Article: Mithali Raj on empowering the team to take innovative shots


Mithali Raj on empowering the team to take innovative shots

As a leader, you need to do your homework to know what makes and breaks each team member. They are all unique. At People Matters L&D conference 2021, Mithali Raj, Captain of Indian Women's Cricket Team, shared how you can build a high-performing team with empathy and compassion.
Mithali Raj on empowering the team to take innovative shots

The COVID-19 crisis brought the world to a standstill and delayed plans for many. For Mithali Raj, Captain of Indian Women's Cricket Team, it was no different. When the world cup that she had spent months training for was postponed, she was unsure if she had the energy to push herself for another year. That’s when her father gave her the mantra to have smaller goals. 

Success is a journey, not a destination

Instead of focusing on the 365 days, taking life series by series, project by project, will be less stressful and inspire leaders to be ready for bigger challenges. As a leader, Mithali encourages her teammates to also have shared smaller goals that empower them to contribute and create a larger impact. 

The shared smaller goals help build trust among the team. Coupled with respect, irrespective of backgrounds and experiences, valuing each individual for the distinct qualities they bring to the team is critical to drive success and build a high-performing team. 

Preparation is key to excellence 

“How you prepare is what you get in the competition arena,” said Mithali. That’s why it is also important to prepare for the tough and the rough days. How do you handle failure? How do you support each other? As a leader, are you there for your teammates when they fall?

To have those dialogues and build the rapport before you enter the field is critical. 

Honesty: The main ingredient of high-performance teams 

As leaders you don’t have to always paint a beautiful picture for your team. Being honest, especially during tough times is important. 

The truth comes out sooner or later. With these ingredients teammates are able to focus on the bigger picture and there is no room left for individual egoes. And then, even if they have had a bad day on field or at work, they will take the lessons learned and train better for their team. 

Make an effort to know your team

As a leader it's also important to identify the strengths of your teammates. There will be some match winners who will shoulder the responsibility, but there will always be some players who play the supporting role. Everyday not all 11 players will perform at their best. 

After every match, Mithali ensures she chats with each player. She believes that as leaders we must know what inspires each team member. Every individual is different and requires a different approach to bring out the best in them or unleash their potential. 

The first step has to be taken by the leader. “I do my homework and understand each and every player,” said Mithali. “I wear different hats, sometimes a friend, sometimes a captain,” she added. 

Additionally, leaders also need to constantly encourage their people and give them opportunities to grow and prove themselves. Especially for the members who are sometimes left out of a project or in case of cricket, from the playing 11, it is important to let them know they're still very much in the scheme of things. 

“That’s how we create a good positive vibe in the dressing room,” said Mithali. 

With this sense of belonging in the team, driven by empathetic and compassionate leadership, Mithali is encouraging and empowering the Women’s India Cricket team to take risk-taking, bold, and innovative shots on the field. How are you nurturing your team to take bold calls in business and enable more success?

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Topics: Leadership, #PMLnDIN

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