Who is a good leader? What makes winning teams? How are some people able to achieve success at every stage in their life, while others succeed only for a while? Anita Bhogle, advertising and communication consultant, and sports-commentator Harsha Bhogle answer the questions in The Winning Way 2.0: Learnings From Sport For Managers, which marries learnings from management with sport.
The husband-wife duo supplement each other, explaining why ability alone is not enough to succeed, while digging into examples from sport to see how they can benefit managers. Edited excerpts from an interview:
What can business learn from sport? Do they both have anything in common?
The playground has always been a great learning ground for people. Sport teaches you to be humble because success is not forever; nor is failure for that matter, and tomorrow will be another day, another chance. In today’s uncertain and complex world, resilience and optimism are good things to possess and sport has them on display almost every single day. Sport encourages team behaviour—selfish players get found out very easily. In the cut-throat world of business, that is a big challenge. There are also similarities in cricket where the captain has to take the field and perform alongside his teammates and yet not let his leadership get affected by his own performance.
Is talent enough to ensure success at every stage in life?
Of course great sportspersons are incredibly talented but that’s not the only thing they possess. Behind the spectacular cover drives and bicycle kicks that spectators see there would have been hours and hours of strenuous and disciplined practice. When you have practised a shot or a catch thousands of times, you make it look easy. If you are talented, you can breeze through the first few levels easily. It’s then that you find that everyone around you is almost equally talented, and then it’s your attitude that determines how much further you will go. All those who look super-talented at the Ranji level don’t necessarily make it to the national side. The shape of a meritocracy is invariably a pyramid.
You say too much winning can be dangerous.
Winning is largely desirable but one needs to be aware of possible side effects. Some can get complacent, arrogant or even over-confident on getting there. In sporting terms, players can lose rigour in practice, just turn up assuming they will win or take competition lightly. In business, you could miss trends if you let your guard down or underestimate competition. Chronic winners can be vulnerable if they get smug and comfortable. Coaches focus a lot on challenging teams to keep them hungry.
Is there any universal formula for winning?
Essentially, the ingredients that go into success are largely the same, whatever the field you might be working in. In The Winning Way, we call it the winning triangle—ability, attitude and passion. Ability or talent is essential to success but if you look around, a large number of people are talented. So as you get to a higher level of competition, it ceases to be the differentiator. You need good attitude, great work ethic to go with that talent and make you a success. When you look at the very best—a (Sachin) Tendulkar, (Roger) Federer or a (Lionel) Messi—their X factor is their passion. Look at the achievers in music, business, science or whatever else, you will find this combination of ability, attitude and passion.