Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Content Analysis of the Leadership Styles of Steve Waugh and Sourav Ganguly: Leadership Lesson from the Game of Cricket

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Content Analysis of the Leadership Styles of Steve Waugh and Sourav Ganguly: Leadership Lesson from the Game of Cricket

Article excerpt

Leadership may be defined as the "process of influencing the activities of an individual or group to achieve certain objectives in a given situation" (DuBrin, 1990, p. 257). Management researchers have spent over a century trying to fathom the concept of leadership. It all started with the conceptualization of the "Great Man" theory in the mid19th Century, in which it was proposed that leaders are born, and can't be made (Carlyle, 1841). Gradually, this theory met with criticism, and researchers developed new theories which helped to identify the characteristics necessary to be developed to become a great leader. These later theories came to be known as trait theories (Mann, 1959). The trait theories substantiated the importance of personal characteristics such as personality, intelligence etc. on leader effectiveness (Judge & Bono, 2004). Subsequent research helped in understanding other contextual factors which may affect leader effectiveness such as the economic health of the firm or follower readiness (Avolio, Walumbwa, & Weber, 2009) and degree of acceptance of the followers in the leaders' in-groups as captured by the leader-member exchange (LMX) theory (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). More recent theories have identified great leaders as one who possess something called "charisma" which helps them to become transformational leaders (Bass, 1997). A criticism of these studies is that they have not been able to provide enough guidelines for practicing managers to apply their findings. More studies are needed to highlight the importance of these theories through real world case studies (Avolio et al., 2009).

In this paper, we tried to draw an analogy of management leadership in the corporate world from the game of cricket (Ashok, 2008; Easton, 1996). Corporate leaders such as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella have expressed that their earliest leadership lessons were taught in day to day activities of life including playing sports (PTI, 2014). Cricket is a team game which demands a lot from the playing captain in terms of strategizing and decision making (Ashok, 2008). It is a game consisting of eleven players on each side trying to win a contest of a bat and a ball (Brearly, 2000). The game of cricket originated in England and later became popular in the erstwhile colonies of the British Raj. Cricket, unlike other contemporary team games, has the scope of individual solo performances; especially, when the team is batting (Brearly, 2000). It is a game where both individual as well as cumulative team efforts decide the outcome of the game. Brearly (2000) referred to this unique feature of cricket as the prominence of "I" in a team-game.

The most salient aspect of the game is the role of the captain in the on and off-field decisions while a match progresses (Ashok, 2008). A cricket captain has to bear the criticism of every decision taken by him on and off the field, depending on the results of the game. This is not the case in case of other team games such as football, rugby, soccer, baseball, etc.

Acricket captain's greatest challenge is to blend the potential of the team and the individuals into a winning combination and to bring out the best from each individual performer and the team as a whole simultaneously (Brearly, 2000). Thus, a cricket team's captain can be considered to be a very close analogy to a corporate leader than can be observed in any other sport (Borden, 2014).

The captain of a cricket team has to perform all the necessary activities of a managerplanning, organizing, directing/leading and controlling (Easton, 1996; Prasad, 2011). Cricket is the only sport which has undergone frequent change in its playing format (Lord, 2014). Professional cricket started in the year 1877 (Miller, 2016). The traditional test cricket has seen numerous changes incorporated in its playing rules- including duration of play, use of covered pitches, rules for "no-balls" (ball bowled beyond the bowling crease) and "bouncers" (short-pitched ball) and very recently "day-night tests," The one-day international game has similarly been experimented with the concepts of power-plays, field restrictions and use of technology. …

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