Back in 2016, in a post-match press conference, a reporter asked MS Dhoni, the then Indian Captain, if he was considering retirement. It was a question that could agitate the calmest people in the world. But not Dhoni.
Captain Cool called him over to his side of the conference. He asked him to sit next to him, put an arm around his shoulder and broke down his own question to him.
“Do you think I’m unfit… looking at me running?” Dhoni asked with a smile.
“No, very fast.” came the reply from the journalist.
“Do you think I can survive till the 2019 World Cup?”
“Ermm, yeah, sure.”
“Then you have answered the question.”
Nothing could be more MS Dhoni about this MS Dhoni moment. In a potentially unsettling moment, he kept his cool. And handled the situation on his own terms.
It was, in fact, one of his many lessons in leadership.
You Don’t Have To Be Loud To Lead
Dhoni never took off and waved his t-shirt on the balcony of Lord’s Cricket Ground like Dada did. He wasn’t as aggressive as current Indian captain Virat Kohli. Because he didn’t need to. In a world where leaders are expected to shout, he spoke. Shouting means you’ll be heard. But when you talk, you are listened to.
Composure Is True Confidence
It’s your actions in do or die situations that define you. And many times, you can be tempted to go all guns blazing. Not Mahi, though. In the tense, final-over situations, Dhoni kept his poker face, while his brain worked like a smooth computer. And he always took the most calculated decisions.
And while we’re not on the topic…
Confidence Is Not Ego
It’s a cliche we hear often. The greats need unquestionable belief in their ability to face the harsh criticism that comes with being a superstar. When you harden that self-belief, it usually is replaced with ego. We can wonder what would have happened if Dhoni had become victim to his ego. Maybe he wouldn’t have quit Test Cricket when he was only ten matches away from a hundred. But that’s Dhoni for you. Always ‘team-first’.
And it was his ‘team-first’ approach that led us perfectly to his next leadership quality.
Take The Right Decision, And You Will Be Rewarded
In a team where personalities were worshipped, Dhoni came and put his trust in players who would do the best for the team. People uncomfortable with change thought it was “too radical”. But being the only cricket captain to win all three major ICC trophies, Mahi has long since settled the argument in his favour.
It’s these three trophies, notably the 2011 World Cup, that the occasional cricket fan will remember MS Dhoni for. But the true cricket enthusiast knows that Captain Cool’s legacy will live beyond just what he achieved on the cricket pitch.
From the office to college societies, in whichever part of the country, it is from the unassuming from Ranchi that we’ll learn how to lead the way.