I am sure Chakde India will soon inspire many management articles, much like Lagaan did. I found it very inspiring, specially at a time that I am going through some management and leadership challenges myself. So what where the leadership mantras of Chakde coaching?
Well the clichéd one was there – have hairy audacious goals. Of course it is important to have goals that are really challenging. But I think what was different here was that the goal was a cause in itself. And more importantly, there is absolute belief in the cause. The cause could be a particular goal or an organization itself. And it helps to have the belief in own capability to accomplish the cause.
Integrating the team isn’t easy and it starts by breaking the norms. Alignment with the goal/cause from the very outset is critical to set the pace. “Mukhe sirf eik mulk ka naam sunai deta hai – India”. Breaking norms, personal egos and past individual performances and aligning the team with a new goal, a new cause is critical. There are no compromises in alignment. Either you are with it fully or you are out. I feel a leader personally inducting new team members plays a critical role in alignment with the cause and setting expectations.
One of the most interesting messages in the movie was about why the team is playing. “First and foremost, you are playing for the country, then playing for the team, and lastly if you have any strength left, playing for yourself.” We often see teams fail because of individual or departmental tug of wars. And what are we willing to sacrifice for alignment and teamwork to meet the goal/cause? It takes a lot of courage to believe that team work is critical, more than specific skill. It takes a lot of courage to put your best players sit on the bench until they put their own egos aside and work as a team. I have often seen many managers, including me sometimes, fall into the trap of believing that skill is more important than team work. We give in to blackmail of egos of few skilled people and believe that the goal will be met by only a few individuals. The biggest challenge in today’s corporate India will be overcoming the fear that the best players will simply quit and join another company if you keep them on bench. It might be worth overcoming that fear.
Another critical aspect of Chakde coaching is expecting the best from each one and not making any excuses about it. Very clearly to achieve the goal, second best just won’t do. Pushing the team to perform beyond their capabilities is key to achieving the goals.
Having the goal, a cause and the bravado and attitude to achieve it is the first step. These will take you only so far, like getting the sponsorship by playing the men’s team in the movie. The goal and attitude has to be combined with other critical aspects – training and strategy.
Having the right skill is imperative. And a lot of training and practice involved in building the right skill. This is a continuous process. While past individual performances may have won many laurels, it is important to continually keep sharpening the saw. It is not enough the rest on your past laurels. Training and practice is an ongoing process and a very rigorous one at that. It helps if you start with an open mind to learn new skills. Past performances color our views and close our minds into believing that we know it all. New challenges require new skills and harder practice sessions.
Without strategy the game won’t be won. It is important to know the nuances of the game you are playing and the competition you are facing. Succeeding in achieving the goal requires taking quick decisions and even changing your decisions based on the situation. And while the competition may have better technology or even a seemingly unbeaten strategy, it is important to figure out what your strengths are and play them and the right time. Whether it is beating the man-to-man marking or playing aggressively, using the right strategy and the right time is critical.
So if you haven’t watched the movie yet, go ahead. Watch it on big screen for greater impact. And hey, management fundas aside, just enjoy the moments of winning…
Sometimes winning is everything