October 19, 2008

The four kinds of leadership

Before you start wondering why I'm talking about leadership and its forms, I'll get to the point
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Hello readers,

A friend of mine who works in a software company once asked a management guru for tips on leadership. To his surprise the guru advised him to talk to his own father and learn a few things from him. My friend's father is not a guru or leader by any standards and my friend explained that to the guru. The guru responded by saying that we all have a leader in us and we often act upon that without realizing it. According to him, there are four kinds of leadership and all of us exercise that from time to time, often unconsciously.

The guru asked my friend whether he remembered ever having burnt his hand or something else with a matchstick when he was a kid; or whether he'd spilled food or a drink on a carpet or a bed. Of course, he had. Well, what happened then? He got a scolding no doubt and was told not to repeat the mistake again. That has happened with all of us. We were told to stay away from matchboxes and be more careful with food and drinks. We didn't ask for a reason and none was provided. We were asked to trust our folks unquestioningly and always do as we were told. That is the first kind of leadership: the 'leadership by direction'.

Then as we grew up and started going to school, the focus was mainly on studies and especially on the subjects we weren't very good at. We were not only told to devote more time and effort on that subject but were also promised rewards if we scored high marks in that particular subject. My friend was weak at mathematics and was promised a bicycle if he did well. He did, eventually, do well enough and got that coveted bicycle. This is the second kind of leadership—'leadership by seduction'.

We grew up a little more, now well versed with the first two kinds of leadership, when we were introduced to the third. Now, we started discussing career-options with our parents: college, institution, organization and all. Parents would give their inputs keeping our interests in mind and finally would have a say/influence on the final decision. This kind of leadership is called the 'leadership by association'.

Once we got out of college and started working, we would seldom go to our parents for advice. We would inform them of our decision to quit or join a certain organization rather than ask them for their opinion. Parents are smart enough to understand that and would patiently listen to our story and would delegate us to do whatever we feel is right. This is called the 'leadership by delegation'.

Now, before you start wondering why I'm talking about leadership and its forms, I'll get to the point. Listening to my friend’s discourse about the four kinds of leadership, I wondered whether it was the same case in cricket as well. All captains would go back and forth from the first to the fourth kind depending on the situation and the person they were dealing with. A kid (read beginner, at any level) would be directed to do certain things. If he's a bowler, he would be told to bowl at a certain length to a certain batsman or if he happens to be a batsman, to play a certain role in the team. The kid would rarely ask questions and would follow the orders to the T. So there's the first kind of leadership.

Some cricketers would be lured into doing something when attracted by a reward, whether it comes as a promotion in the batting order or getting the new ball against a weaker opposition. But that only happens if they do as they're told on innumerable occasions before that. So the law of seduction works here.

But once the guy becomes a seasoned campaigner and knows (mostly) what is expected of him, the captain would discuss strategies with him. He would involve the player in the decision-making process and would, in turn, get the desired result i.e. what the captain wants on the day. This is leadership by association.

Then comes a time when the player is so experienced that he doesn't need to be told, at all. He knows what works best for him and no amount of persuasion would make him think otherwise. To get the best from that guy, the captain must respect his experience and allow him whatever he's comfortable with: if he's at his best batting a certain way or bowling to a certain field, the captain should allow that to happen as far as possible without ruining the team's chances of winning. The player, having played a lot of cricket, acknowledges that freedom and rarely lets the captain or team down. This was the last kind of leadership—'leadership by delegation'.

So, whether it is parents dealing with their kids, the management guru teaching his wards or a cricket captain leading his side, all of them are using the abovementioned tools of leadership to make their respective campaigns successful.

Incidentally, I've also been given the responsibility to lead Delhi this season and perhaps I could use the tools I've mentioned in this post.

Once again....please wish me and my team luck.

Cheers

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kishore on November 4, 2008, 21:02 GMT

    Great Post. I like you honest comments! One of the few guys who calls a spade a spade. Congrats on being made captain of Delhi. You have a great future as a commentator and journalist. Lets wait for few more years to see if the "bunch of jokers" give you once last chance.

