“Talent without exposure is nothing”, says Sourav Ganguly at India Leadership Council Event


Mumbai: Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, known as the most fierce Indian captain and a force to be reckoned with in the world of cricket, shared his leadership mantras and management principles from his time on the field, to eventually leading team India, and the parallels one can draw to the corporate world. The BCCI President was in conversation with Deepak Lamba, CEO, Worldwide Media, President, Times Strategic Solutions Limited at an exclusive gathering organized by The Economic Times India Leadership Council for its Members who are prominent CEOs and Managing Directors from across India Inc.

Deepak quizzed Sourav on his life experiences and anecdotes on leadership, from his exposure as a 17-year-old competing in his first international event in Perth, Australia, and being starstruck by playing with some of cricket’s greats to eventually becoming captain. “A lot of my leadership learnings have come from my own personal experiences, I have rarely relied on books,” Sourav responded. “As a youngster, being witness at close quarters to the sort of power centres within the team, please share with us your experiences that are both positive or negative, and a few anecdotes that left a mark on your mindset that led you to your captaincy,” asked Deepak. Sourav replied, “I have seen the actual transformation of cricket over time. There were people with different mindsets, and I realised very early on that there was no shortage of talent within the team,” Sourav said, “but talent without exposure is nothing.I had some great players under me who could have gone on to become captain at any time, and I was fortunate enough to meet those great players, so I saw it not only as an honour but also as an opportunity to change things, to make it an even platform for everyone to express themselves. When you selected an individual, you firstly selected them based on their abilities, and second, you selected them to succeed. And for me, their career was as important as mine because I know what it took to get here, to represent India,” Sourav replied.

On being asked about what’s common in being captain and managing BCCI, Sourav replied, “I believe that the common thing is managing individuals. This country has exceptional talent, ranging from young players to young corporate employee. I genuinely believed that if I wanted to be the captain of a successful team, I had to respect my colleagues so that they could become good players, and that it’s never the other way around; you can’t keep everything to yourself and expect good things to happen; it won’t happen,” he added.

Talking about self-belief, Deepak stated, “I believe that once a person gains a sense of belonging, an ordinary individual is capable of extraordinary feats. At what point did you gain that self-belief to lead the Indian cricket team, when given the captaincy.” Sourav responded,”everyone is nervous, with new responsibility, nervousness is good. Self-belief changes with performances, with failures and successes, it’s a cycle. No one will fail or succeed all the time, but the best in the business, will succeed more often than others. Every individual should know that when you gain success, it should be big enough to mask your failures.”

Deepak asked Sourav Ganguly to share his experience leading seniors who had previously served as his captain, “There is difference between being a captain and a leader, in a titular position as a captain, how did you make the seniors, and the youngsters believe in your leadership.” Souravstated that, “captaincy, to me, is leading a team on the ground, and leadership, to me, is building a team. So, whether I worked with Sachin, Azhar, or Dravid, I didn’t compete with them; instead, I collaborated with them as leaders and shared responsibility.”

While they discussed essential aspects of the game, Deepak delved into the evolution of the game and BCCI through the passage of time. “I’ve seen the game evolve, where players like me earned a few hundreds and now have the potential of earning crores. This game is run by the fans, by the people of this country, and by the BCCI, which was formed by cricket fans. This sport is strong and will continue to evolve. The IPL generates more revenue than the English Premier League. It makes me feel happy and proud that the sport I love has evolved to become so strong,” Sourav enthusiastically mentioned.

The event ended with a quick question and answer session with members of the India Leadership Council. Sourav explained that there weren’t any future plans at present, post the BCCI presidency.

Deepak expressed that he was inspired while talking to Sourav. “His humility and his ability to engage with everything with a smile on his face, struck out to me as perhaps the most important lesson that I could take from this session.”

Several members of ILC shared their opinion on the event. “I think the one big takeaway for me was to hire people to succeed,” said Ravi Singhal, HSBC India’s Head of Corporate Banking. “It has left a credible mark on me, where hiring is part and parcel of any bank’s business, and therefore, building that into your own culture and ethos makes all the difference. As a result, you set them up to succeed right away.”

The factors that impressed SudishPanicker, Managing Director and Head of BNY Mellon Operations India were, “The first is the collective versus individual power, and the second is to play to win, which means hiring individuals who can genuinely work with you to win,” he emphasised.

Sebi Joseph, President of OTIS, acknowledged that it was a fantastic session,”I enjoyed the nuggets of wisdom. One thing in particular, regarding developing leaders in the squad and determining whether or not these leaders will help the team improve and win the match. That is one specific thing that has struck me, and it is something that all of us must do to grow our business, since business is also like a team sport; you can draw multiple parallels between business and cricket.”

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