Lead With Your Strengths
June 6, 2021
My younger son and I share a love for the game of Cricket(like most Indians!!!). This evening, we were reminiscing about one of the most extraordinary Test Matches in recent times.
It was the last game of the 2019 summer Ashes series between Australia and England. Australia went into the final Test match at Headingly with a 1-0 lead. Australia just needed to win or, at the minimum, draw the game to retain the Ashes urn. It seemed like they were well on their way, bowling England out for a measly 67 in their first innings before setting the hosts an almost improbable target of 359 runs to score in the second innings. The game was all but over when the ninth wicket was out with 73 more runs needed against the rampaging Australian bowlers.
What followed was nothing short of incredible. Ben Stokes, the recognized batsman at the crease with the 11th man Jack leach for company, possibly played English Cricket’s greatest individual innings scoring all the runs required to win. The last pair put up 73 runs, with Ben Stokes scoring all the runs and ending the game unbeaten on 135. Jack Leach scored just one run.
To win the game, Ben Stokes had to operate on two tracks. As the established batsman, he had to take the lead in scoring the required runs. But he also had to prevent the Australian bowlers from targetting the weaker batsman Jack Leach. So to do that, Ben Stokes would keep strike for four to five balls every over and take one run on the last ball to retain strike the next over.
As my son and I watched the highlights on Youtube, transfixed by the genius of what Ben Stokes achieved in the game, an interesting idea flashed in my mind.
Ben Stokes’ strategy in the game is what all of us should use whenever we find ourselves in difficult situations. Our emphasis should be on leveraging our strengths while ensuring that we shield our weaknesses.
- If you are very good at pitching the product but not very good at closing the deal, have someone good at closing deals accompany you to take care of the commercial negotiation while you do a brilliant job pitching the product.
- You are a big picture person, and you struggle with the details. Lead by being the strategic visionary while ensuring that you have strong detail-oriented folks covering your weakness.
- You are a solid individual contributor, but you are terrible at relationships. Don’t get sucked into the romantic notion of trying to be a leader if it’s not your thing.
It seems obvious, but we ignore this simple wisdom-In a crisis, magnify your strengths and manage your weakness.