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Leadership lacuna: Where CEO Kohli needs to step up

Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli receives a tremendous amount of flak for his team’s dismal performance in Tests outside the Asian sub-continent. His overall captaincy record of 22 wins, nine losses and nine draws in 40 Tests at the helm may look impressive. But, when you look at his record outside Asia, it’s a dismal four wins and seven losses besides three draws in 14 Tests. Of them, two wins and two draws have come against a weaker West Indies side in the Caribbean islands. Against South Africa and England this year, Kohli’s captaincy was tested. In the combined eight Tests in these countries (three in South Africa, five in England), Kohli could not inspire the side to victories as the team lost 1-2 against the Proteas and 1-4 against the Englishmen in their own backyards.

His initiation into Test captaincy came in Australia in 2014-15 as a stand-in for MS Dhoni. India lost valiantly going for the chase in Adelaide, where he shone with individual brilliance, scoring a century in each innings. Though Kohli the batsman has done wonders, it is his captaincy skills that are often a matter for debate. What is worse is that there does not seem to be an end to his overseas leadership predicaments.

Could a corporate CEO style performance management system be the panacea to Kohli’s leadership woes? But before we set out to discover the corporate route to bringing Kohli on the right track for better overseas results, let’s ask what his pain points are. Most fingers point to his authoritative style of governance, making repeated team selection errors, including constantly shuffling his team, being overly aggressive at times, not being able to seize the crucial moments and score when the team needed it badly.

The issues are many but fixable. The positive factor is that Kohli transforms himself into a CEO of Team Cricket India Limited, a global corporation if ever there was one. Here’s how the transformation happens.

It is not the CEO alone who takes all the calls all the time. There is a time-tested mechanism in the corporate world. The chairperson and Board of Directors, together with the CEO, form the core leadership group. A corporation as humongous and hybrid as Team Cricket India Limited also requires an Advisory Board much like many businesses of varying sizes and complexities. Such an Advisory Board should not only comprise experts who have played cricket at the highest level but also those who are acknowledged and proven leaders from the business world.

Leadership now gets clearly defined by a team of respected and well-known experts in their fields coming from different backgrounds, all contributing to the success. There is Captain Kohli and coach to run the day-to-day operations of Team India, akin to the CEO and chief operating officer (COO) of a multi-national company. Then, there is an Advisory Board that is available to be consulted on an on-going basis for matters that the CEO and COO need inputs on. And, then the ultimate authority of Cricket India, the chairperson, and the board will ensure that all is well with these constituents.

For Kohli to turn into cricket’s first hotshot successful multi-national corporation CEO, there needs to be a self-belief that leadership is a collaborative affair. Kohli needs to be truly convinced that such a structure, tailored to his best needs, will truly assist and not hinder. Once this realisation sets in, it is time to rewrite cricket leadership coaching manuals. The game has become far too cumbersome, both in public interest and money terms, for it to hinge solely on the acumen and tactical ability of one person.

Never mind if he is undoubtedly the best batsman in the world and a cricketing legend in the making. Past cricket captains around the world had to contend merely with Test cricket. Then ODIs came along. Now it’s T20 that has turned everything upside down.

This is where CEO Kohli steps in. The cricket world will never be the same again once it happens!

Welcome to the corporate world, CEO Kohli!



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