There are a zillion books, research papers, and courses offered on leadership, yet sports continue to be one of the best ways of learning about it. The consequences of decisions taken in business or politics may play out over time. With sports, the results are immediate and dramatic.
Bear with me as I recount the leadership lesson that we can learn from the recently concluded WTC finals. India announced its eleven the day before the match was scheduled to start, on the 17th of July. The captain said that his team is suited for every surface and every overhead condition. An utterly confident statement no doubt. But probably as effective as a general preparing for a sea battle with Arjun and Bheeshma tanks. The opening day was washed out. The toss never happened. Even then the captain and the team management decided to stick with the eleven that included two spinners. The Indian seamers looked a pale shadow of themselves in the second innings. Whereas New Zealand always had a fresh seamer to turn to in both the innings of the match. Conditions do not matter said the Indian captain. He was wrong. India lost the match even before it took the field. India lost the match because of the arrogance of its team leadership.
Some fans will moan about the toss, others will feel less hurt as we lost to the good guys of cricket. Sanjay Manjrekar may get into more trouble for his studied observations. The moving ball and the inability of our batsmen to counter it will be a trending topic right through this English summer. All of this is noise. The real reason India lost was because our leadership -Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri – forgot one cardinal rule of cricket: respect the conditions. And another on leadership: leadership and arrogance do not mix well.