On day two of Goafest 2022, Kapil Dev took to the dais to deliver a master class on leadership.
The former Indian cricketer who was captain of the 1983 winning team, started his talk with a message of support to the Indian advertising industry.
“I heard someone talk about Indian advertising and state what India can do to be top three in the world. I disagree with the person. Indian advertising is already the best in the world,” said Dev.
Dev also thanked the organisers for inviting him as a speaker to the festival and claimed that his career has seen a complete role reversal.
“When I used to play, they used to tell me not to talk. I didn’t know how to talk. Now, I can’t play and I can only talk and get paid for the same,” he joked.
Dev was in conversation with cricket commentator Charu Sharma.
Sharma introduced the theme for the talk which was about gracing the ‘superpower within’ and asked Dev how one can become a superpower.
“Keep your eyes and ears open and keep listening to what is happening in the world. Awareness is a strength, and that lets you know what one should do or shouldn’t do,” answered Dev.
Give your best
Responding to a question from Sharma about the lessons he learned every time he faced defeat, Dev claimed that it didn’t bother him much because he thought it was more important to put in the right effort.
“If you give your best, winning or losing doesn’t matter. If the other person is better, then let it be. But there should be no shortage of effort,” said Dev, before adding that as a leader, he always looked for committed people more than those with talent.
He explained, “A talented person will leave a work task for the next day. A committed person will try finishing it at that time.”
Dev gave an anecdote of his experience with former Indian cricketer and coach Ravi Shastri and stated how he was one of the ultimate committed pros.
“A lot of the fans in the stadium would shout ‘Hai Hai’ (negative chants) when Ravi Shastri was batting. His role was to get the opponents tired and so we told him not to listen to them and continue listening to us. We needed him to play that role of the team and he delivered it for us, and that was important."
Taking the talent and commitment topic further, Dev added the importance of awareness for a team player.
“People who understand awareness can deliver and be successful. See MS Dhoni, he knows how to finish games off. More talented people (than him) don’t know how to finish the game. Yes, winning and losing is important for certain people, but for us, it’s more about how he’s playing the game,” he said.
Dev had a special word of praise for all the storytellers in attendance and said it is them who make people like him look special, with a mention of his 175* against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup.
“The storytellers make us look much better than we are. I remember someone asked me how I made the 175 (since it wasn’t on television). I said I don’t know, but wait till the storyteller tells us. They came up with their explanation, saying I walked in with aggression (and whatnot). The truth was that I was just saving my ass! But the storyteller made it sound so good,” he said.
Dev also spoke about how technology has evolved to help future generations.
“In the early 80s, Doordarshan was the only channel. Sport would be aired for only one hour a week. We used to be glued to the channel to see if our faces would appear. Now, we don’t have to go anywhere. Everyone has technology in their hands. This can help youngsters learn."
Thanks to technology, the Zimbabwe game kind of episode (where the game wasn’t aired), won’t happen again,” said Dev.
Going back to leadership, Sharma asked Dev for any bits of advice he can share with aspiring leaders.
With a special mention of Arjuna Ranatunga, Dev revealed, “It depends on the team you have and it’s about getting the best out of them. When you don’t have the best team in the world, you need to assess its strengths and weaknesses, and that’s leadership. I look up to Arjuna Ranatunga, who won the World Cup (in 1996) at a time no one gave them a chance. That’s a great leader, according to me.”
On his style of leadership during the 1983 World Cup, Dev said that it was all based on self-belief.
“I came from an agricultural background and my thought process was different. It was more difficult to explain it to the senior people because they had a set thought process. I told them to believe that they can win. I was playing with my hero Sunil Gavaskar and captaining him. The team knew how to play and that wasn’t my job. My job was to make people win. Science says that if you’re 70% burnt and have the will to live, you will live. If you’re 30% burnt and don’t want to live, you’ll die,” said Dev.
He added that a leader will always look to spend time with a person who hasn’t performed well, rather than who has because the latter would be happy anyway and wouldn’t need that comfort.
He further added how it’s important for each team to have a group of people who have a sense of humour. “You can’t have people only like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, because then the dressing room will be a bore. You need the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Krishnamachari Srikkanth. I like the sense of humour because you’re playing a high standard of the game. I play for my country and I want to have fun,” he added.
Dev also urged those who are feeling the pressure within an organisation to embrace it and enjoy it.
“A lot of people say that they are playing with too much pressure. If you’re working in a company, where there’s work pressure, I would say you should enjoy it. And if you do, it’s a pleasure, and not pressure. Don't change your goal, stick to one and give your best. If a lion comes in front of you, you can’t have a plan B. Similarly, you need to be ready in life with your top plan,” he said.
Other sports versus cricket
Responding to a question about what other sports don’t get the importance cricket gets in the country, Dev stated it’s a matter of commerce.
“If you think this (cricket getting the lion’s share of importance) is wrong, stop watching cricket and watch other sports. Then they will become famous. We say let’s promote other sports, but it’s not the cricketers' fault that the country wants to watch cricket. The broadcasters go for TRPs, so, I’d say please watch other sports and make them famous,” said Dev.
When asked about his favourite endorsements during his career, Dev pointed to the Palmolive campaign.
He also revealed that Boost was an interesting campaign.
Athletes ridiculed for endorsements
Before taking to the stage, in a conversation with Campaign India, Dev supported athletes who often get ridiculed for a loss of form by linking it to many endorsements.
“Look after them and give them a lot of money, and then they won’t feel the need to take on those endorsements. For those who attack them for looking to earn more money, it’s time to put them in the cricketer’s shoes and ask them if they’ll turn down an opportunity to do the same. If you turn it down, then I’ll agree with you,” he said.
While Dev has appeared in a soft drink ad (for Pepsi), he stated that he won’t look to do so in the future as he believed the next generation shouldn’t be consuming something as unhealthy.
“When I was young, I wasn’t so intelligent to understand this. I will also not endorse liquor and tobacco brands. I don’t mind spending money on those businesses, but tomorrow’s youngsters shouldn’t be encouraged,” he said.