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How cricket taught Nadella leadership

Satya Nadella

Calcutta: Cricket doesn’t enjoy the global popularity of soccer or tennis. However, that the game is not inferior to any sport and that it is much more than being a simple bat-and-ball act has been endorsed by Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella.

The 46-year-old Satya, who was born in India, has said in an interview to The New York Times that playing in his school’s cricket team taught him important lessons on leadership and teamwork early in life.

Asked what were some early leadership lessons for him, Satya narrated an incident from his school life. “I played in my school’s cricket team, and there was one incident that just was very stunning to me.

“I was a bowler — like a pitcher in baseball — and I was throwing very ordinary stuff one day.

“So the captain took over from me and got the team a breakthrough, and then he let me take over again,” Satya was quoted as saying by the daily.

According to Satya, he was given back the ball because the captain didn’t want his confidence to be destroyed and that was an important leadership lesson he learnt.

“I never asked him why he did that, but my impression is that he knew he would destroy my confidence if he didn’t put me back in. And I went on to take a lot more wickets after that.

“It was a subtle, important leadership lesson about when to intervene and when to build the confidence of the team. I think that is perhaps the No.1 thing that leaders have to do: to bolster the confidence of the people you’re leading,” he said.

Satya has been with Microsoft for 22 years. His father, Yugandhar, is a retired IAS officer. Before plying his trade in the US, Satya had attended Hyderabad Public School in Begumpet and had graduated from Manipal University.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has heaped praise on the new CEO. “There is no better person to lead Microsoft than Satya Nadella,” Gates recently said.