May 5, 2020

Leadership Lessons from a Mental Toughness Coach of Cricket

Varun Girilal
Executive Director and Co Founder, Mirtaz Wealth


Rahul dravid

The best-selling book ‘Hit Refresh’ by Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella has quite a few pages dedicated to the insights he derived while following cricket. These learnings from the game helped him build one of the most admired corporations in the world.

The insights in this article are drawn from the Book – ‘Barefoot Coach’ by Paddy Upton, Former mental toughness Coach of the 2011 World cup winning Indian cricket Team as well as our very own Rahul Dravid, a cricketing legend.

Enabling a Culture of Authenticity and Vulnerability within your Team

In essence, this means to create a Team environment from within where it is perfectly ok to admit your fears and short comings, for only then, the team is put into a position where collectively they can do something about developing countermeasures for their potential shortfalls.

As IFA’s dealing everyday with the uncertainty of the markets, regulators and client behaviors, accepting our own vulnerability can go a long way in building rapport, trust and confidence with both our Team members and clients. We don’t need to have all the right answers all the time but we definitely need to have a plan for the game with genuine intent and be able to communicate why we believe it gives us a good chance of performing.

Non- Judgmental Reviews for Team members

From vast experience in establishing a high-performance team culture Paddy advises to not have one on one sessions purely to reprimand players for their misconduct or failures. Instead he advocates “Non-judgmental Learning discussions” which creates the opportunity for the player to apply the lessons learnt from past ‘failures’ in a positive way rather than being judged and his self-esteem being decimated.

He does this by stating that ‘its’ totally ok to make an error’, and then asking, ‘if the same situation comes up again in the future, which is likely to happen, what will you do differently next time?’ The focus of this discussion is on a future solution, which is a creative confidence building exercise, rather than harping on past problems, which undermines confidence and learning, and can even undermine the relationship between employee and the employer.

Think Global, Act local for your Practice

Any world class cricketer has to continuously upgrade their game and skills to keep up with change in techniques, rules and regulations.

As a leader, developing the skill of having big picture hawk vision to be future ready and also on the ground snake vision to execute is important. FOFA -Future of Financial advice (Australia), RDR – UK and our RIA act all point towards a pattern of transparency, higher compliance and professionalism for the Industry. There is product disruption in the form of Passive ETFs and other lower cost products and digital platforms underway. In such an environment, it becomes important for us to future-proof our business models and articulate our client proposition to grow. A good way to prepare for this is to stay connected by attending high quality learning events and building an industry network of peers. The Kitces Blog by Michael Kitces is one resource I have found useful in staying abreast of global best practices. Being aware of Global or international best practices and applying it to your local context is an important skill to develop.

Be Process Focused and Equipoised Amidst Volatility

Lastly, Paddy says ‘Who you are as a Player is different from whom you are as a person’. Cricket is a game of Glorious uncertainties similar to financial markets which can throw up sharp ups and downs. It is important to keep a process focus and equipoised approach amidst the volatility of Markets and Customer behavior.

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