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5 Leadership Lessons From MS Dhoni

MS Dhoni
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The news of Dhoni’s retirement from the Limited-Over format of cricket comes in at a time when the next generation of cricket players are ready to take up the charge. Virat Kohli, the incoming captain, has already made it clear that the task ahead would not be easy because Dhoni left a remarkable legacy as a captain. Dhoni has proved that leadership isn’t easy, and you must be willing to take risks and stretch yourself to win as a team.

MS Dhoni

Image Source: http://media2.intoday.in/indiatoday/images/stories/dhoni_660_071613122553.jpg
Here are the five leadership lesson from Captain Cool’s life –

  1. On Taking Risks:
    During the final of the 2011 ICC World Cup, when India lost early wickets against Sri Lanka, MS Dhoni himself came to bat instead of sending Yuvraj Singh. He played till the end and India won that edition of the World Cup. This was a major decision which could have gone either way. In other instances, he has backed Ishant Sharma in the Champions Trophy 2013 and Joginder Sharma in World T20 2007, and this has paid off well. One of the lessons that we can draw out is that leaders must be willing to take risks and try out something new instead of sticking to patterns. At FOCUS Adventure, we run an activity called Helium Hula, which helps teams break their patterns and come up with insights to think afresh.For all you cricket fans, don’t miss this video

     
  2. On Becoming World Class: 
    MS Dhoni practising on the field
    Image Source: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/YozkgTyayCA/maxresdefault.jpg

    Dhoni is a believer in experiential learning. Here’s what he said on getting better, “I don’t study cricket too much. Whatever I have learned or experienced is through cricket I’ve played on the field, and whatever little I have watched.” The point is learning by doing is the best way to fasten the learning process. When you do something, you observe and form a model (or process) of it in your mind (also see Kolb’s Learning Cycle). Once the model is there in your mind, you further apply it in real life situations and thereby learn more. It is all about refining yourself day in day out with every passing experience.
  3. On Developing Champions:

    MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli
    Image Source: http://images.indianexpress.com/2015/01/kohli-mi.jpg

    Dhoni has been criticised by people for supporting players who were out of form. When others saw an out-of-form player, Dhoni saw something unique and believed in the individual. It was this belief that transformed several players, including the incoming captain and arguably the best batsman in the world, Virat Kohli. Here’s what Kohli has to say about Dhoni – “He (Dhoni) was always the person who guided me initially and gave me opportunities. He gave me ample time and space to grow as a cricketer, saved me from getting dropped from the team many a times.”
  4. On Managing Emotions:
    “Captain Cool” is the title given to MS Dhoni for the calmness shown by him during tough times. When his team wasn’t doing well in the IPL matches (and the team’s management was stuck in controversy of match-fixing) he maintained his cool and performed well in the IPL and Champions Trophy both. He has maintained his demeanour on the field and has managed his emotions well when the team was not doing well. Leaders who maintain a sense of balance in tough and successful times can think through objectively on the next steps forward and lead from the front.
  5. On Crafting Winning Teams:

    Winning team of 2011 ICC World Cup
    Image Source: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/

    The most challenging task in leading a team is when you know that you are captaining a team of stars. With players like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh et al. in the team, he had the challenge to drive the team to peak performance. His humility has helped the team bond with him. He has personally accepted losses and given credit to the team for the wins. Sachin Tendulkar himself has remarked, “He [Dhoni] is the best captain I have played under.”

We are going to miss MS Dhoni as our Cricket Captain!

If you liked this article you would also love to go through my personal favourite leadership blog series –

  1. Leadership lesson from a Mumbai girl
  2. 5 Leaders 5 Messages 5 Minutes
  3. Queen of Katwe: powerful leadership lessons
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Nishit Lal
Nishit Lal
Facilitator and Author, Dance to the 7 Tunes of Success
  • Arun Rao

    There is so much that can be written about Dhoni and Leadership – that when he retires finally, am quite sure he will be much sought to share his wisdom. To me one of his greatest qualities is being humble and grounded at all times – both during victory and defeat.