    All the best.

  • Jojo on October 27, 2008, 7:51 GMT

    Hi Akash, Nice to hear that you have made me captain. Your goal should be to win the Irani trophy the next year,that means you,as a leader can guide the team to improve its performance over last year and try to perform better in the One-day Championship for the states.

    One more thing,you need not worry after you retire,with your writing ability and style,there will be lot of people in queue for ur services.

    Wishing you luck as always!

    Regards, Jojo

  • Subash, from Morocco on October 26, 2008, 19:14 GMT

    dear akash, kudos to your thoughtful approach. Incidently I was also born in Agra and did my schooling from St. George,s. Which school you went to in Agra?? thanks in advance for addressing my message. Hope to see you sometime in Tanger where we had some cricket.

  • Elayaraja Muthuswamy on October 26, 2008, 18:20 GMT

    Hello Akash, Best Wishes to you and your team for the upcoming season. Wish to see you in National colors as the middle order slots are going to be available soon.

  • Vivek Sharma on October 24, 2008, 7:48 GMT

    Dear Aakash Chopra,

    Great Piece of Aricle ! Maybe After your playing year you should join IIM / FMS as prof of management.

    Good luck for Captaining Delhi: Surley Delhi will do well under you.

  • Vivek Sharma on October 24, 2008, 7:48 GMT

    Dear Aakash Chopra,

    Great Piece of Aricle ! Maybe After your playing year you should join IIM / FMS as prof of management.

    Good luck for Captaining Delhi: Surley Delhi will do well under you.

  • Krishnaswamy Narasimhan on October 24, 2008, 2:57 GMT

    Akash, You are adept in one more profession other than Cricket, i.e Journalism. It should keep you busy once you decide to hang your cricketing shoes. All the Best. krish.(USA)

  • Manju on October 23, 2008, 18:28 GMT

    Good Post Aakash! I sincerely wish that your batsmanship flourish as fluently as your penmanship.

  • Dr Ramakrishna on October 23, 2008, 7:55 GMT

    To Anil, In order to disseminate the pressure to team members, Akash cited 4 different scenarios to choose. He gave 4 best examples on how to deliver responsibilities based on team members expertise and skills.

  • Sundra Reddy on October 22, 2008, 10:19 GMT

    Congratulations Akash! All the best to you and Delhi!

  • kishore on November 4, 2008, 21:02 GMT

    Great Post. I like you honest comments! One of the few guys who calls a spade a spade. Congrats on being made captain of Delhi. You have a great future as a commentator and journalist. Lets wait for few more years to see if the "bunch of jokers" give you once last chance.

    All the best.

  • Jojo on October 27, 2008, 7:51 GMT

    Hi Akash, Nice to hear that you have made me captain. Your goal should be to win the Irani trophy the next year,that means you,as a leader can guide the team to improve its performance over last year and try to perform better in the One-day Championship for the states.

    One more thing,you need not worry after you retire,with your writing ability and style,there will be lot of people in queue for ur services.

    Wishing you luck as always!

    Regards, Jojo

  • Subash, from Morocco on October 26, 2008, 19:14 GMT

    dear akash, kudos to your thoughtful approach. Incidently I was also born in Agra and did my schooling from St. George,s. Which school you went to in Agra?? thanks in advance for addressing my message. Hope to see you sometime in Tanger where we had some cricket.

  • Elayaraja Muthuswamy on October 26, 2008, 18:20 GMT

    Hello Akash, Best Wishes to you and your team for the upcoming season. Wish to see you in National colors as the middle order slots are going to be available soon.

  • Vivek Sharma on October 24, 2008, 7:48 GMT

    Dear Aakash Chopra,

    Great Piece of Aricle ! Maybe After your playing year you should join IIM / FMS as prof of management.

    Good luck for Captaining Delhi: Surley Delhi will do well under you.

  • Vivek Sharma on October 24, 2008, 7:48 GMT

    Dear Aakash Chopra,

    Great Piece of Aricle ! Maybe After your playing year you should join IIM / FMS as prof of management.

