Video: Leadership means not giving up on your team: Mithali Raj

Leadership

Leadership means not giving up on your team: Mithali Raj

You can watch her play the cover drive all day. Another thing you can do all day is listen to Mithali Raj and her thoughts on leadership, creating a winning mindset and working towards creating a world-class women's cricket team.

There hasn’t been a player who has disrupted the game of cricket as much as Mithali Raj. Be it bringing women’s cricket to the forefront in a country obviously biased towards the men’s game or becoming the highest run-scorer in women’s international cricket, her career has been full of one achievement after the other. And let us not even get started on Raj’s rendition of the cover drive, perhaps the most perfect shot the game has seen, ever.

In the closing session of People Matters L&D India 2022, where more than 700 delegates and 40 speakers came together, we heard from the cricketer often described as “Bradmanesque” on the topic Change The Game: Learn To Disrupt. 

Impactful moments

When asked about some of the most impactful moments from her almost two-decade long career and associated learnings, Raj said that sport has a way of teaching you a lot of lessons, which runs parallel to the person you tend to become over a period of journey.  

“When I started, my goals were individual goals - wanting to represent the country, wanting to do well for yourself.  But over a period of time I realised that my success is not limited to me alone. There have been so many people who worked backstage to create a player like Mithali Raj. So it would be selfish to enjoy the success on my own. So the success has come with a responsibility that I now have a role to play in the larger context of the sport,” she said. 

Miles to go

“Yes, I have had moments of self-doubt. But during these moments I have always looked towards people around me - my parents, my elder brother, my coaches - and taken inspiration from them,” Raj said when asked about how she dealt with moments of self-doubt over the course of her cricketing journey. 

“Sometimes doubts are important because then you tend to reflect and question where you are and whether you have it in you to go ahead. It is all about that grit and perseverance.” 

“Dreams demand commitment, they demand sacrifice”

In business, as in sport, achieving anything of value is a team effort. So what can we learn from Raj’s journey about translating individual grit into team energy? 

“I was leading the team for the 2013 World Cup in India. As the host team, we were expected to at least reach the finals. It was the most disappointing year of my sporting career because we didn’t even qualify for the Super Six. It was a bitter pill to swallow. People say you learn a lot from success. But it is important to understand that when you are in the most difficult of times, that is the beginning of an amazing journey,” Raj narrated, adding how she started her preparation for the 2017 World Cup in the worst year of career.  

“I decided that 2017 needed to be a very significant year for us as a team. So I had to get everyone in sync with my vision – not only the team and support staff but also BCCI officials, NCA officials, selectors, everyone,” she added. 

2017 did turn out to be one of the best years women’s cricket in India had ever seen with the national side making it to the World Cup finals, which was one of the closest finals in tournament history. 

Concept of leadership

Everyone has a different understanding and a different approach to leadership. But we can all agree that great leaders make a world of a difference to a team’s performance both on the field and in a business set up. 

“When I became the captain at 22, my concept of leadership was ‘I have the power. So either you  listen to me or you walk out of the team’!” Raj said, adding how failures, bad decisions, criticism, being sacked from captaincy changed what she thought about leadership and how she perceived it.

“Ambition is not giving up on yourself, leadership is not giving up on your team,” Raj said. 

Watch the video to hear the full conversation with Mithali Raj and see her interactions with the audience.

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Topics: Leadership, Culture

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