Management lessons from our cricket victory in Australia

I am a fan of cricket but do not claim much knowledge about the game . I have been in the corporate world for almost four decades and believe that we have lessons to learn from any sport for us. I was fortunate to witness on TV this historic victory in Brisbane, where India defeated Australia after more than three decades on this ground.

I have tried to summarise the lessons organisations and individuals can learn from this fabulous victory. This can enable ordinary individuals like us and organisations to turnaround from any crisis situation.

1. Failure can teach you more than success: After India lost to Australia in Adelaide and were bundled out for 36, many critics had written the team off. This happens to us in real life too. A big failure can lead many of our well wishers to lose faith in our abilities. It may also lead to demoralisation. This incident reinforces that failure can teach you more lessons than success. The lowest score by any Indian team in an innings was enough to wake them up and resolve to look forward and excel in the next three tests.

2. Leaders lead from the front: After our captain returned to India due to personal reasons, we were led by a young unassuming leader. He not only led from the front by hitting a century in the next test but also gave space and encouragement to his team members to give in their best to the team.

3. Every crisis can bring out the best in you: This humiliating defeat in Adelaide was a great wake up call for all the team members. They literally rose from the ashes and conquered. The resolve to win and give their best was seen in every movement of the players. Every individual was not only giving his best but also was enabling each other to excel.

4. Team work produces greater results then individual brilliance: While every team has individual players who are excellent, it is established through this win that team work provides better results than individual brilliance. A leader needs to work like a conductor in a symphony orchestra so that he is able to get the best out of every team member.

5. Focus and commitment enables you to get over adversaries: We had some players being abused racially. This is not only deplorable but unacceptable. However, these players not only gave their best but responded to the abuses by speaking through their ball and the bat rather than abusing back to the irresponsible spectators.

6. Nobody is indispensable in any organisation: There were only two or three players who played all the four test matches. This happened more by default due to injuries rather than by design. This however re-established the fact the nobody is indispensable in any organisation leave alone a cricket team.

7. Merit alone leads you to success: While many people still believe that success eludes those who do not have resources or necessary connections in life. At least four players in this team, who hail from humble backgrounds have proved that merit alone determines your success in life. Hard work can take you wherever you want to reach in life.

8. Resources are only means to an end and not an end in itself: The limited resources of the some of the players in the team before they played for the country did not deter them from excelling. This means that resources are only a means to an end and not an end in itself. We can succeed even with limited resources if we are determined to do so.

9. Critics can demoralise you but cannot prevent you from winning: While almost the whole cricketing world including the so called pundits had written the team off after the Adelaide loss, they proved that critics can only make you more determined to win. This is equally true in organisations if we take the criticism into our stride and learn from the mistakes of the past and move to on we can give our best in the future.

10. Humility gains more respect : A leader who leads from the front and is calm and humble gets you great results. This victory has proved that humility is still a great virtue for a leader to possess especially to tide over a crisis and lead the team to victory literally from the ashes.

I learnt a lot from this episode as an individual and I hope organisations, teams and individuals do the same as we reflect and rejoice on the Indian team’s historic victory down under.

As in the photo above, one can learn from every sport in the world even sitting outside the fence.

Failures can lead you to greater success if we convert a crisis into an opportunity.

S Ramesh Shankar

22nd Jan 2021

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