Leadership to me is about managing people, working with them and working for them, getting them to work best in the manner they know best, not coercing them into doing something you think is best.
There’s a fine line of course. A leader has to be someone who should be able to make decisions — sometimes, tough ones — and yet, he has got to be flexible too. Sometimes, you have got to put your foot down and say, ‘this is what I want; this is how I want it’. At other times, you have got to ask yourself, if I put my foot down here, will it really help my team?
You have got to take everything on board as a leader, make decisions based on the situation at hand, without baggage from anywhere else. It’s like deciding which player to send in. You have to be convinced that that player is in the right frame of mind to get in there --- every person who walks in has got to believe that he is the best person for that job in the world at that point of time.
Often though, that state of mind (of a player) is achieved with a little help, a little mentoring, from the captain. A skipper has to inspire, to lead by example. He cannot walk away from challenges or say it is all too much. When a captain is prepared to accept challenges, to pick up the gauntlet, invariably, the team will too. They will believe they can. The pace you set matters immeasurably — this is something I have learnt with time and experience.
I think leadership is also about how you keep your team together at all times, how you back them, believe in them, get them to believe in each other. When the players in a team learn to enjoy each others’ successes, it makes a huge difference to everything. That atmosphere, this happiness, can be a vital edge in a crunch situation, when each person knows that whatever happens, he will be backed up, that he is not alone, he is part of a unit.
In the end, that’s what makes a difference, spirit and team spirit.