Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Leaders Inspire – Perspective on leadership style of M S Dhoni & Nitish Kumar


It takes moment in life to make it special, dream of a generation, imagination of a nation, heartbeat of billions, and then the prayers finally were answered. India lifted the world cup 2011 with great pride and emotions. What Dhoni and his men have achieved will remain etched in the memory of our generation forever. Tears of joy, cries of triumph, and a sense of gratitude filled our hearts as the realization of world cup victory finally sinks to the nation.

Celebrations still continue and what really stood out was the cool and razor sharp finesse which Dhoni displayed in his leadership style throughout the tournament. Perhaps he summed it up himself when he said how his decisions could have been questioned. But as lady luck had it, Dhoni will smile all the way to the glorious annals of cricketing history, perhaps the most successful India captain ever.

One can’t help but draw parallels of his leadership style with another great leader Nitish Kumar who was the Man of Year 2010 for bringing a ray of hope and faith in the murky theater of Indian politics. Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar, won his world cup (Bihar elections) consecutively by transforming the electoral dynamics in Bihar. Both Nitish and Dhoni have uncanny similarities in the way they operate and bring out few unique dimensions of their leadership style in their own sphere of influence. They have displayed remarkably identical traits and style which really demonstrates similarity in their leadership style and ability to influence outcomes.

Communication is the key 

Dhoni has always spoken his mind out on every aspect of Indian cricket. Often criticized for being too blunt, he has never been a favorite of his bosses in BCCI. Nitish Kumar also stands out for being upfront and plain talks, he has often earned wrath of media, alliance partners and even his own team members for speaking his mind out. Another interesting aspect that stands out of Dhoni and Nitish is the way they have been humble and open enough to admit weaknesses. Dhoni didn’t mince any words in castigating his fielders publicly and even accepted that few decisions didn’t work to the plan. 

Likewise, Nitish has publicly rebuked his own party men and allies on many programs and policies. At the same time, one must acknowledge that they have set right goals, worked with their teams to strive together as a team. As the captain of the team, both have been articulating there plans and vision for the teams.

Get the best out of limited means

One of the most inspiring aspects of both these leaders has been how they have struck to the basics of managing their teams. With limited resources at hand, they have ensured that they get the best out of each situation to work to their team’s advantage and thereby imbibing the culture of self-belief and resilience. Despite India’s limited bowling attack, Dhoni marshaled team well and always had an ace in his weak link whenever opposition came to bat. Though Indian bowling attack never looked lethal, but it was very effective and result oriented when it came to the crunch. Dean Jones went to the extent of saying that Dhoni must be dreaming to win this world cup with current Indian bowling attack. With this victory, he has really proved that dreams do come true if only we work as a team.

Similarly Nitish has always worked under constraints, he never had the luxury to spend on public welfare programs, with limited resources and little financial aid he has been able to transfer a state by just ensuring that limited resources are put to optimum utilization. He has proved that good governance can lead to electoral success and one need not always fall back on petty politics of caste and chicanery to achieve political victory. Despite low per capita income & investment, lowest Credit deposit ratio in the country, Bihar has had the 2nd highest growth rate in the country for the last 5 years. Bihar chief minister got applauds from none other than Melinda Gates for his achievements in increasing the immunization rate in Bihar . “In 2005, when Nitish Kumar became the chief minister of Bihar, the burden of disease in the state was massive. It also had a low immunization rate, 33 per cent compared to the global average of 70 per cent. By 2010, however, Bihar’s rate had risen to 66 per cent,” said Melinda

Lead from the front

Boy.. who can question Dhoni on his ability to lead from the front ( though he remains behind the wicket). When it came to the rubber hitting the road, Dhoni stood up for the challenge like a true champion. Not only did he score well and took the battle back to the opposition, he ensured he is there till the end to give the final punch, and what a thump it was. 

Nitish, just like Dhoni has always taken things head on and confronted his party members, policy makers on every public policy decision. He was the first one to come out and declare his assets when he enforced public declaration of assets and wealth owned by all public servants. They have both inspired there teams by their actions and has also given them hope in times of despair. 

What’s even more surprising is that both Dhoni and Nitish has been called the Obama of cricket and politics respectively. Despite many parallels, both are believed to be inspiring leaders in their own rights.

Delegation, Decentralization &  Team work

Gary Kirsten went on record to state how Dhoni gave him complete freedom to work in his areas. He said “Dhoni was the man in charge once they crossed the rope” while he continued doing his job off the field. Great leaders are not the most talented; they realize they realize that as long as they get the best from everyone there job is done. Dhoni as a batsmen and wicket is not the greatest of all, but he helped the team achieve its peak with help of Kirsten and Sachin and other senior players. He has allowed every one the space to breathe and creating a sense of joint ownership with harmony.

Unlike both Nitish and Dhoni predecessors, there was no noise in public space to display sense of being in control or vulgar display of authority on trivial issues. Nitish Kumar has delegated few key responsibilities to his key advisor N K Singh ( Rajya Sabha MP & Economist) & Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi. Just like Kirsten, N K Singh is believed to be the master strategist and close advisor of Nitish Kumar. Kumar also re-energized the local governments in the form of panchayats or assemblies, by giving them more responsibility for areas such as education.

Dare to dream and take risk 

Both Dhoni and Nitish have been non-conformist in their decision making style. They have dared to risk their own stake by taking decisions that may have backfired. Dhoni’s decision to drop Ashwin and take Nehra may have backfired but it proved otherwise in the match against Pakistan. Similarly, the decision to promote himself in the batting order during the final match would have come for severe criticism if he had failed to perform with the bat. His ability to back his team and stand for his decisions has really earned respect from his team and peers. 

Nitish has also charmed his followers and critics with his ability to implement out of box ideas which have had significant impact on social development in Bihar. Who would have imagined few years back that girls in Bihar would ride all the way to school and women’s will get 50% reservations in panchayat. Today, Bihar’s leads in various many initiatives, which other states are emulating. Programmes like Sarva Shikhsa Abhiyan, Mid-Day Meal scheme, NREGS and innovative schemes to suit marginal sections, setting up of District Child Protection Units (DCPUs) are few firsts which Bihar has stood out under leadership of Nitish Kumar. His party has often warned him of losing his vote base but Nitish has always implemented his ideas of development.

Humble beginning and private family life

Both Dhoni & Nitish have humble background and they continue to keep their family life very personal. Dhoni’s father worked in MECON and his brother and sister have also stayed away from public eyes. His close friends still count on him for any support. Nitish has also kept his personal intensely private; his family has always been away from media eyes, not much is known about his brothers and only son.

With all the glory and achievements, both of them there feet firmly stuck on the ground. They are indeed role models for today’s youth and inspire everyone to dream the impossible.


Mahasweta Paul said...

A good analogy , I must say, you have drawn. Looking forward to such good thought provoking articles/works from you. All the best.

Education said...

Really nice article. I like it. Thank you for sharing.

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