Learn from success and defeat: Kumble

By : |June 5, 2008 0

MUMBAI, INDIA: It is very important for leaders to learn from both success and defeat, says Anil Kumble, captain of the Indian cricket team, while delivering the keynote on leadership at the ongoing SAP Summit 08 in the city. "Winning, when the chips are down, that will make you a comprehensive and compact unit. Creating a winning ethic is very important."

He advised – confront problems and concentrate on issues, instead of focusing on individuals. Then, analyze the cause and effect. Map the strengths and focus on the improvement.

He added: "You can succeed whatever your strengths are. All you need to do is to create a doubt and be consistent. Even today, after 18 years of test cricket and over 600 test wickets, I am asked at press conferences – when will you spin the ball? I don’t mind such questions, as I believe in playing to my strengths."

Kumble cited an anecdote from an Irani Trophy game, when he had been dropped from the Indian team. He had just undergone a training stint in leg spin bowling, and applied it against Mumbai. While he got four wickets in the first innings, Mumbai had gained a big lead over Rest of India. In the second innings Kumble said to himself that this was the last time he would try to do things he was not comfortable with, and stick to what he did best. "I took seven wickets, and Mumbai were bowled out for 90-odd, though we went on to lose the match," he said. This is a classic example of backing your own ability, mapping your strengths, sticking to a plan, and delivering.

Today, we need to compete globally. Therefore, you need to ensure that you keep winning over a period of time. Leadership in adversity is something everyone should pay attention to. There are various aspects. You need to look at global players vs. local players. A classic example is Shane Warne, and how he led the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL T20. Next comes listening and decision making, backing your team members, and equanimity in challenging times. For a leader, it is a constant challenge to have players improving on their game all the time.




For a good leader, communicating and listening are essential. Similarly, it is important to give credit. If a suggestion fails, it is also important to take the blame as a leader. Next, it is also important to have continuity within the team. For this, it becomes important to back you team members, and your players.

As a captain it is good to maintain a positive body language. How you maintain your body language and how you look at the opposition are key. As a captain, you also need to look at talent management. Set clear goals and roles. Provide consistent feedback. For example, a player scored 50-60 runs. You need to look at that in the context of the game. If he could have played with the tail, or bat longer, etc., it would be more beneficial for the team.

Next, it is very important that performers are rewarded and recognized. In the Indian cricket team, the performer for the day gets to attend the press conference. Within the Indian cricket team, and this is not known to many, we have a Man of the Match, irrespective of whether we have won or lost. The Man of the Match could be anyone – the 12th man, the physio, the manager, or any other player, who has not been nominated as Man of the Match for that game.

It is also important to provide security to your players. If you back your player, back him to the hilt, and allow him to perform, it will eventually happen. By giving continuity to the player, you have taken care of him, and also allowed him to free his mind and eventually, perform.

A team is always about characters, and not just 11 or 12 talented players. It could comprise of a fighter, a very talented player, who could be also the laziest, a bowler who can bowl all day, and so on. So, the team is made up of several such characters.

Succession planning is very important as well. Australia is so good at that, right from Allan Border, Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, and now, Michael Clarke is being groomed. In India, Dhoni is being groomed. Therefore, it is key to identify tomorrow’s leaders, and groom them. Some examples of good captains, who have had baptism by fire, include Graeme Smith of South Africa and Stephen Fleming of New Zealand.

We have a core group among the team, comprising largely of senior players. Now, there are a lot younger players coming in who are part of that group, as they are the future of Indian cricket.

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