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  leader cannot be an armchair strategistAnil KumbleLeadership, someone said, is about sizing up the situation and constructing the appropriateresponse. In my view, this is an apt description and nowhere is it more relevant than in thefield of sport. During my long and cherished career representing the state and the country at the highest level, I have been fortunate to be part of teams that have been led by some exceptional individuals in the twilight of my career, I also had the opportunity to lead the team myself. !here have been substantive lessons on leadership that I have absorbed along this ourney and here are some of them.!rust!he most critical aspect of leadership, especially in a sporting context, is the ability to buildtrust. !his manifests in many ways. As the captain, you have to implicitly trust each of yourteammates #remember that you may not have selected each one of them$. !his means standing up for the team and building the culture of all for one and one for all. %n the other side of the coin, the leader must be good enough to inspire trust. &hether it is a decision on the toss, or deciding a batting position or a bowling tactic, successful teams rally behind leaders and adapt themselves. %ne good way of establishing trust is to lead by consensus than by command. In the last five years or so of my playing career, the Indian test team had a core thin' tan'. !his meant that whoever was the captain had the collectivewisdom of five or six experienced minds to tap into. !he thin'(tan' approach helped not   ust in match tactics, but also in loo'ing at the medium(to(long(term future of the team andenvisioning success. I am sure this can be a successful model in the corporate world as well.)erforming leaderIn a sporting context, more than anywhere else, a leader cannot be an armchair strategist. Leadership means ensuring the team delivers the best results, but also means that you haveto individually contribute. *ery often, it is your individual excellence and attitude that has catapulted you to the leadership position. +aving reached here, it becomes even more important to consolidate and deliver the more important aspect is that, in most sports, the team cannot afford to have one 'ey player fail. I have seen that leadership can have varying effects on peoples performances. -ome of them get spurred on to deliver even greater deeds, while, sometimes, the best of talent is unable to cope with the loneliness and pressure at the top. )erhaps the best contrarian example here is that of ob &illis who once won a man of the match award ust for his captaincy in a /012 &orld 3up match. I have seen this point resonate very strongly in the corporate tal's and interactions that I anchor. !here is a craving among every member of any team, at all levels, to see a performing leader.3ontribution not designation!he former 4- president 5ohn 6uincy Adams said, 7If your actions inspire others to dreammore, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.8 &hat it essentially translates to is that you have to be able to lead, or at least contribute your inputs at the highest level without carrying the tag of 9captain or leader. !his sometimes means ma'ing personal sacrifices for the sa'e of the team. In the I33 &orld 3up :;;2 in -outh Africa, I  found myself in this uni<ue situation where I was part of the core team, and contributing tomatch strategies, including selecting the playing =I, but 'nowing that I would not be part of that playing eleven myself.>anage expectations!his is possibly the greatest challenge that every leader faces. If you are the captain of a high(profile elite sporting team li'e the Indian cric'et team, you have various sta'eholders who are constantly assessing you and passing udgement. !his is aside of the fact that everysingle person you meet has an opinion on what the Indian cric'et team should do? &hat I am constantly amazed with, and ta'e away, is the passion that exists, which means you as a player and captain must deliver results to 'eep that passion alive. @oing bac' to managing expectations, the 'ey is probably in setting ground rules for engagement right in the beginning. &hether it is the administrators or the media or the paying public, once they 'now what to expect, you will find that they are <uite reasonable and happy to play a role in contributing to your success? !he critical element here is being consistentwith your behaviour, stances and positions on issues, and indeed your performances.Bailure and the fear factorLeadership comes with its own set of challenges on coping with failure. %ften times, decisions big and small bac'fireand as a leader, you have to be able to put your hands up, ta'e ownership, and live with the decisions made. &hat you realize after many years of playing at the international level is that it is o'ay to fail. &hat is important is learning fromthe failures, and passing on these lessons down the line to ensure that such failure does not recur. >y personal adage has been, dont be afraid to fail, be afraid of not trying at all, andnot 'nowing whether youll win or lose.@uardian of valuesI would li'e to end by emphasizing a critical point. In the sporting context, the leader and team represent not ust an organization, but an entire country, and often become proxy for how the country is viewed in the eyes of the rest of the world. All great leaders inspire behavioural change in their team mates. !he leader becomes the custodian of the values and associated behaviours in any organization or team. +is or her behaviour and attitude must be beyond reproach. !he greatest oy for any leader is to see his young wards succeed in whatever realm they are part ofthis success has to come while not compromising an agreed value system. I am sure that all the great corporate leaders we all remember and admire today have this common trait as wellof being value champions.In a recent closed(door intervention with the leadership of an Indian telecom ma or, our discussions were revolving around the importance and need for leaders to be guardians of the coreby preserving and nurturing the culture and value systems that the organization stands forand exhort the rest of the team to follow suit, irrespective of the business realities.Leaders and captains are found in the context of their teams and environments. Cach of you can bring out the leader in youas the famous <uote goes, 7Do not follow where the path may lead. @o instead where there is no path and leave a trail.8
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