Leadership Learnings “Navratnas” from Dhoni

Like many of you, I too have been a very big fan of MS Dhoni, and apart of his cricketing skills, what I always admired about him was the way he handled the team and got the team as a collective unit to perform and achieve common goals for the country. There’s a lot that we can learn from Dhoni, and, I realised how we can adopt this learning to our career – his Positive Attitude, Building Relationships, Accountability and Recognition.

Here are the top 9 learnings (or Navaratnas) that we can take MS Dhoni:

1. Having a Positive Attitude – A positive environment is crucial to a team’s performance – when you create a positive environment, you create positivity in the team and people feel motivated to perform as a team. This brings in a Positive attitude which is so crucial to a team’s success.

2. Knowing your Strengths – Have a good understanding of your team’s strengths, rather than weakness, and project the strengths strongly. Know what works well within the team.

3. Building Good Relationships – Dhoni maintained excellent relationships – not only with his team, but also with the selectors, the media, and even his competition. In your job/business, maintaining good relationships with your colleagues and team members is a key, and equally important is, building healthy relationships with prospective customers, and also the competition because you never know where help will come from when you need it. So effective networking is very important.  

4. Accountability – Be accountable for all the decisions you take, and delegate clear responsibilities within the team. 

5. Giving Recognition – You might have noticed that whenever the team won a tournament, Dhoni would have the team hold the trophy, and Dhoni himself would stand somewhere behind, and he would also send one of his team members to face the press conference so that they get due recognition. But when the team lost, he would face the press himself and own up the result. Give people their due – when you win, let the team get the credit. Praise your team members’ performance and appreciate and reward them at the earliest. But when things don’t go right, own it up – this is accountability, and you will gain a lot of respect from everyone, particularly your team. 

6. Embracing Change – Be willing to be flexible, and embrace change. It’s said that, the people with the most flexibility, control the system and have a big advantage over others. During covid, we have seen how a change in approach or a change in our business model, can create a positive impact for our business.

7. Being Innovate – Your ability to think differently, and be Innovative in a crisis situation, makes you stand out. When things went wrong, Dhoni was innovative in his strategies. When you look at situations from a problem perspective, you will only see problems. When you look at the situation from a solution perspective, you will see solutions, and that’s when you perceive change, and you trigger innovative ideas.

8. Being Calm in Adversity – Ex-cricketer Michael Holding recently said that, you never saw Dhoni get excited. If things seemed to be slipping, he would call his players, have a chat calmly and then they would go back to their places and things would automatically change. So, the learning here is, keep an eye on the future but stay calm and focussed on the present. Be grounded irrespective of how your business goes – if there are bad days, then there will also be the good days.

9. Inspiring Others – As a Leader, you don’t inspire your teammates by showing them how amazing you are. You inspire them by showing them how amazing they are. That is the true calibre of a leader.

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