Leadership Lessons From Cricketer Rahul Dravid

Rahul Dravid bid farewell this Friday to test cricket – his passion and his profession. In his retirement speech he eloquently described his 15 years career manifesto:

“My approach to cricket has been reasonably simple: it was about giving everything to the team, it was about playing with dignity and it was about upholding the spirit of the game. I hope I have done some of that. I have failed at times, but I have never stopped trying. It is why I leave with sadness but also with pride.”

In one of the interviews, Dravid mentioned he read autobiographies of great men to learn the lessons of life. Now with his 15+ years career he inspires many to follow in his footpaths. Business managers, especially Chief Risk Officers (CROs) takeaways from his life can be clubbed in three main attributes of his personality.

1. The Gentleman

Rahul Dravid is equally known for his batting and his gentlemanly conduct. He left his sporting legacy spotless, by putting his best foot forward not only on the batting crease but also in public domain. Fame and money didn’t affect him, and he continued to be humble and dignified.

Even his toughest opponents – the Australian team – honored him. He in December 2011, became the first non-Australian cricketer to give the annual lecture at the Bradman Oration. While giving his tribute to Sir Donald Bradman, he recalled Sir Don’s inspiring thoughts in the following words –

That the finest athletes had, along with skills, a few more treasured qualities : to conduct their life with dignity, with integrity, with courage, and modesty. As this he believed were totally compatible with pride, ambition, determination and competitiveness.”

Dravid further added – “Maybe these words should be put up in cricket dressing rooms all over the world. ” Maybe organizations should incorporate these words in their mission statements and core values.

In the business world, some  believe that business ethics and competitiveness are mutually exclusive goals. A few CXOs think that any means can be used to achieve their ambition. While most have participated in sports and played the game by its rules, they don’t give a second thought on breaking business rules.

CROs have a double role to play. They must be role models for balancing ethical conduct and business growth. They also have to ensure that others don’t compromise ethics for monetary advantages and personal agendas.

2. The Wall

Dravid got the nickname “The Wall” from Reebok advertisements and it stayed with him. The nickname was so popular that one twitter @NigelBritto today posted this amusing tweet – “As is usual in India, they could name a street after #RahulDravid. But then, the Americans have already done it – Wall Street.”

During his career, he mostly held number 3 position in the batting order. He made the middle order impregnable and his consistent performance made bowlers miserable. When the top order collapsed, he showed grace under fire. Nothing deterred him, his concentration on the job at hand was so great. He protected his team.

In the corporate world, CROs basically hold the number 3 position and have to bat under crises when top order is collapsing.  They have to provide the organizations a circle of protection and a defense against all risks. CROs are responsible for risk identification and mitigation – strategic, operational and financial. Hence, they are “The Wall” for their companies.

3. Mr. Dependable

Dravid’s teammates nicknamed him “Mr. Dependable” as he put the team before personal glory. While he is a batsman, when the team needed a wicket keeper, he pitched in. He did the job even when he was publicly   criticized for lacking skills. He is also a great fielder and holds a few records on catching balls. He gave up captaincy when he felt he wasn’t the best man for the job. He retired to give new blood a chance to make it to the big league. In all his decisions, the team came first, and none of the decisions were based on egoism.

Amazing attributes for a person of his caliber. Indian team was fortunate to have such a team player. When he led, he thought of the team; when he followed, he worked with the team. Companies invest heavily to inculcate team spirit but a few fail due to the aggressively competitive organization culture.

Again, CROs have to wear various hats and be there for the business units to help and handhold them. Whether it is for managing financial risks, or risks of entering emerging markets or managing disaster scenarios, they are the person business teams must rely on. Business teams must trust the CROs to give the right advise. CROs must be the “Mr. Dependable” in the organization.

Closing Thoughts

Dravid is leaving a spectacular legacy and will always be counted among cricketing greats. His batting won him millions of fans and his unassuming behavior respect from everybody. He conquered all the lows of his career with quiet determination and persistence. There are very few public figures who inspire for both – skills and character. A big thank you to him for being a role model for an entire generation. There are numerous lessons for corporate citizens to learn from his life. Maybe now we need to wait for his autobiography.

References:

  1. ESPN – Rahul Dravid’s Retirement Speech
  2. Rahul Dravid’s annual lecture on Bradman’s Oration
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3 comments on “Leadership Lessons From Cricketer Rahul Dravid

  1. Lovely Article. Comparing and drawing parallels with what Dravid used to do with what CRO’s of companies need to do. Interesting take. Article on my blog focussed on management takeaways in general for corporates, but this one being for specific job role in the company is good. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Definately enriching post…

  2. Pingback: Rahul Dravid as a role model for corporate managers… « differentissomething

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