Blog: Lessons from Rohit Sharma’s cricketing journey

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Lessons from Rohit Sharma’s cricketing journey

Lessons for managers, leaders, and working professionals from Rohit Sharma’s cricket journey.
Lessons from Rohit Sharma’s cricketing journey

2019 has undoubtedly been the year of Rohit Sharma. Be it Test, one-day or T20, Ro”Hit” has bossed the bowlers in all formats, and with each passing month, the legend of Rohit Sharma has only attracted more praise.

In case you haven’t been in on his meteoric journey this year, here is a quick recap: 

  • Jan 2019: Rohit Sharma scores a vital 63* in the third Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), helping India register the first-ever Test series win in Australia.
  • Feb 2019: Rohit Sharma becomes the 14th Indian to play 200th ODI and leads India in the series win against New Zealand after ten long years.
  • March 2019: Rohit Sharma becomes the third-fastest cricketer to score 8000 ODI runs behind AB DE Villers and Virat Kohli. Not to forget, Rohit played his first 70 odd ODIs as a middle-order batsman.
  • May 2019: Rohit Sharma leads Mumbai Indian to its fourth IPL tournament win against Chennai SuperKing (CSK) and also surpasses most titles by an IPL franchise held by CSK.
  • June 2019: Rohit Sharma (140) architects India’s win against arch-rival Pakistan and goes past Virat Kohli’s 107 as the highest individual score against Pakistan in the World Cup. 
  • July 2019: Rohit Sharma becomes the only batsman to hit five centuries in single World Cup and the leading run-scorer of the Cricket World Cup 2019 (CWC 2019), making a record. 
  • August 2019: Rohit Sharma surpasses Chris Gayle to become leading T20 International (T-20I) six-hitter. 
  • September 2019: Rohit Sharma becomes leading run-scorer for India in T-20I overtaking Virat Kohli.
  • October 2019: Rohit Sharma celebrates the test call up with maiden hundred as an opener at Vizag and double hundred in Ranchi to become the chief architect for a 3-0 whitewash and enters the top 10 ICC Ranking of the Test Batsman.

Such a phenomenal landmark, and it doesn’t look like Rohit Sharma is stopping anytime soon. But as Alex Altman, author of Time Money, rightly said: “Success is like an iceberg, what people see is only on the surface.”

Rohit’s journey from a humble background to owning a 30-crore sea-facing penthouse in Worli and now on the cusp of becoming not just India’s but one of the world’s greatest batsman comes with its own set of highs and lows. Unlike Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, or Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit's career has been start-stop before getting into top gear since the 2017 Champions Trophy. At one point in 2012, Rohit Sharma’s terrible form yielded only 13 runs in five innings. Rohit’s tally from the away ODI series against Sri Lanka read 5-0-0-4-4 and memes starting flooding on twitter using adjectives such as “Maggi Man,” (owing to his association with Maggi) and “Indian Shahid Afridi.” From being the butt of jokes, Rohit has managed a transformation from Maggi man to India’s hit-man. Rohit shut down all the critics once he accepted the opportunity to open in ODI cricket during the Champions Trophy, which India eventually won.

With his achievements in context, let us take a look at some lessons for managers, leaders, and working professionals from Rohit Sharma’s evolution: 

