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

By Banerjee, Pratyush; Bagchi, Shantanu Shankar | The Qualitative Report, May 2017 | Go to article overview

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


Banerjee, Pratyush, Bagchi, Shantanu Shankar, The Qualitative Report


In this study, the researchers focus on the leadership styles of two of the game of Cricket's most charismatic leaders of the twenty-first century--Steve Waugh of Australia and Sourav Ganguly of India in a bid to relate their styles with classic leadership theories. Both Waugh and Ganguly have been arguably recognized as the most successful cricket captains of their respective countries and have earned accolades from cricket pundits as brilliant leaders of men. In this study, a content analysis of the articles about these two legendary captains published in the highly-acclaimed Wisden almanac, electronic media such as Sportstar, Cricinfo Magazine and standard newspapers of India, Australia and other neutral countries was undertaken. The content analysis of eighty-seven articles spreading over a page length of 127 A-4 size papers revealed Waugh to be a more result-driven autocratic leader who led more by example, while Ganguly showed traits of a transformational leader who led by motivating his teammates. The study is expected to contribute to the existing body of leadership research with some new knowledge of the construct of leadership, which have been discussed at length in this paper. Keywords: Leadership, Decision-Making, Cricket, Content Analysis

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). …

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