    Good luck for Captaining Delhi: Surley Delhi will do well under you.

  • Krishnaswamy Narasimhan on October 24, 2008, 2:57 GMT

    Akash, You are adept in one more profession other than Cricket, i.e Journalism. It should keep you busy once you decide to hang your cricketing shoes. All the Best. krish.(USA)

  • Manju on October 23, 2008, 18:28 GMT

    Good Post Aakash! I sincerely wish that your batsmanship flourish as fluently as your penmanship.

  • Dr Ramakrishna on October 23, 2008, 7:55 GMT

    To Anil, In order to disseminate the pressure to team members, Akash cited 4 different scenarios to choose. He gave 4 best examples on how to deliver responsibilities based on team members expertise and skills.

  • Sundra Reddy on October 22, 2008, 10:19 GMT

    Congratulations Akash! All the best to you and Delhi!

  • Sidhanta Patnaik on October 21, 2008, 11:45 GMT

    Congratulations on being entrusted with the captaincy of the Delhi team. Captaining a squad from DDCA is as tough as leading the country. DDCA for long now has been affected by red tapism. However after last year's triumph I am sure things will look better. With respect to your views on leadership, it is agreeable that everyone has some leadership trait in themselves but it is a matter of self motivation to ensure that you display them at the right moment.

  • Anil on October 21, 2008, 7:39 GMT

    hi akash do you know what Mr dhony reflected on leadership " Leadership is all about accumulating pressure and disseminating to the team members in a most appropriate manner for the desired results" How you think on the above? there is something in that for us to take. I had applied that theory in my office and got wonderfull results. A 315% increase in collection efficiency. If you apply that in future Renji trophy,you can keepthe trophy for one more year. Please also try to speak to him, he will have few more lessons on man management. He will be in delhi for the third test and a good time for you hopes to see you lifting Renji trophy ( There will be vacancies in Middle order in near future, why cant you bat at no 3 or 4 for delhi and show your talent since Badri and kaif is knocking the door too often) Hopes to see your reflections on my views.

  • shitesh on October 20, 2008, 12:39 GMT

    nice one Akash. wish you best of luck for your team and for you. wanna see you in test side when ganguly retires. keep it up your tempo on the field and off the field(when you are writing). I really like your blog. keep going keep rocking.

  • chewing gum on October 20, 2008, 12:27 GMT

    wonder if you still remember that you are a cricketer?you should have been a writer instead...neway now that you are probably stuck in the worng job all the best for captaining delhi and hope you win the championship this time too !! god bless.

  • Aditya Mookerjee on October 20, 2008, 12:16 GMT

    My father tried all the types of delegation, when I was a kid. Like Julius Ceasar, one must be perceived to be "Constant as the Northern Star". One must feel, that the leader is constant in the sense, that he does not act on whims. This is the main part of leadership. If a leader is serious in happiness, and serious in unhappiness, then things are horribly wrong. In my experience, no action of mine, in the past, can be excused, because I was happy or unhappy. A person who is happy, in life, is very unhappy, on the point of death. This is pointless. If a person is happy in life, he should be happy in death. A leader should be evaluated in situations of paradox.

  • good friend on October 20, 2008, 12:07 GMT

    DEAR ANJO, aakash chopra is a criket player not a management guru:) and the points of leadership he has mentioned covers almost all aspects of leadeship, if you thnik rationally. Leading from behind is not diffrent from "leadership by direction", leading by dominating tells alot about onces ego which a good mentor would never do:) though the polite word to it can be "leadership by association".

  • Good friend on October 20, 2008, 11:53 GMT

    Very nicely written article aakash! It is authenticated by the number of responses that you have been getting! your friend seems to be a real smart dude! Wish you all the luck for your new role and i hope you prove your worth as a mentor.

