Blog: India’s Cricket Debacle – Lessons on leadership and culture

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India’s Cricket Debacle – Lessons on leadership and culture

Here's an analysis of the Test series with England so far. What can you learn about managing people, leadership and team culture?
India’s Cricket Debacle – Lessons on leadership and culture

It won’t be wrong to say that India has been left seething from the drubbing the cricket team received from the ‘Three Lions.’ The expectation was that the Indian team would (re)-create history. But the performance of the team has left everyone wondering 'what happened to the team that did so well in South Africa, but has meekly surrendered this series?'

Here are the lessons that one can learn from Team India’s

  1. Leadership starts from the top

    Virat Kohli missed out on the Surrey stint due to injury. It is alleged that he played 2-3 IPL matches with a back injury which bothered him. The injury resurfaced again as Virat was out of the field on day four.

    The lesson: It’s important to sort out issues with your team. It could be a small issue or a new one, but it’s better to talk it out and sort problems. You never know how old problems could resurface again. Virat Kohli now has to think of a team combination and more importantly his batting in England, where he had multiple failures. The injury didn’t help the team, as they needed Kohli, one of the world’s best test batsman while facing an opposition team that was on a roll. One needs to put the best foot forward. Whether the Indian team can deliver remains to be seen.

  2. Neglecting practice, underestimating opponents and not learning from past mistakes.

    After the limited overs series, the Indian team took a five-day break which effectively left them with an eight-day gap between the practice and the first test. 

    Not to forget, test specialists still had to acclimatize to the conditions. A throwback to the South African tour, Indian team management complained about lack of time for preparation and how they got better as they came to the third test and took over the South African shore.

    Indian team were in England much before the test series but playing the red duke ball and in seaming and overcast condition was going to be difficult. A five-day break, a shortened four-day game to three days were factors. If one looks at the team’s footwork and body language, they underestimated the English test team.

    In the same way, organizations and employees have to learn from their previous mistakes and not underestimate the competitors. Its essential firms keep reinventing themselves. Because whatever worked for them will be replicated. Nokia failed because of competition from iOS and Android. Both Blackberry and Nokia were forced to lose their market share because of the choices of apps both Android and iOS offered.

  3. There has got to be differences of opinion

    Virat Kohli no doubt is a great batsman and scores a century even with minimum preparation. But the same doesn't apply to others. Other players could need more or less time, and it should be up to them how they get to that position before the match starts. One player and coach calling the shots doesn't help. It is important that everyone voices their opinion.

    In the same way, having a difference of opinion within the team and backing the difference of opinion with some substantial information is a healthy way to improve the conversation within the workplace realizing what could be at stake.

  4. Accepting mistakes

    This has to be the toughest part. Not many would do. Virat Kohli decided to play two spinners on the seaming track. Given the overcast conditions, it was a questionable move.

    But he admitted to his mistake in the post-match conference. In the same way, leaders have to come out and accept defeat graciously. When they lead the way, the troops follow the suite. It's tough when ones mistakes are not tolerated. One needs to have a workplace culture that is accepting of mistakes, especially when the employee put the effort to correct him or herself.

  5. Staying away from the bias

    Virat perhaps sees a shadow of himself in Hardik as an all-rounder. Hardik batted at no.6 and was the third seamer at Lord's. The number six position is for a specialist batsman, for India, for over a decade VVS Laxman did that job. 

    Is Hardik as good as Laxman? The numbers reflect it. But as a third seamer, he had decent bowling figures but could he provide the breakthrough when it was needed? Sadly, No. India needed a frontline bowler or batsman to strengthen the team, but Virat's favoritism prevailed. 

    HBR’s studies point out that such favoritism and bias is widespread in the workplace. Racism, ageism, and sexism have to be dealt with. It's important to simplify and standardize the hiring process to ensure fair policy for all.

  6. Planning ahead of time

    Choosing an opener was a tough decision for Team India heading into this series. The three candidates KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan made a case for themselves. But through two matches, the Indian team tried two openers, and it's likely the third option could be explored in coming events. This is an opportunity lost. It is tough to plan and expect results right away. Hence, it is essential to test your ideas in advance and experiment to see which one gives you the maximum output considering factors such as cost, effort and time.

    Try different strategies beforehand when the time is still ripe for experimentation, and then you can measure results and provide feedback for improvement without putting too much pressure on an employee. Once the idea is tested and applicable, you can estimate time, cost and quality of your organization as well as employees. A hasty decision will create doubt and fear in the mind of the employee, and as a result, they are unlikely to enjoy work.

An analysis of Indian team drubbing shows that even if you are a champion in the field, you still have to work on the basics, adapt as per demand and conditions. Practice becomes all the more critical, procrastination of any means should be given zero tolerance.

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Topics: Sports, Books & Movies, Leadership, Culture

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