  1. In the Breakfasts with Champion series, Rohit Sharma confessed he had no idea about which opposition India was to play in the Champions Trophy when MS Dhoni asked him to open the night before the game. In fact, Rohit had been psychologically preparing for the next step as he wasn’t given a hint about playing. His dream of wanting to play for significant tournaments made him agree instantly. After 8000 ODI runs and 200+ ODIs, we know the significance of that decision. 
    Lesson: For the young executive, it’s a lesson not to shy away when entrusted with more significant responsibility at any stage. You could be asked to give a write-up to the media or deliver a presentation with just a few minutes to go. Go for it, give it your best, and get out of the comfort zone. You might not do a fantastic job, but later on, when the time comes, you will be much more prepared to shine. 
    Don’t forget, on his first outing in Champions Trophy, Rohit scored 65 runs off 81 balls giving India the platform to start the winning streak in Champions Trophy. Still, Sharma would do the job at a more prominent platform such as the World Cup in years to come as he becomes the prolific batsman of the World Cup 2019(648 runs with five centuries) and leapfrog what he could achieve batting at No.5 or 6 in ODI cricket.
  2. As a leader, MS Dhoni’s words were crisp and clear as Rohit recalled in an interview after MS Dhoni stepped down from the captaincy “I want you to open the innings as I am confident that you will do well. Since you can play both cut and pull shot well, you have the qualities to succeed as an opener.” MSD not just believed in handing the responsibility to a player but backed him all the way, as evident from the leader’s statement. 
    Lesson: A lesson for top and middle leaders is to know the talent’s real strength and harness it when the situation demands. Similarly, for HR, it is to pick a talent not just based on the qualification, the number’s or those ATS algorithms but look beyond it to evaluate the candidate holistically. 
    During Champions Trophy, the Indian team had Murali Vijay waiting in the wings to open in the ODI after his spectacular comeback against Australia earlier in 2013, scoring two centuries. But MS Dhoni had other ideas; had Dhoni gone by the textbook method, he probably would not have discovered the prolific run-scorer in Rohit Sharma today. 
  3. What could be baffling for those who don’t follow cricket or tune in to matches when IPL starts, a few months before Champions Trophy, Rohit had a terrible performance against the Sri Lankan Team came which saw him score 13 runs in five innings. But the Indian team management struck with Rohit Sharma. The then vice-captain Gautam Gambhir publicly backed Rohit calling him a class player, but have you ever seen Dhoni or Gambhir take credit for Rohit Sharma’s success? Never. 
    Lesson: Great leaders let their team taste the fruit of success when they win and take the blame upon themselves in the failure. Mission Mangal, a movie based on Mars Orbiter Mission, shows this as well when Rakesh Dhawan (Akshay Kumar) takes the blame upon himself for the failed launch of GSLV-F06 due to a mistake by Project Director Tara Shinde (Vidya Balan). 
    Can we not apply this learning in real life? In the professional world, where one review or bad experience can leave the employee in doldrums, it’s essential to encourage juniors not just during the good, but the bad times as well. Furthermore, HR can go beyond handling pink-slips by conducting skill gap analyses and scheduling the required training programs. It’s crucial to promote learning culture throughout the organization by the upper management.
  4. It is not as if Rohit Sharma wasn’t on the radar before, but he tried too hard to be in test mold when his instincts set him apart from the rest. An example was India’s tour of South Africa in 2018 when Rohit tried to play the game of patience even when the ball was in his zone to hit, resulting in him going into the shell and failing. Sharma decided to play this series with the set template that he plays in ODI cricket and result: 529 runs in four innings with an average of 133.25. 
    Lesson: So, the one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work, and managers need to let their juniors to have the freedom to express themselves and keep them happy to maintain productivity. It could be something as small as allowing work-from-home when things can be managed, not managing little things, and promoting experimentation. And considering the fact that Gallup’s State of the American Workplace in 2018 found that greater work-life balance and better personal wellbeing are some attributes employees want from their employers, organizations need to start prioritizing the same.
  5. Rohit also has stressed upon self-talk as well. Self-talk is vital in low phases; it could be an affirmation you say or write. You could do it by looking into the mirror while taking a shower or during the early morning when you wake up or in the night before going to sleep.
    Lesson: The HR and talent management team can work on this aspect more firmly. For starters, they should not fade away after the induction and training to reappear only during annual performance management and annual report preparation. Instead, activities should be regularly organized to incorporate these skills of a regular employee.
  6. Despite being the hit-man in the limited format for Team Blue, Rohit was ignored for a Test spot during India’s tour of England in 2018. Rohit, in an interview, answered, “There’s a limited time you have as a player, and I have finished almost half of it. There’s no point spending the remaining half thinking whether I will be picked or not. I am going forward with the theory of whatever time I have, make it count.” And he did it by continuing his rich vein of form in the series to follow: Asia Cup and limited over series against West Indies. 
    Lesson: For young executives vying a promotion should strive to maintain consistency in their performance. While the sample size to pick a player is small in cricket as compared to a typical organization, a consistent effort on your end will ensure that you get the right recognition and reward. For managers, this means that whether it is a weekly or monthly one-on-one, it becomes crucial not to let talent sit on the side-lines without giving them the feedback on where to work on to reach a particular position and explanation on more.
  7. Rohit Sharma doesn’t forget to thank his previous captains and current team management for their faith shown in him. They might have gambled on him without giving the necessary confidence, but he reposed the faith shown in him. So, gratitude is essential; many elite sports persons have often stressed about it, such as Connor McGregor as well. 

If you have a lump of coal and you apply immense pressure, and it will do one of two things: it crumbles into dust, or it will turn into a diamond. India, especially MS Dhoni, understood the value of Rohit Sharma and wanted him to play XI at any cost, and current team management’s decisions are an example of how Rohit turned into a priceless diamond they always knew he was. His journey has many lessons for talent managers and leaders to excel and succeed in today’s uncertain world.  




Image source: Times of India



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Topics: Sports, Books & Movies, #GuestArticle

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