“Aussies drown under Virat”; “The great, the escape”; “Australia did not lose to India - but to a man called Virat Kohli”; “Virat Kohli leads India to the World T20 Semifinals. India defeat Australia by 6 wickets”… Read the morning papers. And the contest was indeed a spectacle – with the magician Kohli charming the audience with his tricks and then doing a grand finish, like always.
But this article is not about cricket. This is not even a plaudit in written format for Kohli. Rather this is a juxtaposition of the cricket match with the current business scenario and what employees can learn about sustainable superior performance from Kohli.
The Virat Kohli masterclass aside, there was a peculiar similarity between yesterday’s India-Australia tie with that of the current business scenario.
Knockout match. Steep target. Tricky pitch. Wickets tumbling. Nation’s expectations.
Fierce competition. Formidable goals. Challenging business scenario. Organization’s expectations.
What both need to succeed are ‘high performers’. India, the cricket team that is, has found an answer in the name of Virat Kohli. So much so that the word ‘Kohli’ might as well be recognized as a synonym of ‘High Performance’ in the dictionary in years to come. And every organization needs its own Virat Kohlis (plural) for some relatively straight-forward reasons.
It is about skills. And more.
Virat Kohli is outrageously skilled – no questions asked. Square-cutting a wide yorker for four runs does take a lot of skill. But doing it when the team needs 35 runs in 17 balls in a World Cup knockout match; it takes something more than that. And there aren’t a lot of players around in the world who can actually do that. Going the last mile always takes something extra – something that differentiates ‘high performers’ from the rest.
Most, if not all, people in an organization are skilled – like the playing 11 of a cricket team. But all the 11 are not Virat Kohli. True, they have their good days, but it is the sustainable superior performance of Kohli that makes him the real HiPer (and not the angry kind!).
Learning from Kohli
Here is what makes Virat Kohli a high performer and how it can be juxtaposed to an organization’s scenario.
Know the target
People who are aware and connect with the organization’s goals tend to perform better. According to Gallup’s research, “Employees are more likely to stay, take proactive steps to create a safe environment, have higher productivity, and connect with customers to the benefit of the organization” if they are connected to the overall purpose and understand the company’s mission.
Something which Kohli understands ardently! This is something that distinguishes Kohli, and actually makes him a master-chaser. His statistics while chasing are Bradmanesque – averaging 122.83 in successful chases and a strike rate of 131. This is because when the scoreboard reads “’x’ runs required of ‘x/2’ balls”, he gains clarity on what he is supposed to achieve; and then he owns it in its entirety.
It is not just a task. It is a project
For Kohli, it isn’t just about scoring runs, but understanding the team’s predicament, assessing the weakness of the fellow players, filling that void, adjusting to the situation accordingly, and looking at the larger picture – not personal milestones. So a stuttering and limping Yuvraj Singh could not convert ones into twos – but it was Virat who took the ownership, played the role of a senior partner (which is ironic because Yuvraj made his debut in international cricket when Kohli was 11!), and gave Yuvraj the license to try and slay the bowling.
Something which is a key characteristic of a high performer in an organization. Every person in a team has strengths, and a high performer knows the accelerators, predicts the risks associated with all the stakeholders of a project, and doesn’t let them affect the performance. Kohli knew the next man in was cricket’s Usain Bolt, and he assessed the situation perfectly and ran like a rabbit (maybe faster) once Dhoni walked in.
For HiPers, it is not about personal milestones, but the team goal – predominantly the reason why Virat didn’t raise his bat when he reached 50, his eye was still on the required runs.
Challenges? No, they are opportunities
“You need challenges in every game, they improve you as a cricketers,” said an emotional Virat after the match. That is the mindset of a true high performer – (s)he converts challenges to opportunities.
Difficult times are the best to prove your worth, something which high performers feel and this is something which drives them (Kohli broke into the national side when Sachin, Sehwag, Gambhir, Raina, Yuvraj and Dhoni formed the core of the batting). To make high performance sustainable, don’t be bogged down by challenges, rather take them as stepping stones, and perform even in those tough times, something Kohli did and made the No. 3 spot his own.
Desire to learn. Hunger to improve
A high performer has the desire to improve and grow, and (s)he keeps learning the tools of the trade. Kohli went a notch ahead – he didn’t only learn how to use those tools, but also molded his behavior in the workshop. A 2014 Virat Kohli was agitated (and it showed) at Yuvraj for his inability to rotate the strike; the 2016 Virat Kohli appreciated the southpaw’s effort after the match concluded and kept supporting his partner. That is how high performers mature – they underscore their shortcomings and grow with time.
This also connects to the previous argument about assessing the situation and the team’s limitations to actually excel and achieve the business goals.
A true high performer is someone for whom non-performance is an anomaly. It is an odd day when high performers do not perform. This has been a characteristic of Virat Kohli in the recent past – something which every employee must strive to achieve, something which is a reflection of the superlative of performances, something which is an epitome of greatness.