of excellence while shining light on the decay of the very same qualities in the past champions.

Leadership has been a key theme of this World Cup Campaign. Not just from the Captain of the Indian team who shone the brightest with his courage of conviction and dignity, but also from the mentoring elderly statesman in the 38 year old master blaster and the understated South African coach that rallied not just a team of 11 but a squad of 15. And the combined leadership working towards a common goal of achieving sporting excellence focussed on key principles that are worthy of emulation in any walk of life:

  • Leaders take accountability with professional and personal integrity seriously. They make no compromises in the drive to achieve the cause.
  • A team may be the one that plays on the park on a particular day but every single member needs to feel wanted in a long campaign to contribute just when some other team members comes short on a particular day.
  • Resilience comes from the ability to respect decisions and deliver in circumstances that are demanding and not always conducive to ones line of liking or thinking.
  • Leaders act and expererience the joy on the field, not in pre or post match conferences. Champions do not complain, they contribute.
  • Admitting that you made an error in judgement does not make you a poor leader. Inability to act decisively, does.
  • In a long campaign, not all days will be equal. A squad that sticks together will weather the highs and lows and come out triumphant together.
  • Skills in cricket alone cannot make champions. It is a team’s personality that shapes the destiny of champions to deserve a place on the victory podium.
  • A World Cup Campaign is part of life and not vice versa.

It is ironical that the above points are often discussed as traits of leadership and team work and yet, these are the very principles that are most often flouted by governments, organizations, societies and  individuals in their pursuit to achieve their purported goals. Therein lies the fundamental sense of misplaced understanding; the juxtaposition of Purpose versus Goals. The former is an outlook on Universe and Life itself, while the latter is a way to fulfill that shape of life through measured steps.

The shift of power in sport is always a good inspiration for society to endeavor as compelling contributors rather than merely as competitors in other spheres of life.  This is what marks champions. They just don’t compete…they contribute. They do not think of excelling in a campaign but focus on their individual personality to become part of a team that can perform consistently. That essentially contributes to being in the position of a champion not just in a campaign, but in life as well. These qualities of champions are very difficult to build; for one needs to reach the deep recess of ones own self individually and collectively to find the magic. Once that has been discovered, it takes a lot of integrity to keep that inner recess shining to inspire and initiate performance. Individual brilliance, no matter how bright, has never built societies. It is the collective wisdom of people that has always brought the goodness of life to bear. Ask Sachin Tendulkar who is rated as the World’s Greatest Batsman succeeding in being part of a world cup winning team at the sixth attempt; he will tell you the pain and travails of the burden of delivering against the expectations of a billion people versus the urge of personal accomplishment.

Congratulations to Team India for the joy it given the people around the world and the hope for Indian in every nook and cranny; that we are destined to deserve better and we can shape that destiny only if we collectively contribute to a cause. JAI HIND!

About Subbu Iyer

Subbu Iyer is an Innovation & Transformation Leader as with 28 years of serving customers globally. He is currently the Chief Designer & Transformer at Energizing Innovation, an enterprise that is being founded to facilitate continuous growth in enterprises and as a consequence create societal wealth. The Radical Shift that this enterprise intends to employ is focusing on the Potential rather than the Performance of a business. He has been a serial entrepreneur and an intrapreneur in his past life, having founded Nihilent Technologies and Nandaki Systems besides being associated in senior leadership roles with firms such as Coopers & Lybrand, Cambridge Technology Partners, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro Technologies and Steria.
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4 Responses to Inspiration from Champions

  1. monceabraham says:

    “Leaders act and expererience the joy on the field, not in pre or post match conferences. Champions do not complain, they contribute.”

    Thanks for sharing this Subbu… The new face of Team India sure has inspired many a thought leaders and the nation alike, and I hope they (the team) go on to win more laurels, for themselves and for India.

    Best, Monce

  2. Subbu Iyer says:

    Thanks Monce for the encouragement and highlighting some of the key lines of the article which surprisingly sound nice when highlighted by another person…

  3. Subbu

    I too agree with Monce and you that thought leadership is very important. If you remember Dhoni on his speach said that I took certain decisions during the match which people would have asked me if we would have lost.. its good that we won and nobody is questioning on the same. Its about ownership. He owned the decisions being the leader.

    • Subbu Iyer says:

      Thanks Sukumar. Dhoni is also a great example of what “Learning” really is and how important it is for leadership. Coming from a rural area of India and a humble background, he has had to not only lift his game but also his personality in the process of representing India and then leading it; a team comprising of mostly urban players. Not only that, he had the difficult task of leading the game’s leading icons and keeping a team together that was high on the ego quotient. It is remarkable to observe how he has managed to elicit only praise and perhaps even awe from each and every member and even enlist support from reluctant participants who might have considered him a usurper of their rightful place at the helm of the team.

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