  • Aakash on October 20, 2008, 9:37 GMT

    Dear all, Thx a lot for your wishes. :) Really appreciated. Anjo, I know that there're a lot of other forms of leadership...leading by example, leading by domination (as u'd mentioned), leading from behind...so on and so forth...but mentioning everything would've been a little tough. :) Thx once again. Regards, Aakash

  • ramnath on October 20, 2008, 8:53 GMT

    i am not sure if captaincy will bring you closer to a test spot. Right now the opening pair of sehwag and gambhir is well established. I would say you have to improve your attacking skills a lot before hoping for a test spot. Till then, good luck with grinding out second tier opposition !

  • Ananthasubramanian on October 20, 2008, 7:32 GMT

    Good luck captain. I wish all the good luck for your team as well. Hope Tamil Nadu emerge victors this time :) :)

  • OjONam on October 20, 2008, 7:14 GMT

    Hi, nice parralellism between two worlds. I would like to add it's also important to use the right leadership at the right time. For some people, leadership by delegation may be the right thing at a very young age itself. It's a question of maturity too.

  • Suresh on October 20, 2008, 6:40 GMT

    Excellent piece Aakash. Just shows the deep thinking process that you put behind the way you read the game. It will certainly stand you in good stead.

    All the best to you personally. My apologies for not being able to wish your team luck though. After all I am from Mumbai...

  • Satish on October 20, 2008, 6:21 GMT

    Congratulations, wish you the very best! As you grapple with cleadership, do keep writing, its a joy to read your column.

  • Vinayakam Murugan on October 20, 2008, 4:35 GMT

    Best of luck, Aakash.

  • Prof NT Rao on October 20, 2008, 3:56 GMT

    Dear Akash, I had been a silent admirer of your exceptional writing abilities for a long time. I can not keep hiding any longer. You are brilliant here too. Nice way to correlate our ever guiding 'guru - father' who guide(d)s us through basic management principles and cricket leadership.

    May you enlighten us with your solid cricket that you are known for and with your jornalistic brilliance for a long long time. I sincerely hope that you would make a come back.

    Regards NT Rao

  • Adarsh` on October 20, 2008, 3:12 GMT

    Good One. You seem to be very matured in your thinking. Wish you all the best. Keep Going.

  • mahesh on October 20, 2008, 2:50 GMT

    dear aakash,

    best of luck with the captaincy. i hope delhi can win back-to-back ranji trophies. moreover, i hope you can personally improve on last seasons performance and make it back into the indian test squad. you never should've been dropped in the first place.

    cheers, mahesh

  • Kishore on October 20, 2008, 2:45 GMT

    Dear Mr Chopra.. Your writing is so refreshing, you would make a great writer. Please do keep writing and all the best for you and your team.

  • Abhishek on October 20, 2008, 2:15 GMT

    Congratulations, Akash! Hope your team and you go well this season. Will be interesting to see how you go as captain, and do keep us updated on your insights on captaincy and any leadership pickles that you face along the way. Theres so much all of us can learn from the game. I enjoy reading your blog...keep it up! Cheers! Abhishek.

  • Harsha on October 20, 2008, 1:58 GMT

    Great news Akash....Congratulations.Sure, you will do a great job.

  • Aakash's Fan on October 20, 2008, 1:39 GMT

    Best of Luck Aakash..I know you would take Delhi to greater heights and I hope to see you playing in the Indian Test team once again.

  • Venky R on October 20, 2008, 1:13 GMT

    Hey Akash. It is nice to see you write - it is clear and eloquent. You are right in that management is a lot of learning from day-to-day life.

  • Anjo on October 20, 2008, 0:49 GMT

    Congratulations on being made skipper, and good luck! Now Cmon Aakash, you're from India, surely you know about the other kinds of leadership. After you finish college and land a job, your parents fix your marriage and no matter how you protest ultimately it is their decision. This is "leadership by domination", it is like sending a nightwatchman to face a vicious pace bowling attack in fading light. Jokes aside, there are so many aspects to leadership that I think the four you have mentioned don't fully encompass all aspects. There is leadership by example, leadership by discipline, tactical and strategic etc, I could go on and on. Ultimately leadership is what you make out of it, how well you are able to get the best out of each individual and the team towards your objective. All the best!

