The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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MBA lesson from cricket clash

Mumbai, March 21: The Sourav Ganguly-Greg Chappell epic clash was not entirely in vain. It taught a few critical management lessons.

The S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, a reputed campus in Mumbai, recently offered its students an unprecedented case study.

Called the “Indian Cricket Saga”, the lesson for its MBA students in the organisational behaviour class took up the crossfire between Indian cricket coach Chappell and former captain Ganguly that had the entire nation running for cover.

The S.P. Jain faculty stressed that the study ' published recently in the European Case Clearing House journal ' had nothing to do with Chappell or Ganguly or the controversy, but the conflict was just right to draw “parallels from the sports arena to explain team performance in organisations”.

In the process, it illuminated a lot of management jargon: “shifting team dynamics”, “locus of power”, “emotional intelligence”, “adversity quotient”, as well as issues of leadership, cultural changes or conflict management.

“With any new person joining the team, as it happened with Greg Chappell, the dynamics change,” says Lata Dheer, who teaches at the institute. She, with her colleague Suresh Lalwani and students Pankaj Dontam Setty and Praveen Sareen, is the brain behind the programme.

“We say there are four stages in team formation: forming, storming, norming and performing. If a new person comes into a performing team, it can go back to the storming stage. This could have happened with the Indian team,” she said.

As a leader, Chappell was found more aggressive and a “taskmaster”. Ganguly was identified as a tough, intuitive and emotional leader. When two authoritarian individuals worked together, there was bound to be more than a little friction, which is what happened.

Some participants felt Chappell came from a culture of high achievers, keen to implement change rather quickly. Some felt he was setting too many individual goals apart from team goals, which confused the players.

But some believed that Chappell was a “situational leader”, trying to prepare the team for the 2007 World Cup and did not have much time.

Chappell was also felt to be under pressure to prove himself. “Perhaps he wanted to prove himself by strongly pitting the Indian team against the formidable Australians,” felt a participant.

Chappell was not the only problem. Ganguly was the most successful Indian captain, but of late his individual performances were not up to the mark. It was felt that the leader must perform and set examples to lead the team towards effective performance, which Ganguly failed to do.

As the study focused on team performance, one way out, says Dheer, was to stay away from the power bases, and create your own “personal power” irrespective of other people, like Sachin Tendulkar’s, which gives an employee his own position in the organisation.

The other idea was to give free time to high performers so that they don’t burn out, be it BCCI or an MNC.

But the real key, says Dheer, stressing it as an important organisational strategy, would be to go for “distributed leadership”.

“Different persons should lead in different situations. If Ganguly was good for one situation, the baton should have been passed on to another in a different situation and Ganguly could have been brought back if the situation demanded so,” she says.

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