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The Art of being Subtle: Rahane and Co.

To prove a point and to get to a particular outcome, you can either be extremely vocal, upfront and aggressive; every single time.


You can work in the background (even as a leader), perform and smile; everyone else will see the smile as a mark of success.

We can see the first instance in a lot many. We know a lot of them to talk about their success, but many don't too!

The Indian Cricket Team has been very consistent in the recent past. Under the dynamic duo- Captain Virat Kohli and Coach Ravi Shastri.

These last two months have been nothing less than a treat for me as a Test Cricket lover and as a sport psychologist.

Seeing the top two teams perform at their best, inspite of injuries and setbacks, was Test cricket at its best. There were a few areas that caught my attention.

The Dedicated Debutants

Seeing the rising super stars- Be it Marnus Labuschange or Cameroon Green from Australia or Rishab Pant, Natarajan, Washington Sundar and Shubman Gill from India- reiterated the fact that the groundwork at grassroots needs to be the strongest to get in the flow at an elite level.

Change in Captaincy for Indian Team

Virat Kohli broke the norm and took a paternity break during a very crucial series. He did take a very crucial decision and set the bar high for all the fathers. But he would have heaved a sigh of relief when his vice-captain Rahane, pulled the right strings while taking the lead from him. Leaving the series trailing 0-1 must've been tough for Virat but seeing the second match going India's way would've been a relief for him too.

Credit where it is due, Ajinkya Rahane led the team in a very subtle but a strong way. After losing Jadeja, Ashwin and Vihari to injuries, the comeback team was stronger than one could imagine. The prospect the so called "Team B" to win against a very strong Australian Side, itself sounds threatening. But Ajinkya "Jinx" Rahane did let that fade the calm smile on his face- on field, in the pavilion and while talking in any post match ceremonies.


Servant Leadership

Rahane's comparison with Dravid isnt new. But his method of leadership reminded me of a servant leader. Who is a servant leader?

The one who puts service before anything. Service towards the sport, service towards the country, the team members and fans. Greenleaf, who coined this term of servant leadership defines it as:

Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve. This is different from traditional leadership where the leader's main focus is the thriving of their company or organizations. A servant leader shares power, puts the needs of the employees first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

What made me feel Rahane is clearly showing signs of being a servant leader:

  1. In his post-match analysis, all his references pointed towards everyone in the game, including the Australian Team members.

  2. A gesture of giving the flag to Rishab Pant while taking the stadium journey

  3. Not sitting in the centre while taking a team picture.

  4. Overall body language of being humble. A smiling assassin as someone pointed out.

These are the attributes of a Servant I read in Paddy Upton's Book The Barefoot Coach:

  1. Humility

  2. Standing Back: Giving interest to others first

  3. Empowerment: Encouraging autonomous decision-making

  4. Accountability: People feel responsible for their results

  5. Stewardship: Good of the whole is taken into account.

Some studies mentioned by Upton in his book also highlight, athletes who perceive their coaches or captains to be servant leaders, also end up having higher intrinsic motivation, higher satisfaction as an athlete and perform strongly together as a team as well as individually.

Again, all these attributes were seen in the Indian cricket team that just won accolades as well as a billion hearts! The art of being subtle in the body language and yet strong on their skills- with the bat and ball- has won them the series. I still remember Rahul Dravid saying, If someone told me to be aggressive like Virat Kohli, I would have not been able to perform my best, because my personality is not like Kohli's!

The more one accept's one personality, the better performance comes out of one self! :)

In the end, one cannot expect Kohli to be like Rahane; or vice versa!

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