  • Pramod on October 20, 2008, 0:18 GMT

    Interesting read and wonderful to know that you are now captain of Delhi.

    Saurav Ganguly will be creating a vacancy, and I hope you can join the squad as the 5th member from Delhi and take his spot :)

  • Shefali on October 19, 2008, 23:22 GMT

    Hi Aakash, good luck with leading Delhi this year. I'm sure you will do a good job, and think you are lucky this year in the sense that you are leading one of the most talented sides in the Ranji trophy. Having also tasted victory last year I'm sure all the boys are ready for the challenge. Good luck, and hope to read many more of your blogs.

  • Denzil on October 19, 2008, 22:00 GMT

    Nice article, I really loved the way the analogy is made. All the best for your stint as Delhi captain and hope to see you soon in the Indian line up.

  • Balaji on October 19, 2008, 18:28 GMT

    Great News, Aakash. I wish you and the Delhi team all the best. I am sure your cricket knowledge would come to the fore becaue of this opportunity

  • Parichay on October 19, 2008, 18:13 GMT

    Whoa man, great news Akash. Congrats I cant think of someone more deserving. Heres wishing u all the best and heres hoping captaincy will bring you closer to that Test berth.

  • Vivek on October 19, 2008, 18:10 GMT

    Akash, A good post. Wish you all the luck at captaining Delhi.

    Thanks, Vivek.

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  • Vivek on October 19, 2008, 18:10 GMT

    Akash, A good post. Wish you all the luck at captaining Delhi.

    Thanks, Vivek.

  • Parichay on October 19, 2008, 18:13 GMT

    Whoa man, great news Akash. Congrats I cant think of someone more deserving. Heres wishing u all the best and heres hoping captaincy will bring you closer to that Test berth.

  • Balaji on October 19, 2008, 18:28 GMT

    Great News, Aakash. I wish you and the Delhi team all the best. I am sure your cricket knowledge would come to the fore becaue of this opportunity

  • Denzil on October 19, 2008, 22:00 GMT

    Nice article, I really loved the way the analogy is made. All the best for your stint as Delhi captain and hope to see you soon in the Indian line up.

  • Shefali on October 19, 2008, 23:22 GMT

    Hi Aakash, good luck with leading Delhi this year. I'm sure you will do a good job, and think you are lucky this year in the sense that you are leading one of the most talented sides in the Ranji trophy. Having also tasted victory last year I'm sure all the boys are ready for the challenge. Good luck, and hope to read many more of your blogs.

  • Pramod on October 20, 2008, 0:18 GMT

    Interesting read and wonderful to know that you are now captain of Delhi.

    Saurav Ganguly will be creating a vacancy, and I hope you can join the squad as the 5th member from Delhi and take his spot :)

  • Anjo on October 20, 2008, 0:49 GMT

    Congratulations on being made skipper, and good luck! Now Cmon Aakash, you're from India, surely you know about the other kinds of leadership. After you finish college and land a job, your parents fix your marriage and no matter how you protest ultimately it is their decision. This is "leadership by domination", it is like sending a nightwatchman to face a vicious pace bowling attack in fading light. Jokes aside, there are so many aspects to leadership that I think the four you have mentioned don't fully encompass all aspects. There is leadership by example, leadership by discipline, tactical and strategic etc, I could go on and on. Ultimately leadership is what you make out of it, how well you are able to get the best out of each individual and the team towards your objective. All the best!

  • Venky R on October 20, 2008, 1:13 GMT

    Hey Akash. It is nice to see you write - it is clear and eloquent. You are right in that management is a lot of learning from day-to-day life.

  • Aakash's Fan on October 20, 2008, 1:39 GMT

    Best of Luck Aakash..I know you would take Delhi to greater heights and I hope to see you playing in the Indian Test team once again.

  • Harsha on October 20, 2008, 1:58 GMT

    Great news Akash....Congratulations.Sure, you will do a great job.