Category: Leadership

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Sometimes I think that leadership is dependent to a large degree on luck. Also, that nothing succeeds like success. KKR has won the IPL. Suddenly everybody is talking about the great leadership qualities of Gautam Gambhir, the mentor. His taciturnity and unsmiling face are being seen as the signs of a thinking and mature leader. Had KKR performed  badly then the very same attributes would have attracted criticism. Today Gambhir is the epitome of leadership and likely to be the next coach of the Indian team. Similarly, Chandra Kant Pandit as the coach of KKR is being labeled as a great leader. Shreyas Aiyyar the KKR captain is now being hailed as the future India captain. KKR strategy, team work and motivation are being praised by all. I wonder what the experts would have said if KKR failed to qualify for the play offs.

On the other end of the spectrum is the story of Mumbai Indians who despite having a star-studded side have performed poorly and are at the bottom of the table. Suddenly, there is everything wrong   about the leadership style of the captain Hardik Pandya. It seems his personality is such that he cannot carry the team together. He is claimed to be at loggerheads with the ex captain Rohit Sharma. Hardik and Rohit are evidently not getting along and this has negatively rubbed off on the entire team. Incidentally, when Gujarat Titans won the IPL in 2022 it was captained by the very same Hardik Pandya and paeans were sung about his great leadership qualities which propelled Gujarat Titans to the title in their debute season. It would be interesting to study how he fell from the zenith of a great leader to the very nadir of leadership. Readers would recall that so impressed was BCCI with his leadership that he was appointed captain of the Indian T20 team. Success has many friends while there are no takers for failure. Leadership is a factor of circumstances and luck to a large extent.

Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the greatest leaders of all time. He is reputed to have famously said that he wanted Generals who are lucky. It has been my experience also that luck and situational factors play a major role in determining one’s success in life and the winner is always supposed to have all the qualities of a great leader. A CEO of a company may have all the attributes of a leader but have the misfortune of a becoming a CEO at a time when the economy is in bad shape and his particular industry is facing adverse market conditions. He would most likely end up being branded as a failure. Conversely a CEO with average leadership acumen might be hailed as a transformational leader if his CEO tenure coincides with a period when the economy is on the rise and his industry is facing favourable conditions. Similarly, my experience In the IAS has been that if the decision one takes delivers good results then one is supposed to be blessed with all the positive qualities. However, if the decision back fires then one is open to all forms of criticism from all sides.

My take is that good luck and circumstances along with bad luck are a part of life. The leader is not immune to these vagaries. A true leader would be one who is able to recognize these periods and respond with calmness and maturity. A genuine leader should maximize the returns during periods of good luck while minimizing the losses at times when things are not in his favour. It is just like when a batsman is in top form he should not waste the opportunity by getting out in the sixtees. He should go for a century or even a double hundred. When he is out of form it is best to be patient and stick around on the pitch for as long as you can and hope for the best.