A portrait as his farewell gift, cutouts illustrating his journey of 24 years displayed throughout the ground, tickets with his picture and 51 test century scores depicted on it, a club renamed on his name, and much more, this is how Mumbai Cricket Association plans to bid farewell to Sachin Tendulkar, arguably the best batsman in the history of cricket.
There are various schools of thought on Tendulkar and the greatness of his game. He is one of the best performers for Indian cricket and there is no doubt about that. An interesting parallel can be drawn between the way star performers are treated, celebrated and criticized in popular sports like cricket and the way they are tackled and dealt with in organizations.
Star performers like High Potentials are not made in a day. They are identified early, given opportunities to grow and get their share of bouquets and brickbats while performing at the top league. So when Sachin retired, he seemed like an ideal case study.
It all starts with identifying HiPos
Superstars are not identified in a day. It takes keen observation to identify the hidden talent. Had Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar’s coach Ramakant Achrekar not recognized his extraordinary talent and pushed him to raise the bar, there is little chance that the world would have seen the batting maestro. Likewise, superstars aren’t born out of thin air. They need to be identified, promoted, nurtured and pushed to perform.
A few easy questions may help identify the real champions from the hired lot: Are they more talented vis-à-vis their peers? Do they have that raw energy and urge to perform? Do they have some masterstrokes (read results) to their credit which their colleagues find difficult to deliver? Are they engaged with the cause they are hired for? Do they have the acumen to perform on a difficult pitch as well?
Training to become superstars
Converting HiPos into superstar performers is nothing short of a project that requires full-time commitment. They require consistent training on many fronts and need to be told the rules of the game, when and where they are allowed to play their shots and the risks involved. One important aspect is to keep it flexible and structure it according to the needs of the individual. For instance, in Tendulkar’s case, it was his coach who realized that he had an extraordinary talent for batting rather than bowling which Tendulkar was keen about. Like sports, HiPos in organizations too need on-the-field training. This is where mentors and coaches come into picture.
Give them space to grow
Talent doesn’t show unless given an opportunity. While a HiPo might outperform others on a regular job, not giving him the opportunity to grow is a waste of talent and opportunity to earn better results. On the flip side, the organization needs to consider the risk elements behind it. The other aspect of this effort is the result, which may or may not be good every time. Rather than writing them off with every unsatisfactory result, give them the space to bounce back. There are times when Tendulkar scored really badly series after series, especially after recuperating from his elbow injury; but his love for the game never diminished and that’s what kept him going.
Sometimes, even stars fail, they miss a shot and get penalized for it; they receive praise for the results they deliver and brickbats every time they goof up. This is where trust comes into play. The acceptance that even superstars may have a bad day is something that pushes them to give their best shot, and bounce back after being written off.
Cricketer Ajit Agarkar also retired at the same time Tendulkar announced his retirement. But, it was Tendulkar who hogged the limelight. Not because he wanted to, but the world was celebrating the achievements of an extraordinary individual. This is not to take away what Agarkar achieved, but Tendulkar was leagues ahead of him. All performers can’t be treated the same as some produce extraordinary results that can’t be compared with the rest.