Virat Kohli and the Art of Winning

Author: Arvind Thakore

Author:Arvind Thakore

I have always believed, winning is not a factor of luck. It is a habit that needs to be cultivated, internalized and acted upon. With the World T20 getting underway, I thought it would be interesting to see how the game’s best players embrace winning and what we can learn from them.

 I kick off the series with undoubtedly the most popular current cricketer on the planet today. Virtal Kohli is not only a very talented batsmen, he has exhibited qualities that even the most successful CEOs would envy. Here’s what I’ve learnt from observing him and what I believe is essential for every CEO that wants a long innings at the top of the corporate ladder.

 Before we move ahead to ascertain his credentials, let’s look at his resume. The first document we evaluate once we decide to hire someone.

Virat has captained India in 10 tests, won 5, lost 2 and drew 3. He has captained the team in 17 ODIs, Won 14 and lost 3. That’s a winning percentage of 50 in tests and 82 in ODIs. That kind of results would do the best CEO proud.

 Let’s dig deeper and see why Virat has been able to notch up these stellar numbers.

Knows the Game: That’s not as simple as it sounds. Tendulkar knows the game, so does Dhoni and Saurav. So do almost every significant international cricketer. Where Virat steps equal if not above the others is because along with a deep knowledge of the game he also has

  1. Clear Vision: He is never confused about what he wants to do.
  2. Values his game: This is clearly visible in the passion he shows on the field. He values every moment he spends in the India shirt and it shows.
  3. Cares for the game.

 Inspires and motivates: I like how he always gives credit to his team mates and even the opposition almost every time he steps up for an on-field interview. Remember how he praised Md. Amir’s spell in the Asia Cup? How he even told the bowler so, in the middle of his searing spell. That is sportsmanship (Leadership) of the highest order. That inspires his team mates to strive to be a better player and a better person.

Honest and ethical: If he is dismissed he walks out. He doesn’t wait for the umpire to call him out. The match situation does not matter. He did it again a few days back against the Kiwis. The said characteristics have been displayed by other greats of the game like Gavaskar and Tendulkar.

Good communicator: I’ve been watching and reading his interviews since his Under 19 days. This guy speaks his mind, but seldom washes dirty linen in public. He is a social media savant. He knows how to target his message depending on his audience. He is at his charismatic best on Comedy Nights with Kapil and in his professional elements during his on-field interviews. His communication skills are also a mirror to his clutter free mind.

 Decisive: He is never caught on no man’s land when batting. Either fully forward or fully back. Similarly as a captain you could fault him for being over aggressive, but never clueless. He always has a plan. Like his decision to go in with five bowlers in test cricket. Shocking. But that’s him. He takes a decision and sees it through.

 Focused on the results: One of his first pronouncements on taking over as captain of the test team was to clearly declare that “the time for process is over. We will go after results now." That sent a clear message to team mates, opponents and even the doddering satraps at BCCI that they had a winner on their hands.

 Self aware: He didn’t perform to his high standard in England and other tours in 2015. Went back to the drawing board, realized that his stance was too wide. Corrected it, came back and is pure gold as a batsman this year. That’s remarkable.

Passionate without losing perspective: His passion is clear on every single frame of live cricket coverage. But you can also see he keeps it under control and never allows it to get the better of him. So if the bowler is going through a great spell, he will dig in wear him out and then let his bat talk.

 Takes the lead: Virat has been a sankatmochan (one who bails you out from the crisis) to team India. The last match against Pakistan showed the spine of steel this man has. Ability to stand straight against the odd and lead it from the front is an uncanny ability any leader will bet for.

 There can be countless heads for the evaluation of his winning attitude, but the humility and the gratitude that he reflects on and off the field separates this man from the boys. As he takes a bow after a stellar performance yesterday, it’s time now for us to give a bow to his grit and for fireworks displayed by him at Eden’s yesterday.

This is the first article in the series of World Cup T20 and Leadership Lessons. Here is the second article "MS Dhoni - Leadership in the Hour of Crisis"

Arvind Thakore