What makes a leader ?

In the recently concluded T20 match between South Africa and India, the man of the match was Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. He took five wickets and became the first Indian bowler to take 5 wickets in a match in all formats of the game. That’s great and congratulations to him.

For me, he has been the man of the series in this South Arica Vs India across all formats of the game. In the first test match, when all the batting superstars failed, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar could still bat and provide support to a Hardik Pandya. When it came to being replaced for the second test, he didn’t let that dampen his spirits and played well in the 3rd test which thankfully India won. He has been a major contributor in the One-Day series and now the T20. He is just a couple of years younger than Virat Kohli, the captain of the India team.

Both Virat and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar donned the India cap for One-Day cricket before playing in test matches. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar debuted in 2012 while Virat debuted in 2008. Their test debuts were just a year apart, but Virat went on to become the Captain of the India side, while Bhuvaneshwar Kumar is a valuable team player. What sets them apart besides their special talent?

One more player has to be discussed – my favourite, M S Dhoni. He debuted in 2004 at the age of 23 … rather late for an Indian cricketeer and by 2007, he was the captain of the ODI team and by 2008, for the test team.  What set him apart?

All three are talented players in their area – as a batsman, bowler, wicket keeper. But Bhuvaneshwar Kumar doesn’t have something that a Dhoni has. Why isn’t he considered a “captain” material? Infact amongst the three, Dhoni probably is the least talented except his athleticism. He is also not a specialist. He has become a great wicket keeper, he has become a good batsman and of course he doesn’t bowl… but he has that something different which makes him a great captain. His background is similar to Bhuvaneshwar Kumar – not from the cricketing mecca in India….

I think its Dhoni’s emotional maturity and his ability to see the larger picture always. Emotional maturity is critical for a leader. Often we make the mistake of promoting the specialist, the superstar in one area of  work and they flame out as a leader. The specialist who doesn’t have emotional maturity doesn’t make a leader. In the same way, a specialist often is focussed on his/her area of speciality and misses the larger picture. A leader has to be able to fathom the consequences of his actions, the larger picture is just that.

Of all the traits of leadership, emotional maturity and the ability to see the larger picture for me float up to the top.


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