The habits of leaders

Aakash Chopra has a brilliant post on Cricinfo about the secrets of leading teams.   I particularly liked the interpretation he puts on leadership by example.

Some mistake this sort of captaincy with just performance on the field, but there’s more to it. The captain’s conduct is the easiest way to send a message across. If a captain is disciplined, like Rahul Dravid or Ricky Ponting, whose work ethics are immaculate, the team follows suit automatically. You’ll see both Dravid and Ponting do fielding drills even after a long training session, when they can easily be avoided, and that’s signal enough for others to go the extra yard. Perhaps the one-handed catch Dravid took against the Mumbai Indians last week wouldn’t have been possible without those extra drills.

On the contrary, since Warne thinks that warming up before a match is not a very useful exercise, his team stayed away from it in the second edition of the IPL. While it worked for Warne, others found it difficult to do without, and perhaps the results reflected that.

Fantastic point, and it feeds in very nicely with Jim Collin’s theory on level 5 leadership

The term “Level 5” refers to a five-level hierarchy. Level 1 relates to individual capability, Level 2 to team skills, Level 3 to managerial competence, and Level 4 to leadership as traditionally conceived. Level 5 leaders possess the skills of levels 1 to 4 but also have an “extra dimension”: a paradoxical blend of personal humility (“I never stopped trying to become qualified for the job”) and professional will (“sell the mills”). They are somewhat self-effacing individuals who deflect adulation, yet who have an almost stoic resolve to do absolutely whatever it takes to make the company great, channeling their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It’s not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious—but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution and its greatness, not for themselves.

It’s really hard for any of us to acquire the talent of a superstar, but we can follow their habits and be the best we can.  That, is probably all that a leader needs of the team.

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