The first words that come to mind when you think of Indian cricket skipper Virat Kohli are: winning and aggression. Kohli is less enigmatic than his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni, but more outgoing in approach.
He wears his heart on his sleeve, but rarely lets it get the better of him. Even Dhoni feels that the Indian team under Kohli ‘should win games more than any other captain or team has won’.
After leading India in his first 25 Tests, Kohli has been the nation’s most successful Test captain. He has 16 wins under his belt, just behind Steve Waugh’s 18 and Ricky Ponting’s 17.
Kohli has an arsenal of leadership traits that can benefit any team leader or entrepreneur.
1. Confidence: Kohli never shies away from taking bold decisions whenever a situation demands it. Often, he has stepped up to salvage an unlikely win. His exuberance and confidence are infectious. Also, having the confidence to back your winning attitude can take you leagues ahead in the organizational game.
2. Leading by example: There are two ways to lead a team: by your words or by your actions. Kohli and his teammates know that he is the best, which drives everyone in the team to reach the benchmark he has set for the rest. The fissures within a team widen when the leader takes a back seat, thinking that his juniors will do the hard work.
3. Staying focussed: Kohli hasn’t let the pride of leading Team India get the better of him. He has handled this challenge far better that even greats like Sachin Tendulkar. “Captaincy does not allow you to be complacent at any stage especially with the bat if that is your only discipline in the game, in the field as well. In that aspect I think complacency goes out of the window as captain. You tend to focus a lot more on certain situations,” he says.
4. Versatility: Versatility and adaptability are the key to longevity in any discipline. Kohli’s consistency across all three formats of the game is phenomenal. When asked about his transformation from a hotheaded bloke to a mature player, he said: “I was working on those things already on a constant basis with Anil Kumble (Indian Head Coach). I wanted to learn from my mistakes and evolve as a person.”
5. Man-management skills: Kohli has to pull together ten contrasting personalities, managing them similarly yet treating them differently to produce a win. Often, tempers or ego can flare up inside the dressing room and that has the potential to affect on-field performances as well. An important skill for any manager, who wants to get the best out of his team, is to be able to handle them well.
6. Supporting his teammates: Kohli has always stood up for his players, be it Ajinkya Rahane or KL Rahul, even when media and cricket pundits were behind the Indian captain’s life to drop them when they were not performing. For a team leader, it is very important to instill confidence into those who are lagging behind.
7. Staying involved: You can’t take Virat Kohli out of the game at any point, whether he is batting or fielding or sitting in the dressing room. His presence in the field sets the tone for his teammates as well as his opponents. In the crucial last Test match in Dharamsala, Kohli was seen taking drinks to the field, much to the surprise of the Australians, pumping his teammates up when they were down. “Even if I’m not playing, I love to keep talking to the guys and motivating them in some way or the other,” he said.
8. Handling success with equanimity: Like failure, success too can throw complex challenges at you. Kohli hasn’t allowed success get to him. In fact, he has outdone his success through sheer hard work.
9. A keen student: Kohli blossomed under MS Dhoni into a relatively composed campaigner for his team. A good follower doesn’t necessary mean that one has to be meek. Good followers support or complement their leaders when the going is good and come up with innovative ideas when the going gets tough.